Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 28 June [1861]

Date: June 28, 1861

Editorial notes: The annotation, "Baltimore | June 28 '61," is in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "'61," is in an unknown hand.

Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Notes for this letter were derived from Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman, ed. Jerome M. Loving (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1975).

Location: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00313

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Eric Conrad, Gillian Price, April Lambert, and Nicole Gray



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Camp Brooklyn near Baltimore June 281

My dear Mother

Your letter and Walts came all right and glad enough was I hear that you are getting a little better. You must have had a hard time Mother being sick so long but do not get discouraged and I hope you will soon be as well as ever.

We have Just moved our camp. The place were we were first was a hill without a tree or any sort of shade. were we are now there are plenty of shade trees so that we are very comfortable. I am Just as well and hearty as can be I have slept out in the rain and on the ground but have not felt a bit the worse for it so I think I can go through like a book. When we first came here our camp was fired into for three or four nights in succession  there were four or five shots fired each night and we could hear the balls whiz through the camp but no one was struck. I and half a dozen others were sent out to scout about and see what we could find  we took our pistols and India rubber blankets and lay down in the grass about 200 yards from each other (the place were we are is about like Bedford)  we were out two nights and brought in about a dozen chaps but they were all let go as there was nothing against them but hanging around the camp. I and two others were sent out the other day to arest a secession soldier from Harpers Ferry who it is suposed came on here as a spy. We went out in the city  the chap that gave us the information shewed us the house and we went in and took him and brought him to camp  he was sent to Fort McHenry the same day to be tried for a spy. This city is a regular secession place  as we walk through the streets in the city the Women and children make a regular practice of saying as we pass them hurah for Jeff Davis  the men dont say anything but you can see by the looks of the most of them that they dont like us at all. This city was placed under Marshal law yesterday and the celebrated Marshal Kane2 was arested and sent to the Fort. It kicked up quite an excitement in the city but they did not go any further than to stand on the corners and growl. It would not have been well for them to have made any row as there are about 8000 Troops encamped about here with a Splendid Battery of Artilery of 8 peices  the Batery and two of the regiments are from Massachusets and they would like very mutch to get square for the afair on the 19th of April.3

Well Mother the three Months is going fast and I shall soon be with you again. I see some very foolish articles in the papers about us sutch as not haveing any thing to eat for 36 hours and being almost naked but you must not believe any thing of the kind as we are as well off as we could expect4  You speak in your letter of sending me on some Money.  We expect to get our pay from Government in the course of a few days but if we do not I have enough to last me untill I get home. Mother you need not wory about me at all as I am not in want of anything and I dont believe we shal see any fighting at all. I was sent out on a scout again last night  I went all around outside of the picket guard and down in the city but after ten O Clock it was as quiet as Brooklyn  Well good bye Mother  give my love to all and let me hear from you again right away.


G W Whitman


Notes:

1. On April 19, 1861—shortly after the firing on Fort Sumter—George Whitman enlisted for one hundred days in the Thirteenth Regiment of the New York State Militia, which was commanded by Colonel Abel Smith. This regiment was first stationed at Annapolis, Maryland, from April 23, 1861, to June 16, 1861, when its encampment was shifted to an area adjacent to Baltimore. As his letter reflects, the majority of citizens there held secessionist sympathies. [back]

2. George Procter Kane (1817–1878) was the marshal of police in Baltimore. When the city was placed under martial law by General Butler, Kane resisted the order to surrender the city's arms and was arrested for protecting contraband traffic in arms and for being the head of a police force hostile to the United States Government. [back]

3. The Sixth Regiment of Massachusetts was attacked by angry crowds in Baltimore as the troops attempted to pass through the city. Four of its number were killed and many others wounded. [back]

4. In a letter to George dated July 12, 1861, from Brooklyn, Walt Whitman wrote: "There have been so many accounts of shameful negligence, or worse, in the commissariat of your reg't. that there must be something in it—notwithstanding you speak very lightly of the complaints in your letters. The Eagle, of course, makes the worst of it, every day, to stop men from enlisting" (The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 1:56–57). [back]


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