Title: George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 16 October 1863
Date: October 16, 1863
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), 107-109. 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.00347
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Tim Jackson, Gillian Price, and April Lambert
Camp Nelson Ky.
What can be the reason that some of you dont write to me. I have been expecting every day, for the last two weeks to get a letter from home, but every day I have been disapointed
I had a letter from Walt, dated Sept. 28th he said that Andrew was considerable better and was Doctoring with a celabrated Italian Doctor in Court St. I dont have much faith in them new fangled foreign Doctors, but if Andrew is realy so much better, it is good encouragement to keep on and give him a fair trial.1 All the rest at home Walt. says, are as well as usual. Mother I hope you are takeing things easy and comfortable, and above all I hope that you dont wory, and work, as much as you used to. Matty and the babies I hear are first rate.
Whenever you hear from Hannah, you must let me know how she is getting along, and if she is comeing home soon.
Walt says that you received the money all right, I suppose he means the last I sent you ($187.00) about Sept. 9th. Everything here with me is just the same as when I last wrote you (two or three weeks ago, did you get it) our Regt. you know is temporarily detatched from the Brigade and stationed at this Post, there is a great quantity of Quatermaster, and Commissary Stores collected here, which we have to guard
There is scarsely any sickness in the Regt. now, as our camp is very dry and healthy and is kept perfectly clean. I dont hear any talk of our leaving here, so I think the chances are that we will stay here some time. I am just as comfortable here as can be, I have first rate grub, a good stove, plenty of wood, and everything nice. Does Jeff ever see Capt. Sims2 or Lieut. McReady3 about Brooklyn, I wonder what their chances are for getting conscripts. it seem the draft was almost a failure, what is going to be done now, will there be another draft, or will they fall back on the old volunteer plan, with big bounties, I am rather in favor of the draft, I should very much like to see that party of suckers, that stay at home and oppose the Government forced to come out here and take a rifle, for ( I think just the meanest rebels that ever lived, are those that stay at home and oppose the draft, and blow about the violation of the Constitution, the liberties of the People, and all that sort of thing,)4 and if it was possible to make them come out here, and let the old troops drive them into the next fight, (with Seymour and the Woods5 in the front rank) I think it would be a fine thing, and I am certain that the sooner something is done to stop the mouths of that class of cowardly traitors, the sooner the war will be brought to a close.
The election last Tuesday in Ohio was a grand victory for our side, dont you Yorkers feel a little ashamed about your election last Fall, when you see how other states treat such chaps as Seymoure6 & Vallandigham.7
Jeff, how is it that you never write to a fellow now a days, ime a good mind to get mad at all of you. Mattie whats the news at your house, have you got lots of good things put away for the winter I make lots of reckoning, of good dinners with you, if I come home this winter.
Mother dont neglect to write as soon as you get this, and let me know all the particulars of your affairs. I am very anxious to hear from Andrew. I think I shall write to Walt to night or tomorrow Direct your letters to me at Camp Nelson Ky 51st Regt N. Y. V. but dont put on the Brigade, Division, or Corps, as I think perhaps the reason of my not hearing from you is, that you have directed, to the Corps, and the letters have gone to the front, the rest of the 9th Corps being somewhere about Knoxville Tenn.
Good bye all, for the present.
Geo. W. Whitman
1. In a letter dated September 22, 1863, to Walt Whitman, Jeff wrote in regard to Andrew: "I think that it is unfortunate that he should be so humbuged by the 'Italian Dr.' but I suppose he would not otherwise have tried to get well at all. The Dr. requirs him to pay $180 in 3 installments in advance. He had paid $46 and is now living his 15 days at the 'Foriegn Dr's' as a preparing course, then he is to take certain baths. The whole thing in my opinion is one of the biggest of humbugs. However if Andrew believes in it I suppose it is best to bolster him up in his beliefs." On October 15, 1863, Jeff wrote again to Walt about Andrew's illness: "I think if you should come [home] just now you might be able to do Andrew considerable good. He is in a very bad way and I really fear under the present circumstances that he will not last long.…I think he would be guided more by your advice than any one elses. That damned infernal robber the doctor that he has been with (Andrew has paid him $95 and been getting worse all the time) told Andrew yesterday that he must not come there again till he brought him $45 more. Only think of it, the infernal son of a bitch. I would like to hang him for a thousand years, ten times a second.…Andrew thinks that perhaps if he could pay him $45 he could do something for him." [back]
3. Whitman refers here to First Lieutenant Frederick B. McReady. While Walt Whitman was in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with the Fifty-First Regiment (see George Washington Whitman's letters to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from December 16, 1862, and December 19 (?), 1862), he wrote in his diary for December 21, 1863, that McReady was one of several officers who "used me well" (Charles I. Glicksberg, ed., Walt Whitman and the Civil War: A Collection of Original Articles and Manuscripts [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933], 70). In a letter to his mother, dated May 13, 1863, Whitman wrote: "I have not heard from George himself—but I got a letter from Fred McReady, a young Brooklyn man in the 51st–he is intimate with George, said he was well & hearty…" (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961—1977], 1:100). In the Brooklyn Daily Union of September 22, 1863, Whitman wrote: "Fred. McReady I know to be as good a man as the war has received out of Brooklyn city" (Emory Holloway, ed., The Uncollected Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman [Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1921], 2:29). [back]
4. The letter includes parentheses added by another hand, possibly Walt Whitman's. [back]
7. On May 1, 1863, Clement L. Vallandigham, a Democratic politican in Ohio, had made a speech in Mount Vernon, Ohio, declaring that the war could have been ended sooner by negotiation or by acceptance of French mediation but that the Lincoln administration was needlessly prolonging the bloodshed. General Burnside had Vallandigham arrested and tried by a military commission for "declaring sympathies for the enemy." Found guilty, Vallandigham was sentenced to close confinement during the war. President Lincoln later commuted Vallandigham's sentence and banished him within Confederate lines (J. G. Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction [Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1937], 396–98). [back]