This letter was written by 21 year-old Alena (Knickerbocker) Stone (1844-1896), the daughter of Byron Edwin Knickerbocker and Elizabeth Van Deusen. She was married to Leverett Stowell Stone (1838-1903), the son of Andrew Stone (1806-1890) and Priscilla Pepper (1800-1876).
Leverett enlisted in Co. K, 21st Iowa Infantry on 23 August 1862 as a wagoner. He was captured at Beaver Creek, Texas county, Missouri, on 24 November 1862 when the regimental wagon train was attacked by a considerable force of the enemy. After he was released, he was promoted to a musician. The source of his disability is unknown but he mustered out of the regiment on 1 January 1864 and was transferred into the Invalid Corps (Veteran Reserve Corps) where he was at the time this letter was written from New Orleans by his wife on 8 January 1865.
Barracks U. S. A. General Hospital
New Orleans, La.
Sunday morning, January 8, 1865
Dear Father & Mother,
I came down to the Barracks last evening and found a letter here from you to Leverett. I was exceedingly gratified to learn that all was well at home. It has been some time since receiving anything (in the shape of a letter) from you, and I began to fear that you were sick, or that something had happened to prevent you from writing. But I presume your letters have been delayed and that they will be forthcoming soon. I hope so at least, for nothing is more gratifying to me, or gives me more pleasure, than the perusal of a letter from yourself & to know that all are doing well at home. My health is good—Leverett’s also never was better. I was astonished to hear the death of Annie Cummings and also that of Smith’s wife. Where is their children and what will Smith do with them?
I think your Christmas & New Year must have been rather lonely—no one but Pa and Ma at home. I regret very much that Leverett & I could not have been there for I am sure we would enjoyed the holidays better at home than we did, or could, in this great big—little—town of N. Orleans. However, we had a very pleasant time Christmas, considering times & circumstances. New Years with me passed off very quietly—nothing occurring in my department at least to change it from the old routine of household duties or even to remind me that the day was of more importance than any other in the year and so the time passes, dull & monotononous.
By the way, we have had some little excitement here in the shape of amusements. Howe’s great and celebrated circus from Europe has been here for a number of weeks which has created quite an excitement for a circus, and I should think from reports that everybody went to see the great show—from the greatest General in town to nigger paupers. I went one night but did not think it anything extra although it was very good. they have four lions which was more of curiosity to me than anything else, never having seen any before. When the circus passed through the streets in exhibition, they had one large lion upon the outside of the wagon which caused quite an excitement among the little folks.
I think your Christmas present to Althemus ¹ was quite considerable. I expect he was glad enough to get it for I don’t suppose that there is many roast turkeys that find their way to his table, or that he gets many other delicacies to help the relish of hard tack and coffee. Where is Althea ² now-a-days? I have lost sight of her altogether. What has become of her distinguished highness? Tell her I want to know if she has joined the Invalid Corps yet. Tell her that I have. I have written a word to all except Pa. Now what shall I say about or to him? I think he keeps himself as much in the dark as Alla does. Don’t know which to scold the most. Six of one & half a dozen of the others in my opinion about the matter, so I guess I will have to let them both alone as they seem to prefer living in silence & solitude—although of the two, I think Althea is less sensible for she might write her name and send it if she could not think of anything more. But I might as well let that pass for I might preach until doomsday & it would have the same effect. Time is on the wing and I must bring my letter to a close, hoping this will find you all well.
I sign myself as ever your daughter, Mrs. L. S. Stone, &c. &c.
P. S. Write often and remember me to all my friends.
P. S. Just as I am about to close my letter to be mailed, I hear the booming of cannon up in the city which is telling us by its thundering noise that some good news has arrived from the battlefield. Some great victory has been achieved. ³ When I rejoice over victories, it will be when I hear that the last battle has been fought and the war is over forever. —Alzeno S.
¹ Alzeno’s younger brother, Althemus Knickerbocker (1847-1919) enlisted in Co. I, 21st Iowa in February 1864.
² Althea E. Knickerbocker (1841-1924) was Alzeno’s older sister.
³ Most likely the news of the capture of Savannah.