Title: George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 12 May 1862
Date: May 12, 1862
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from George Washington Whitman, Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman, ed. Jerome M. Loving (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975), 52-53. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
Whitman Archive ID: duk.00318
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Eric Conrad, Gillian Price, April Lambert, and Nicole Gray
Head Quarters 51st Regt Newbern May—
I am Officer of the guard again to night and as I have nothing particular to do for the next two hours I may as well have a little talk with you. Well Mamy how are you to night, and how is Mat and Sis and all the rest of the folkses does your wrists trouble you any now a days, and are you as fat and handsome as ever, I suppose you still live in the same house, does Mrs Brown live with you yet,1 or aint you boss of the institution, this year. I am mighty anxious to know how you have things aranged. I am perfectly well and hearty, the weather here is fine and the men generaly are pretty healthy. The news from New Orleans2 and in fact from all parts of the Union keeps us all in good spirits so that we get along first rate.
We have been reinforced within the last week by a Regt of Cavelry and a battery of light artillary with eight rifled guns, so we are about ready to advance, if there is any advanceing to be done in this part of the world I would not be surprised if we were to move somewhere inland, on the railroad runing from Richmond through this State and leading down South somewhere I dont know where. But it seems to me if we could stop the retreat of the varmints and let McClelland3 have a chance to get his name up it would bee about the thing.
We have not been paid off yet Mother but we expect to be in a very few days, just as soon as I get my money I will send you 50 or 60$ by Adams Express, the paymaster is here and he is looking for the money to arive every day. The 1st Leiut of our Co whose name is Francis,4 has a wife in Burlington Vt he wrote to her to call on Han So I expect to hear from her—Soon.
It is now three or four weeks since I have heard from home, but we expect a mail in a day or two and then I hope to hear from you all.
What is the reason Walt or Jeff does not write to me once in a while. You dont know how glad I am to hear from you and I feel quite out of Sorts, to have a mail come and bring nothing for me.
Good Night Mother
G W Whitman Co D. 51st N.Y.V.
1. The family of John Brown, a tailor, had been sharing the Portland Avenue house with the Whitmans since 1860. See Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's letter to Walt Whitman, March 30, 1860 (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). [back]
2. The land-sea expedition under the command of Commodore David G. Farragut captured the Confederate port of New Orleans on April 29, 1862. [back]
3. General George Brinton McClellan (1826–1885) was General-in-Chief of the Army of the United States from November 1861, until July 1862, when he was replaced by General Henry W. Halleck. In 1864, when McClellan ran for the presidency, the Democratic party split between war Democrats and peace Democrats. To satisfy the war Democrats McClellan was nominated; to satisfy the peace Democrats C. L. Vallandigham and his followers were allowed to draft the platform. Thomas Jefferson Whitman evidently considered the entire Democratic party as "the peace party" as evidenced from the letter to his brother Walt dated July 7, 1863. [back]
4. Henry W. Francis of Buffalo, New York, was promoted to the rank of captain to replace Hazard when the latter left military service. After living with George Whitman's regiment for a time after the battle of Fredericksburg, Walt Whitman made the following comment in a letter to his mother from December 29, 1862: "Capt. Francis is not a man I could like much—I had very little to say to him." [back]