Title: Walt Whitman to Thomas P. Sawyer, 20 (?) November 1863
Date: November 20, 1863
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 1:185-186. 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, New York Public Library
Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00186
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Tim Jackson, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Alyssa Olson
I am here in Brooklyn, New York, spending a few weeks home at my mother's. I left Washington Nov 2d, & shall return there next week. I wrote to you six or seven weeks ago, the last time.2 I am well & fat, eat my rations regular, & weigh about 200—so you see I am not very delicate. Here in Brooklyn & New York where I was raised, I have so many friends, I believe, now I am here they will kill me with kindness, I go around too much, & I think it would be policy for me to put back to Washington. I have a brother here, very sick, I do not think he can recover, he has been in the army—I have another brother in the 9th Army Corps, has been out 26 months. But the greatest patriot in the family is my old mother. She always wants to hear about the soldiers, & would give her last dime3 to any soldier that needed it.
Every thing looks on the rush here in these great cities, more people, more business, more prosperity, & more of every thing to eat & wear, than ever. Tom, I was home in time to vote. The elections went bully. How are you copperheads? I think these last elections will be a settler for all traitors north, & they are the worst.
I shall be back in Washington next Tuesday. My room is 456 Sixth street. But my letters are still addrest care of Major Hapgood, paymaster U S A, Washington D C.
Well, comrade, I must close. I do not know why you do not write to me. Do you wish to shake me off? That I cannot believe, for I have the same love for you that I exprest in my letters last spring, & I am confident you have the same for me. Anyhow I go on my own gait, & wherever I am in this world, while I have a meal, or a dollar, or if I should have some shanty of my own, no living man will ever be more welcome there than Tom Sawyer. So good by, dear comrade, & God bless you, & if fortune should keep you from me here, in this world, it must not hereafter.
1. Endorsed (by Walt Whitman): "Nov. 63." Draft Letter. [back]
2. This letter is not extant. Thomas ("Tom") P. Sawyer was a friend of Lewis Kirke Brown's, and a sergeant in the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers. The 11th Massachusetts, under Lieutenant Colonel Porter D. Tripp, suffered heavy losses on July 2, 1863, in defense of the Emmitsburg Road at the Battle of Gettysburg. [back]
3. Originally Whitman wrote: "& would take the clothes off her back to give . . ." [back]