Title: George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 2 April 1863
Date: April 2, 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), 90-91. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Whitman Archive ID: loc.00486
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Vanessa Steinroetter, Kathryn Kruger, Gillian Price, and April Lambert
I have only time to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hearty, as we are not yet, to the end of our journey and we expect to leave here in the course of an hour or two. As soon as we get to our destination (which I think is not very far from here) I will write you again, and tell you all about the sights I have seen, since we left Newport News, which was on the 26th of March, I have not heard a word from home since I came back to the Regt. but I suppose there must be some letters somewhere on the way to me, I wrote you the night after I got back to Newport News, telling you that we expected to leave there soon, but I suppose you will be quite surprised to see that we are away down here in old Kaintuck, We are now about 70 miles from Cincinnati Ohio. I like the country about here first rate and think likely we will have a good time. I believe there is no large force of Rebs, in this State, but they say, there is a good many small bands of Gurilas, that scive around and do considerable mischief. We had a pretty long ride in the cars, having come by Rail all the way from Baltimore but it was not quite as bad as marching, although I got pretty well tired of it. Dear Mother I hope you have not worried about not hearing from me in some time, as soon as we get settled, somewhere in Camp, I will write to you regular. I hope you are all well. Mother put Mattie in mind of her promise to write to me, and tell Sis, to harness up Uncle Jess and chase Aunty Brown's parrot as much as she likes.2
Good bye All. G. W. Whitman3
1. On March 7, 1863, while the Ninth Army Corps was still encamped at Newport News, Virginia, George Whitman was finally granted a furlough for ten days. His arrival at the Whitman residence the following night after a sixteen-month absence was recorded by his brother Jeff in a letter to Walt Whitman, dated March 9, 1863: "He arrived home about 11 Oclk on Saturday night but we all happened to be abed and he did not wake us up but went to his room and made himself shown about 8 ock in the morning...." Jeff added that George looked healthy but "played out as regards clothes..." On March 17, Captain Whitman left Brooklyn to return to Newport News. Arriving on March 19, 1863, he found his regiment—as a part of Burnside's Ninth Army—preparing for a journey to the midwestern states. After General Burnside had transferred the command of the Army of the Potomac to General Hooker, he was assigned command of the Department of Ohio, a military territory which included Ohio and several adjacent states. The Ninth Corps departed for this region on March 26, 1863. Proceeding first by steamboat (the Fifty-First New York aboard the John Brooks) to Baltimore, the Army moved then by train through Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on March 29, 1863, and Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 30, 1863, where it boarded a ferry for Covington, Kentucky. The next day Burnside's army again traveled by train and arrived at Paris, Kentucky, on April 1, 1863. [back]
2. The relationship between the Whitmans and the John Browns (see George's letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from May 12, 1862) was evidently not always cordial. In a letter dated February 6, 1863, to Walt Whitman, Jeff complained of his mother's habit of working too hard, saying: "If Mother could be persuaded to let the scrubbing of the lower entry alone for a few days she would recover [from her cold], but I believe she is too much afraid of Mrs. Brown..." [back]