Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: George Washington Whitman to Walt Whitman, 16 April 1864

Date: April 16, 1864

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00352

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. The transcription presented here is derived from George Washington Whitman, Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman, ed. Jerome M. Loving (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975), 115–117. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Vanessa Steinroetter, Janel Cayer, Sarah Synovec, Kathryn Kruger, Gillian Price, and April Lambert

Camp near Annapolis Md  
Apl. 16th [1864]

Dear Brother Walt.1

Well here we are nicely fixed in our new Camp at last.

A few days after I last wrote you (we were then in barracks) we pitched camp in a wet marshy place,—and just about the time we got our tents up it commenced to rain, and kept it up steady for two days. The boys had the devils own time to keep from getting swamped,  I just fixed my bunk so there was no danger of my getting drowned, and then turned in and slept till it stopped raining. As soon as it cleared up we pulled up stakes and came here, where we have a nice dry camp and everything comfortable.

We are about 2½ miles from the town and about ½ a mile above Camp Parole. Well Walt we had rather a tedious journey way down there in Tenn (two weeks steady car riding aint much fun I tell you) but then we saw considerable of that part of the Country  We left New York Feb 25  went to Albany, from there to Buffalo, from there to Indianapolis, from there to Jeffersonville and crossed the River to Louisville, stayed here a couple of days waiting for Transportation, and then went to Nashville  from there to Chattanooga,  had the pleasure of seeing Genl Thomas, and the celabrated Lookout Mt.2 and then went on to Knoxville, where we stopped two or three days, drawing ammunition, shelter tents for men and Officers and Camp & Garrison equipage,  here we were ordered to leave all surplus baggage and we started off on the march for a place called Mossy Creek about 40 miles from Knoxville where it was said there was a small force of Rebs. After a march of two days we reached the Creek and found everything quiet and after staying there one night we were ordered to bout face and march back to Knoxville, where we took the cars again and came back over the same route.

East Tenn no doubt was a very nice place before the war, but now its about the last place that I want to go to. The most of the large farmers and rich men seems to have gone off with the rebs, and the poor folks have about all they can do, to get bacon and corn meal enough to keepp them alive. Knoxville looks as if it might have been quite a nice place, once upon a time, but there is not the least signs of business neither there or at Chattanoonga except it is, business connected with Military affairs. It must have been pretty hard times in Knoxville during the siege,3 as our Brigade say, that for some days, all the Commissary Stores issued, was three ears of corn to each man for his days rations.

Walt, I have expected you on here almost every day. I got your letter of Apl 9th. I wrote Mother yesterday, and shall write to her often. Mother I fear is not very well this Spring,  I do wish she would not wory and work the way she does,  One thing is certain she cant always expect to work and slave as she always has done, and I think the sooner she slacks up the better it will be for her.

I am first rate,  we have had about 65 or 70 Recruits and we hear there are some 150 or 200 more in New York for us. General Grant and Burnside4 paid us a visit a few days ago,  we had no review or any thing of that kind but the Regt just fell in line and Grant rode along and looked at them and then went on about his business.  We are getting quite a large force here and there is considerable speculation as to where we are going, but the general impression is that we will go back to North Carolina and through into Virginia. While Lee moves up from the front towards Richmond, but it seems to me time that something was underway if we are going to do much this Spring. I dont see any signs of our leaving here for some time yet. We are haveing lots of drills, and have been kept pretty buisy since we have been here.

Col LeGendre,5 & Capt Sims6 are on to New York yet recruiting, (Sims has been there since last Sept)  Pooley7 is here and just as good natured as ever,  McReady8 is 2d Lieut of my Co but is now in command of Co F  Frank Butler9 is fat as ever. Well Walt it is chilly Sitting here writing so I am going to knock off and go to bed.

So Good Night

come and see us as soon as you can
G. W. Whitman


1. See Walt Whitman's letter to George Whitman dated April 9, 1864[back]

2. George Henry Thomas (1816–1870) was called "the Rock of Chickamauga" because his forces held their position while the rest of Rosecrans's army retreated to Chattanooga (September 19–20, 1863). During the battle of Lookout Mountain—Missionary Ridge (November 23–25, 1863), Thomas's troops stormed the heights of Missionary Ridge and drove Bragg's army from its entrenchments. [back]

3. During the period of November 17–29, 1863, Burnside's army was besieged by Longstreet's forces. [back]

4. See George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, February 9, 1862[back]

5. See George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, March 16, 1862[back]

6. See George Washington Whitman to Walt Whitman, January 13, 1863[back]

7. Samuel M. Pooley of the 51st Regiment, New York State Volunteers. In his notes on the Fifty-First Regiment, Walt Whitman wrote that he was "born in Cornwall, Eng. 1836—struck out & came to America when 14—has lived mostly in Buffalo [,] learnt ship joining—left Buffalo in the military service U.S. June, 1861—came out as private—was made 2d Lieut at South Mountain.  Made Captain Aug. 1864—got a family in Buffalo" (Walt Whitman Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University). [back]

8. See George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, October 16, 1863[back]

9. See George Washington Whitman to Walt Whitman, February 1, 1863[back]


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