Dubuque, November 29th 1862
My Dear Mother;1
I bless you for you. Your very kind letter came to hand in time, which nourished and fed me more abundantly. I love letters from home. They lengthen my vision and turn my eyes eastward and with telescopic power. I seem to see you all. I can almost sit down by the fireside and talk with you. I would like to feast with you on those apples and cider. I have apples here, but none of the extracted juice which agrees so remarkably well with my palate.
My school flows as smooth as oil. Good habits have become second nature to my scholars and they as naturally fall into my well-regulated courses as water comes down hill. What would you think to have a room of 50 scholars and not a communication for 3 days and not any disorder or reprehensible conduct? And I am remarkably strict. Everything is conducted on the most exact system possible. I have now 13 teachers and each has two classes. Scholars are promoted from one class to another twice every year.
Everything is so high here. It can cost one nearly all they can make to live. They have advanced on board and I have now to pay 18 dollars for [board room lights ? ] per month. [You] cannot buy the commonest pair of pants less than eight or nine dollars.
The country is pretty well drained of men now and contrabands are being sent here from Cairo to take their places. Several carloads have passed through this place already for the back country. I think they will draft pretty soon to fill up the old regiments. There are so many secessionists here it will fall hard upon this place.
I sit beside a Capt. who has been a prisoner a long time at Atlanta Ga. and was later at Corinth with Gen. Prentiss2. He will return to service pretty soon. I think there will be active [work? north?] pretty soon. We must fight or we shall have ignominy enough to hide our heads in defeat and chagrin.
Edmond is in Helena Arkansas. He has made a good deal of money buying and selling cotton. My school continues ten months.
Oh I was so glad to hear from Calista. I think they will do well in California. But they have had a hard time and no doubt will be denied a great many privileges. Has Elijah Stebbins gone to war? Do you take the Springfield Republican? I should like to see one occasionally.
Remember me to all the good folks and by and by when I get [rich?] I will come and see you. [Lord willing.?]
Yours from the heart,
- Written from Alfred Stebbins to his mother Harriet Houghton Stebbins (1804-1864).
- General Benjamin Mayberry Prentis