Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 9 May 1864
Date: May 9, 1864
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 1:220. 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.00824
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Vanessa Steinroetter, Sarah Synovec, and Alyssa Olson
Monday 2 o'clock—May 9th
There is nothing from the army more than you know, in the N Y papers—the fighting has been hard enough, but the papers make lots of additional items, & a good deal that they just entirely make up—there are from 600 to 1000 wounded coming up here—(not 6 to 8000 as the papers have it)1—I cannot hear what part the 9th corps took in the fight, of Friday & afterwards, nor whether they really took any at all—(they, the papers, are determined to make up just any thing)—
Mother, I rec'd your letter & Han's—& was glad indeed to get both—Mother, you must not be under such apprehension, as I think it is not warranted2—
So far as we get news here, we are gaining the day, so far, decidedly—if the news we hear is true that Lee has been repulsed & driven back by Grant, & that we are masters of the field, & pursuing them—then I think Lee will retreat, south—& Richmond will be abandoned by the rebs—but of course time only can develope what will happen—
Mother, I will write again Wednesday, or before if I hear any thing to write—love to Jeff & Mat & all—
1. These figures were cited in the New York Times of this date, in the official release from the office of the Secretary of War. [back]
2. Louisa Van Velsor Whitman's letter is not extant, but Hannah Heyde Whitman wrote, on May 10, 1864, an hysterical letter about George Whitman's safety: "Mother, will you be sure and send me word the minute you hear that he is safe. I am like you, I cannot see a bit of peace till I hear. I feel this time as if he would be safe, and, Mother, if he only is, I will try to never complain again of anything as long as I live" (The Library of Congress). Of the Whitmans, only Walt Whitman apparently remained impassive. George had not helped matters when he noted in his letter of April 29, 1864: "I hear that Grant has issued an order, that no letters will be allowed to be sent from this army for the next Sixty days" (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Books, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). [back]