9 July 1865

Sunday, July 9, 1865

Dearest Friend,

I must steal away into the quiet a little while today to talk to you. I can’t write, I see. Am rather nervous; another slight attack of my old complaint — headache — but I’ll scribble anyway for you know I love above all things that I can enjoy at present to talk to & think of you. I got yours of June 25th yesterday & Oh how glad to get it. But last night after the rest were all in bed, I must needs read it again & then I had to cry. Another silly fashion I have but I can’t help it. I saw in the letter sure signs that you are not happy & I fear not well either. Oh dear Lot, are we not inclined to look too much on the dark side of life? I know I’ve no room to lecture you for I’ve too much need to practice my own preaching, & for the last four years you have suffered so much & been so brave through it all. I’m ashamed of myself when I think of murmuring. I know there are few soldiers who suffer as you do for but few possess that strong affection for home & friends & I fear not all have the same high principles of truth & honor, & for these noble qualities I love my Lot. How much, God only knows.

Lot, you & I were not made to go through this world merely as drift in the tide. We have something to do. We will never find peace outside of duty. I pray we may have courage to stand to our post without flinching though it seem hard. We have hoped that our paths might be side by side that we might cheer & aid each other all along the tedious journey of life. Without that hope, I could not live now & will still hope on. Oh Lot, I can’t write half what I would love to say. If I could cheer or encourage you in any way. It seems to me I could if I were only with you. Letters are good, but they are so long on the road that it seems to me they lose half their force & why mine are so behind time, I can’t tell. I write at least one in ten days or ’tis only five since I wrote last.

I am still in Mt. Pleasant at Mrs. Frick’s. She is very sick & I fear I have tied myself rather closer than I shall like though it can’t be helped & is nobody’s fault. When I came from school, I found them needing help badly & went to work naturally & now can see no stopping place. I was wondering the other day what I should do if my soldier were to drop in unexpectedly like so many others are doing lately. He’d find me in big apron & sleeves up in the kitchen, or noncome atable [?] for half an hour or so in the sick room. Wouldn’t those be romantic meeting for lovers? I was caught just about so the other evening by my wealthy & aristocratic cousins from Zanesville, Ohio, & have been playing nurse, kitchen girl, milkmaid, hostess, & all until this morning when Uncle Asa [Thompson] came to take them to Canaan. Then came the trial for I wanted to go with them so badly but ‘twould not do to leave the sick so I said good bye for the present & came away here to write to you for comfort.

Friend Pixley’s ¹ are having gay times lately. Both their solder boys are married & at home though Web left his wife in Georgia. I wonder if you’ll be like the other soldiers when you come home? All I’ve seen are as uneasy as fish out of water. Can’t content themselves half an hour in one place. ‘Tis discouraging to their friends who try to entertain them.

Oh, I must tell you I got a present from my cousin in Ohio. ‘Tis a beautiful collar & “to be worn at my wedding.” It stands a pretty good chance to get yellow before ’tis worn, from present prospects. Don’t you think my amiable Coz’ Mary — &, by the way, one of the sweetest girls, — had the audacity to tell me I was foolish for not having you come home & marry me even if you did go right back. I suppose she’d have me write something after this style, “Capt. A., this is to certify that I am decidedly tired of single life. In fact, can’t exist any longer without one of creations Lords to take care of me. Therefore, if you ever expect to have any title to this valuable piece of property, you must come immediately & take &c., &c.” She is a pretty sensible girl in most things but has no “lover in the Army”, therefore is not competent to advise in this case.

Enough, ’tis dinner time & I must go & prepare it. Good bye for the present. — S. G. Alden

¹ Neal is referring to the Benjamin F. Pixley family of Mt. Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa. Benjamin was a wagon-maker and wheelwright who was born in Marietta, Ohio in 1810. He married Mydia V. Conner in 1833 and came to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in 1843. Their children were Theodore, Francis, Waldo, Webster, George, and Zella. We learn from this letter that Webster or “Web” (1845-1916) met his future wife, Emma Faulkenberry (1848-1880) while being held a prisoner of war in Columbus, Georgia. Web served with the 17th Iowa Infantry throughout the war. They were married in 1866.

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