Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Le Baron Russell, 3 December 1863

Date: December 3, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: clc.00001

Source: Percival Library, Clifton College, Bristol, England. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Ted Genoways (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004), 7:21. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, Tim Jackson, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Nicole Gray

Dec. 3d 18632

Dear Friend,

Your note3 with $20 from a friend, (formerly a Breckenridge democrat) came safe. Doctor, I have been away for a few days, but have now returned to remain here certainly for the winter & ensuing spring, & probably for two or three years. I feel much possessed with the wounded & sick soldiers—they have taken a powerful hold of me, & I am very happy among them—it is perhaps the greatest interchange of magnetism human relations are capable of—I have told you how young & how American they mostly are—so on my own account—I shall continue as a missionary among them as sure as I live—I shall continue for years—tell your friend that his mony is being distributed as mony or what little purchas I find appropriate for the men of all states—I reject none of course—not rebel wounded nor blacks, nor any when I find them suffering & dying—Doctor to the other friends that assisted me in Boston & to yourself, I send my regards & love

Walt Whitman

Care Major Hapgood Paymaster U.S.A.

Dr. Le Baron Russell (1814–1819) was a Boston physician who was well acquainted with Ralph Waldo Emerson and James Redpath. Along with other philanthropically-minded citizens, Russell sent Whitman money to be used in easing the suffering of the Civil War wounded languishing in the Washington, D.C., area.


1. This letter is addressed: Dr L. B. Russell | 34 Mt Vernon street | Boston | Massachusetts. [back]

2. Whitman noted in his diary for December 3, 1863, the day his brother died: "Andrew died—I have just rec'd a telegraphic dispatch. Wrote to George—Han—Jeff—Dr Russell—John Stillwell" (Walt Whitman and the Civil War, ed. Charles I. Glicksberg [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933], 139–40). [back]

3. For Russell's letter see Thomas Donaldson, Walt Whitman: The Man (New York: F. P. Harper, 1896), 151. [back]


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