Title: Elijah Douglass Fox to Walt Whitman, 14 July 1864
Date: July 14, 1864
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Calamus Lovers: Walt Whitman's Working-Class Camerados, ed. Charley Shively (San Francisco, California: Gay Sunshine Press, 1987), 84. 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.00166
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter
I1 received your kind letter, and it will be impossible for me to tell how glad I was to hear from you again though very sorry to hear that you had been sick. Oh! I should like to have been with you so I could have nursed you back to health & strength, but if you were with your mother no doubt you were taken care of better than I could have done for you but I would liked to have been with you anyway I could have read to you and talked with you if nothing more I am afraid I shall never be able to recompense you for your kind care and the trouble I made you while I was sick in the hospital unless you are already paid by knowing you have helped the sick and suffering soldiers many of them will never cease to remember you and to ask God's blessing to rest upon you while you and they live there is no one such as you at least I have often thought of you and wondered where you were if you were still visiting Armory Square Hospt I believe I wrote to you that you had two Children instead of one, you know I used to call you Father or "Pa," and I still think of you as such for I am sure no Father could have cared for their own child, better than you did me, if you could see your other child I think you would like her better than you did me for I do. I have also been very sick since you heard from me, for two weeks I knew nothing, was perfectly insane. I was taken with some kind of spasm and for two or three days many said I could not live but I had a good Doctor and have almost regained my health but think I shall never be able to do hard work again Mary sends her love to you she often talks about you she sends her thanks to you for your kindness to me and hopes you may soon regain your health, but I must stop for this time write soon and often the reason I did not write was that I wrote once and received no answer I thought you had left there but now you shall hear from me often no more I remain your Son & Comrade E. D. Fox
1. Elijah Douglass Fox was a Union soldier in the Third Infantry Wisconsin. At the time of his enlistment in May 1861, he resided in Buena Vista, Wisconsin. According to the "Notebook: September–October, 1863" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection), Fox was brought to Armory Square Hospital on September 26, 1863; it was here where he met Walt Whitman. He was discharged from the Union army on November 10, 1863, due to disability. Fox often addressed Whitman as "father" in his correspondence; see Fox's November 10, 1863, as an example of Whitman's paternal relationship with Fox. [back]