Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Lewis K. Brown to Walt Whitman, 5 September 1864

Date: September 5, 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), 86-88. 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.00169

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Eric Conrad, and Nick Krauter



I1 once more after a long delay will endeavor to converse with you with the aid of pens & paper. I received a answer to my first letter stating that you wer at home sick. I was very very sorry to hear of it indeed, for it appears to be very hard for you to be sick, after being amongst it so much in the Hospitals & doing so much to seas [cease ?] it among the suffering & sick Soldiers, but if it is the will of God I suppose it is for the best. I hope by the time this reaches you that you will be in the enjoyment of good health. I have got my discharge from the Hospitals about 3 weeks ago & am now employed in the Provost Marshall office at the corner of 18th & I St at the enrolling office I like the place very well but I dont know how long I will stay here. The salery is $ 3.00 per day & the work is very easy. We are allmost ready for the draft to come off I guess that by tomorrow Morning we will have all the cards wrote. there is over 2000 men to come out of the district & that is going to fetch some of the old rats out of their holes. There is a great deal of swindling done here now in the way of getting in substitutes they get some in that a[i]nt 15 years [old.] Some of the Brokers will make a man drunk & when he gets sober he will be a Soldier with the uniform on him. One of the detectives arrested a deserter belonging to the 14th Broklin Regiment that deserted at the first Battle of Bulls Run he has bin working for Adams & Co. Express here ever since until the detective got after him. he is now in Forrest Hall Georgetown. He will be assigned to some other regiment to serve the remainder of his time.

I was down at the Armory Square Hospital. things have changed very much there Dr. Bliss he charge2. The amiable Miss Lowell is still there & will be untill the end of the Chapter 3. Cate is Ward Master4. Benedict is M.C. little Billy is still there but his time is out the offices in the Ward each give him $5.00 per week to stay & dress their wounds for them5

I Board down in the city with Joseph Harris (who by the way sens his love to you)6. I have bin boarding up on 18th & H st untill Saturday I moved down. Jo is not enjoying good health he is sick nearly half of his time. he did not know your address or he would of writen to you e'er this probily he will write & send some with this. Adrian Bartlett is boarding there allso7 & we will have a pleasant time of it he is still in the tresaury & I think probibly will stay for some time.

Well I must stop & go to work now I will finish after while.

Noon. I will now write some more. I took a trip down to Alexander a few days ago I went down in the Morning about 10 A.M. & came home about 4 P.M. I had a very pleasant time only I broke my leg just as I got ready to come home & had some little difficulty in getting home without my cruches I got so I could walk quite well on my leg only last week my stump took a notion to brake out & there has bin two small pieces of bone come out but I think in a little while I will be ready to wear my leg again.

The weather here has bin very bad but until within this last few days it has moderated & is now very pleasant. It looks very much like rain to day but I don't know whither it will get it down or not

I guess I have wrote about all I can think of this [time] so I must close hoping very soon to hear from you I remain very affectionately your most sincear friend Hoping you will forgive all mistake &c I am as ever yours


Notes:

1. Lewis Kirke Brown (1843–1926) was wounded in the left leg near Rappahannock Station on August 19, 1862, and lay where he fell for four days. Eventually he was transferred to Armory Square Hospital, where Whitman met him, probably in February 1863. In a diary in the Library of Congress, Whitman described Brown on February 19, 1863, as "a most affectionate fellow, very fond of having me come and sit by him." Because the wound did not heal, the leg was amputated on January 5, 1864. Whitman was present and described the operation in a diary (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #103). Brown was mustered out in August 1864, and was employed in the Provost General's office in September; see Whitman's September 11, 1864. The following September he became a clerk in the Treasury Department, and was appointed Chief of the Paymaster's Division in 1880, a post which he held until his retirement in 1915. (This material draws upon a memorandum which was prepared by Brown's family and is now held in the Library of Congress.) [back]

2. D. Willard Bliss (1825–1889) was a surgeon with the Third Michigan Infantry, and afterward in charge of Armory Square Hospital. See John Homer Bliss, Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America (Boston, Massachusetts: John Homer Bliss, 1881), 545. He practiced medicine in Washington after the war; see Whitman's letter to Hiram Sholes from May 30, 1867 (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 1:331–332). When a pension for Whitman was proposed in the House of Representatives in 1887, Dr. Bliss was quoted: "I am of opinion that no one person who assisted in the hospitals during the war accomplished so much good to the soldiers and for the Government as Mr. Whitman" (Thomas Donaldson, Walt Whitman the Man [New York: Francis P. Harper, 1896], 169). [back]

3. Ana Lowell ("Miss Lowell") worked as a nurse in Armory Square Hospital during the Civil War. [back]

4. Charles Cate was a ward master in Armory Square Hospital. [back]

5. Brown possibly is referring to "Wm B. Douglass" whose nickname Whitman notes as "Billy" (Edward F. Grier, ed., Notes and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1961–84], 2:810). [back]

6. Joseph Harris was a patient at Armory Square Hospital. He was friends with some of Whitman's other Armory Square Hospital comrades, such as Lewis Brown and Adrian Bartlett. See Harris's letter to Whitman from September 5, 1864[back]

7. Adrian Bartlett was a friend of Joseph Harris and Lewis Brown; all three met Whitman while they were being treated at Armory Square Hospital. On July 18, 1864, Brown reported that he had not seen Bartlett and Harris since they returned from a spree to Baltimore on July 4, 1864. According to this letter, the three young men were living in a Washington boardinghouse; Harris was not in good health, and Bartlett worked in the Treasury Department. [back]


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