Title: George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 14 April 1864
Date: April 14, 1864
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), 113–115. 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.00351
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Sarah Synovec, Kathryn Kruger, Gillian Price, and April Lambert
Camp near Annapolis Md
April 14th 1864
We were paid this afternoon for the Month of February, and I enclose you $50.00 and am sorry that I cant send you more, but Mother if you need more before I get my next pay (which is due the last of this Month) you must certainly draw it from the Bank, as I send it to you for you to use it just when you want it.
Mother I received your letter (of April 6th) a few days ago. I had felt quite alarmed about you—as Walt wrote me that you had a very bad cough, and I know how any thing of that kind affects and hangs on to you. I am quite sure Mother that you are not half carefull enough of yourself, and if you would only hire someone to come and work for you two or three days every week, and let them do all the scrubing and cleaning, I am sure you would not be trobled so much with colds and lameness, You needent say you cant afford it Mammy, for I will guarentee to send you money enough to keep the Institution running (without your working the way you always have) and Mammy dont you be backward in useing it.1 One thing is certain Mammy you must surely contrive to take more care of yourself, and in your next letter I shall expect to hear that you have made some arrangment that will enable you to sit down and take your ease whenever you feel like it. Ime in right down earnest Mammy, and if you will only do as I advise I shall be a great deal better satisfied.
I know you think that no one can do your work like yourself. (Mammy I wonder what the duece you would do if you was unfortunate enough to be rich) but you cant expect to work now as you did Twenty or Thirty years ago, so you have just got to take things easy and get some one else to do the hard work or let it go undone.
Matty and the little gals you say are well, poor little Sis I felt quite worried about her after I went away, You know she was pretty bad with the croupe a night or two before I left home. Hattie can knock around and hold her own almost anywhere, does she go in and tease aunty Brown's parrot now a days.2
So Mother you are all going to stay in Portland Ave another year, well I dont suppose you could do better, for the same rent, although if the house was smaller or the Rent rather so that you and Mattie could take the whole of it it would be much better.3
I received a letter from Walt dated April 9th he seems to be getting along very well and says he thinks of publishing a small book this Spring.4 I should like very much to hear from Hannah and whenever you hear from her, Mother you must not fail to let me know. I am first rate and am getting along tip top, when I last wrote you I believe we were in barracks. We are now encamped about 2½ miles from the Villiage and we have everything as nice and comfortable as you please, we have been pretty short of cash along back but as we are paid now, we can go it with a rush. Hunt the man that I told you was going Sutler5 for the Regt and intended to board the Officers, did not go with us to Tennessee, but he is here now and expects to have the institution running in the course of a day or two. I think it will save us a good deal of trouble, and be much better than liveing as we have been. I have a nice wall tent all alone to myself and if I have some one to look out for my grub, I shall be all hunk. I dont see any signs of our leaving here yet awhile, Troops arrive here almost every day and go into Camp. We have only had some 60 or 70 recruits as yet, but we hear there are some 200 in New York for us.
Generals Grant and Burnside6 paid us a visit yesterday. There was no grand Review as is generaly the case, but the Regiments just fell in line and Grant rode along and looked at them and then went on about his business. There are all sorts of speculation about the destination of our Expedition but the general opinion is that we are to go to North Carolina for an advance into Virginia by way of Goldsborough while the Potomac Army makes another push for Richmond by the front door, but I am rather inclined to think that we are intended as a kind of reserve, to send where we are most needed.
Mother I believe I mentioned in my last letter about your haveing some of my pictures taken and sent on to me by mail as I have promised several of the Officers to give them one. And about the boots if no one is wearing them if Jeff would wrap them up and send them by Express and send me the receipt by mail, they would be good for stormy weather, but if any one is wearing them its of no consequence. Good bye for the present. Dear Mother, give my love to all and let me hear from you often. Direct Capt G. W. W. Co K 51 Regt N.Y. Vols. Annapolis Md
1. In a letter to Walt Whitman dated March 11, 1864—not long after George Whitman had returned from his second furlough—Jeff Whitman said that his mother was "foolishly worrying herself about George—thinking that he does not want her to use so much of his money. She says that when he went away he did not say as usual 'Mammy dont want for anything.' If he didnt—God knows he meant it. To me his whole life and actions home seemed to say so. But Mother seems to feel quite bad about it. Several days after he first went away she was either crying or planning how to take 'boarders' and make her own living" (Feinberg Collection of Walt Whitman, Library of Congress). [back]
4. Drum-Taps (1865). [back]
5. One who procures and sells provisions to soldiers. [back]