In Whitman's Hand

Notebooks

About this Item

Title: scene in the woods on

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1863

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00484

Source: Notebook LC #101 [Hospital Notebook] |  The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images of the original and from microfilm images at the Library of Congress's website "Poet at Work: Walt Whitman Notebooks 1850s–1860s," part of the "American Memory" project. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the notebooks, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: The contents of this notebook were written during Whitman's hospital visits to wounded soldiers. The dated entries are from mid-1863, and the other notes probably date to about the same time. The prose narrative at the beginning probably describes the battle of White Oak Swamp and is the basis for the poem "A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown," which first appeared in Drum-Taps (1865).

Notes written on manuscript: On leaf 1 recto, in unknown hand: "Hospital Note Book Walt Whitman"

Contributors to digital file: Brett Barney, Eric Conrad, and Nicole Gray



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scene in the woods on the peninsula—told me by Milton Roberts, ward G (Maine)

after the battle of White Oaks church, on the retreat, the march at night—the scene between 12 & 2 o'clock that night at the church in the woods, the hospital show at night, the wounded brought in—previous the silent stealthy march through the woods, at times stumbling over the bodies of dead men in the road, (there had been terrible fighting there


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the that day, only closing at dark)—we retreating the ^artillery horses feet muffled. orders that men should tread light & only speak in whispers—

Then between 12 midnight & 1 oclock we halted to rest a couple of hours at an opening in the woods—in this opening was a pretty good sized old church used improm impromptu for a hospital for the wounded of the


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battles of the day thereabout—with these it was filled, all varieties, horrible beyond description— ^—the darkness dimly lit with candles, lamps, torches, moving about, but dark but plenty of darkness & half darkness.—the crowds of wounded, bloody & pale, the surgeons operating—the yards outside also filled—they lay on the ground ^some on blankets, some on stray planks, or

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—the desp despairing screams & curses of some out of their senses, the murky darkness, the great gleaming of the torches, the smoke from them too, the doctors operating, the scent of chloroform, the glisten of the steel instruments as as the flash of lamps fell upon them


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Sept 12

ward I bed 35


———

Levi W Tarkett

co E 143rd NYV

admitted July 11

find D C Tarkett

West Brookville NY


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after at Antietam there was a very large barn & farm house—the barn was filled with wounded, & the barn yard, an the farm house as full as it could stick—a peaceful barn, now bloody the fragrant hay they used to place the men on for operations—they turned the cattle out of their stalls


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ward F. bed 50

admitted Aug 19

Adelbert Dolliver

co B 111 Penn


———

mother Mrs. Melinda Morrison


———

Tidioute, Warren co Penn


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Fever, (only 15 yr's old 22 Nov.'62)


———

ward G. H. or I. young man I promised to come in & read to—sick with fever—he cannot read steadily himself—his head swims—take him the paper—


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ward D bed 37

Isaac Livensparger

co H. 55th Ohio

gun shot w'd left leg

admitted June 15th

father John Livensparger

Lykenston Crawford co Ohio


——————————

ward K bed 37


———

Asbury Allen

co D. 27th Indiana

diarrhea, bronchitis, & trouble in privates


———

some quince jelly

father W Allen

Noblesville Hamilton co Ind


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ward A.

Aug 28-9-'63

Bethuel Smith

cavalry, wounded in foot.


———

father Mclauc[?]lin [hon?] Christopher? Smith

? Glen's Falls, Warren co. N.Y.


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ward H bed 3

Aug 29

Willis Northrop, (age 19)

co G. 108 N.Y.

chronic pleuritis, pretty weak. has had diarrhea

father Ranson Northrop

Webster, Monroe co N.Y.


———

some brandy


———

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ward A bed 41

Pleasant Borley

co A 1 Reg Cav.

g s w left leg

brother John Borley

Epton po

Davis co Ind


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Bethuel Smith

co F. 2nd US Cav

father Christopher Smith

Glen's Falls Warren co NY


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Bethuel Smith

co F 2nd US Cavalry

Glen's Falls

Warren co NY

father Christopher Smith

September 9 1863—

Bethuel Smith


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