Dec. 3d 18632
Your note4 with $20 from a friend, (formerly a Breckenridge democrat) came safe. Doctor, I have been away for a few days, but have now returned to remain here certainly for the winter & ensuing spring, & probably for two or three years. I feel much possessed with the wounded & sick soldiers—they have taken a powerful hold of me, & I am very happy among them—it is perhaps the greatest interchange of magnetism human relations are capable of—I have told you how young & how American they mostly are—so on my own account—I shall continue as a missionary among them as sure as I live—I shall continue for years—tell your friend that his mony is being distributed as mony or what little purchas I find appropriate for the men of all states—I reject none of course—not rebel wounded nor blacks, nor any when I find them suffering & dying—Doctor to the other friends that assisted me in Boston & to yourself, I send my regards & love
Care Major Hapgood
The text presented here is derived from William Baker, "'I Feel Much Possessed with the Wounded & Sick Soldiers': An Unpublished Walt Whitman Letter" Notes and Queries 42 (June 1995): 195–96. For a detailed description of discrepancies between this electronic edition and the print source, see our statement of editorial policy.
The manuscript of this letter, dated December 3, 1863, is held in the Percival Library, Clifton College, Bristol, England.
1. Address: Dr L. B. Russell / 34 Mt Vernon. stree / Boston / Massachusetts (Back)
2. Whitman noted in his diary for December 3, 1863, the day his brother died: "Andrew died—I have just rec'd a telegraphic dispatch. Wrote to George—Han—Jeff—Dr Russell—John Stillwell" (Walt Whitman and the Civil War, ed. Charles I. Glicksberg [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933], 139–40.) (Back)
3. Dr. Le Baron Russell (1814–1819) was a Boston physician who was well acquainted with Ralph Waldo Emerson and James Redpath. Along with other philanthropically minded citizens, Russell sent Whitman money to be used in easing the suffering of the Civil War wounded languishing in the Washington, D.C., area. (Back)
4. For Russell's letter see Thomas Donaldson, Walt Whitman: The Man (New York: F. P. Harper, 1896), 151. (Back)