Title: Walt Whitman to Alfred Pratt, 27 September 1866
Date: September 27, 1866
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 1:286-287. 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.00845
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Brett Barney, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Alyssa Olson
ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, Washington,
Sept. 27, 1866.
Dear boy, & comrade,1
I am not only alive, but as well & hearty as ever I was—& more [than] that, I often think about you, Alfred, & retain the same friendship that we formed when I used to sit down on your bed when you was so low in the hospital. If I hadn't got your letter of 23d, I should likely have written to you very soon, of my own accord, for I thought about you the last few weeks in particular. I have been home in Brooklyn the last two months, to see my mother, & pay a visit to New York, &c. and I only returned day before yesterday. I am still employed in this Department, shall probably remain here through the winter, (although nothing is certain now-days)—Washington is rather dull—no more soldiers around like there used to be—no more patrols marching around the streets—no more great racks of hospitals—I get along well enough in this city in pleasant weather, when one can go around, but it's rough in bad weather.
Al, I got the picture, dear boy, & I have it yet, & take good care of it, & take a good look at it every now & then—I think it is a good likeness. It is now a year ago since you sent it—you spoke in that letter of your parents—You must give my love to them, & if it should be practicable I should like much to make them a call—but yet it does not seem likely as things are at present. But I wonder whether we shall ever come together again, you & I, my loving soldier boy. O how much comfort it would be to me, if things were so that we could have each other's society—for I think so much of such things.
I am writing this at my table by a big window in the Office, where I can look out & see the Potomac away down to Alexandria, & across all up & down Arlington Heights, & near at hand the grounds south of the President's House—it is a splendid day to-day, bright & clear & just cool enough—& I feel in good health—& all the better on account of your letter arriving. Well I must draw to a close.
I hope, dear comrade, you are trying to be an honorable & upright young man, for that is more than the greatest worldly prosperity, or learning either.
I send you my love, & must now bid you farewell for present, dear soldier boy.
1. All that is known about Alfred Pratt is contained in this letter and those of June 10, 1865, August 7, 1865, August 26, 1865, January 29, 1867, July 25, 1867, October 28, 1867, July 1, 1869, and January 20, 1870. [back]