Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Reuben Farwell to Walt Whitman, 8 June 1864

Date: June 8, 1864

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00371

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. 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), 138. 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, Luke Hollis, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter

Dear Friend

I1 once promised to write you & as often as convient

So far I have fullfulled my part. Since my joineing My Regiment It has been nothing but marching & fighting the Johnnys. I can say that we are enough for them if not too much

There has not been a fight but what they have been worsted

Our Cavalry forces have started on an other raid of 10 days rations

I left the Regiment last Monday. The reason of my leaveing was because I could not see to ride or walk. I was poisioned how or in what manner I can not tell.

I will write to you as often as possible Even if it is pencil marks

I hope that this may find you enjoying good health Give my respects to the inmates of Ward. A, of Armory Square Hospital & tell Thom. Woodwurth that I would be very glad to hear from him. I will close by hopeing to see you before long


1. "Little Mitch," or Reuben Farwell, served with the Michigan Cavalry during the War and met Walt Whitman in Armory Square Hospital early in 1864, and upon his release from the hospital he corresponded with Whitman. After Farwell received his discharge on August 24, 1864, he returned to his home in Plymouth, Michigan. Evidently the correspondence was renewed when Whitman sent a post card on February 5, 1875. On March 5, 1875, Farwell, who owned a farm in Michigan, wrote: "Walt my dear old Friend how I would like to grasp your hand and give you a kiss as I did in the days of yore. what a satisfaction it would be to me." In Farwell's last letter, on August 16, 1875, he said that he was planning to leave shortly for California. Eleven letters from Farwell are in the Trent Collection. He is mentioned in Memoranda During the War (see The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman, 10 vols. [New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1902], 4:134). When Bucke wrote to Farwell after Walt Whitman's death, apparently only this one note, written "on the back of a circular," was extant (Miller). For Farwell's other correspondence with Whitman see April 30, 1864, May 5, 1864, June 16, 1864, October 2, 1864, November 7, 1864, November 21, 1864[back]


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