Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Will W. Wallace to Walt Whitman, 5 April 1863

Date: April 5, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00594

Source: Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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), 208-210. 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, Joshua Ware, Kathryn Kruger, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Nick Krauter

Friend Walter

I1 have not forgotten you in the wanderings from Washington here. After five days and nights jolting in the cars I reached this point and was put on duty instanter—And such duty! Why I have worked night and day and it appears there is more to do now than when I came.

They only allow one steward to each Hospital, and it is an irksome office when such is the case. I am doing finely and in the course of a few weeks I think will have some leisure time. The Hospitals here were in a destitute condition, compared with those of the North. When I came to this Hospital they had no clothes to change one fourth of the patients. I immediately appealed to my lady friends and patriots in Philadelphia, and they have sent me on a fine lot of sanitary stores, yet not enough for the wants of the many admitted. Our Hospt is a large five story building and accommodates between 300 & 400 patients, most of whom are wounded in the continual skirmishing about Murfreesboro and Franklin.

I have never had better health in my life, perhaps I can explain it to you. I have five young ladies who act in the capacity of nurses—i e, one of them is French, young and beautiful to set your eyes upon. Can you not visit us and note for yourself? I think a change of climate will be beneficial.

How are Jack and Amos?2 I wish you would give me Amos's address, as I have lost the one he gave me. My regards to them and hope they are out of Campbell Hospital. What became of poor Dick?

I have been so busy I have neglected all correspondence so you will readily forget the seeming neglect

Hoping to hear from you at an early period I remain
Very respectfully
Your humble
Will Wallace
To the Prince of Bohemians Walt Whitman.

P..S. Send me that promised photograph and as soon as I find out your quarters I will return compt Will

I will tell you of the many secesh at the next writing


1. Will W. Wallace was a hospital steward at a Union hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitman probably met him in Campbell Hospital. [back]

2. Whitman saw Amos H. Vliet in the hospital tent at Falmouth on December 22, 1862, and mentioned him briefly in an article that appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of March 19, 1863 (Richard Maurice Bucke, ed., The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman (New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1902), 7:95–96). According to his diary (Charles I. Glicksberg, Walt Whitman and the Civil War [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933], 133), Whitman wrote a (lost) Letter to Vliet on May 2, 1863. "Jack" has not been identified but may refer to John Lowery. According to Whitman's jottings in "New York City Veterans" (Glicksberg, 67), he discovered John Lowery (here spelled Lowerie) on December 22, 1862, "in the Hospital on the ground at Falmouth." In Specimen Days (Richard Maurice Bucke, ed., The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman (New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1902), 4:51), Whitman writes: "I saw him lying on the ground at Fredericksburg last December, all bloody, just after the arm was taken off. He was very phlegmatic about it, munching away at a cracker in the remaining hand—made no fuss." [back]


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