Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Caleb H. Babbitt to Walt Whitman, 18 October 1863

Date: October 18, 1863

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Drum Beats: Walt Whitman's Civil War Boy Lovers, ed. Charley Shively (San Francisco, California: Gay Sunshine Press, 1989), 105-106. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Location: Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00148

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Tim Jackson, Vanessa Steinroetter, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter





Dear Walt,

Your welcom letter of the 27th I1 recd Tuesday but did not feel in a writing moode, so I have delayed it until now. I do not know but you think me rather neglectful in my writing to you but if you knew the pain that I have in my head, the whole of the time you would not think hard of me.

Walt—I am sorry that I am as feeble, and that my friends and likewise my Doctor think that I never shall be able to join my Regt, it is hard for me to gaze or to think of the future, dark clouds seem to be lying in my pathway and I can not seem to remove them nor hide them from my mind, I have tried to look on the bright side of the picture, but Walt—how can I look on the bright side when they are both dark

Walt—I have been verry low since I have been at home, and all that has saved me is good nursing and some one to cheer me (which two things I have had) and now and then a letter from you. I must tell you who I have had to cheer and nurse me, besides my parents and sisters: is a young Lady whom I think the world of, yes : might as well tell you, that it is one I love. I feel she has saved me, in the worst of my sickness she hardly left my room how often have I thought what would become of me if it were not for her.

Tuesday, she whent to V[ermon]t on a visit and will not be at home for several weeks, so I want you to write to her for Walt—she is one of the best Ladies in the world. I wish you could see her for I know you would like her and I know you will think a great deal of her for her taking such care of me promise me you will write to her, for it used to make her happy to read one of your letters to me  her address is Nellie F. Clark West Hartford Vt.

I will now close hoping to hear from you soon I am yours with love and respect


Notes:

1. Caleb Babbitt suffered a sun stroke in July and was admitted to Armory Square Hospital. According to the "Hospital Note Book" (Henry E. Huntington Library), Babbitt had been in Mobile, Alabama, earlier. About August 1, 1863, he left Washington on furlough. On August 18, 1863, Caleb's sister, Mary A. Babbitt informed Whitman of Caleb's arrival in Barre, Massachusetts; because of his exhaustion he was unable to write. Mary acknowledged Whitman's letter on September 6, 1863, and wrote that Caleb was "not quite as well as when I wrote you before…he wishes me to tell you to keep writing…for your letters do him more good than a great deal of medicine." On September 18, 1863, at the expiration of his forty-day furlough, Caleb was strong enough to write: "Walt—In your letters you wish me to imagine you talking with me when I read them, well I do, and it does very well to think about, but it is nothing compared with the original." On October 26, 1863, S. H. Childs wrote for Caleb from the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston: "He Is unable to set up & suffers considerable pain In his head." See also Whitman's letters from December 27, 1863, and February 8, 1864.  [back]


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