Title: Lewis K. Brown to Walt Whitman, 27 July 1863
Date: July 27, 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), 118. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin
Whitman Archive ID: tex.00127
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Tim Jackson, Vanessa Steinroetter, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter
Dear Freind Walter.
I1 again take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you to let you know how I am a getting This makes the second Letter that I have wrote to you but as I expect the other one did not reach you I will try, try again, or maybe you have bin sick or have not had time to write, but I hope that you are not sick for you could not have as good attendance thear as if you wer at home and I do not know what the boys about the Hospital would do for they would miss you verry much.
I got a letter from Tom. Sawyer2 on Saturday he is well and sens his love to you. he has bin in that Gettysburg Battle. he sais that it was awful, and that he never wants to see the like of it again
My health is verry good, and my leg dos still continue's to mend slowly—but verry slow, the Doctor has took out three little pieces of bone out of it since I came home.
I am enjoying my self as well as I can with my four legs but I cannot go about much yet I am a going out a carriage riding tomorrow if it dos not rain I do not know how I will stand it for it hurt me more riding from the Depot home than it did all the way in the cars.
I will be back to the hospital about the last of August. I would like to be thear in time to see the boys present Doctor Bliss3 with that Case of instruments on the 23 of August, that will be my anaversary it will be just a year since I came to that hospital on that day so I think I will have to hurry back to see it. The farmers have got pretty near don Harvisting and the crops are pretty good without it is grass and it is light and thear was so mutch wet weather that some of that was spoilt. No more at present but good by and write soon with my love to you and all enquiring friends, I remain your sincear friend Lewis K. Brown. Direct your letter to Lewis K. Brown Elkton, Cecil Country, (Md). paper is scarce so I will have to close good by and God bless you.
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. 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. D. Willard Bliss (18251889) 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, from about the year 1550 to 1880 (Boston: John Homer Bliss, 1881), 545. He practiced medicine in Washington after the war; see "Letter from Walt Whitman to Hiram Sholes, May 30, 1867" (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961], 1:331332). 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: F. P. Harper, 1896], 169). [back]