October 23d 1864
I wrote you a line from Libby Prison a few days after I was taken prisoner, but think it doubtfull if you received it. I was taken, (along with almost our entire Regt. both Officers and men) on the 30th day of September, near the Weldon Rail Road, but am proud to think that we stood and fought untill we were entirely surrounded, Major Wright, Lieuts Pooley, Sims,1 and 9 other Officers2 of our Regt, are here, Capt Walton3 and Lieut Butler4 was wounded, but I dont know how badly, I am very well indeed, and in tip top spirits, am tough as a mule, and about as ugly, and can eat any amount of corn bread, so you see, dear Mother that I am all right, and my greatest trouble is that you will worry about me, but I beg of you not to frett, as I get along first rate.5 Please write to Lieut. Babcock6 Co. F of our Regt. and tell him to send my things home by Express. Much love to all. G. W. Whitman
The text presented here is derived from Jerome M. Loving, ed., The Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975). 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 October 23, 1864, is held in the Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.
For more information on the letters of George Washington Whitman, see Jerome M. Loving's introduction to the print edition.
2. The nine officers were Lieutenants William T. Ackerson, William C. Caldwell, James H. Carberry, Thomas F. Farmer (acting second lieutenant), Herman Groenemeyer, Charles W. Hoyme, Schuyler Murden, Frederick E. Waldron, and Captain Charles W. Walton. (Back)
3. Walton, however, was wounded but not captured. (Back)
5. George Whitman was soon to become seriously ill from "lung fever" during his confinement at the Confederate Military Prison at Danville. From December 3, 1864, to January 11, 1865, he was a patient in the prison hospital. Furthermore, on May 9, 1865, not long after George and the other members of his regiment had been released in a general exchange, Walt Whitman recorded in his journal that Lieutenant Colonel John G. Wright, commanding officer of the Fifty-First Regiment, told him that George "had got much weakened, & was evidently failing; but to all inquiries of his fellow officers, answered, 'O I feel well enough; there's nothing the matter with me of any account.' Col. Wright said that at length one day he found that George acted very strangely—he was seriously ill, & was delirious. He had thin & wretched clothing, although it was in the midst of winter" (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University). (Back)