Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Bethuel Smith to Walt Whitman, 17 September 1863

Date: September 17, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00597

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), 181-183. 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, Kathryn Kruger, Tim Jackson, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Nick Krauter

Dear friend walt

I1 received your kind letter & was verry glad to hear from you & to hear that you was well I left the armory hospittal in somewhat of A hurry I went in the ambulance to the depot & took the Cars north at 11 oclock & we got to philadelphia about 2 oclock there we got some bread & ham & coffee we stayed there till three & then we started to harrisburg we got there about dark & stayed there all night the next day we started for Carlisle we got to Carlisle about 10 in the morning we went in to hospittal tents we have rather poor accomodating her[e] the foot is getting better fast I can get around quite smart on it. I think in A few days I Can put on my boots & not hurt me much of anny  there is lots of fruits here & Cakes pies &c. but it dont do me much good for I have not got any money to buy it with I wish that you would send me A few of them ten cents noats if you pleas it is verry loansome here to me

I hope that I shall soon gow to my regiment for I dont like to stay here verry well I would like to see you verry well

well walt I dont now as I have anny more to write at present so good by for this time write soon please


1. Bethuel Smith, Company F, Second U.S. Cavalry, was wounded in 1863. He expected, he explained on September 28, 1863, to rejoin his regiment shortly, and was stationed near Washington when he wrote on October 13, 1863. He wrote on December 16, 1863, from Culpeper, Virginia, that he was doing provost duty, and on February 28, 1864, he was in a camp near Mitchell Station, Virginia, where "the duty is verry hard." He was wounded again on June 11 (so his parents reported to Whitman on August 29, 1864), was transported to Washington, and went home on furlough on July 1. He returned on August 14 to Finley Hospital, where, on August 30, 1864, he wrote to Whitman: "I would like to see you verry much, I have drempt of you often & thought of you oftener still." He expected to leave the next day for Carlisle Barracks to be mustered out, and on October 22, 1864, he wrote to Whitman from Queensbury, New York. When his parents communicated with Walt Whitman on January 26, 1865, Bethuel was well enough to perform tasks on the farm. Smith was one of the soldiers to whom Whitman wrote ten years later; see Whitman's letter to Bethuel Smith, December 1874 (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence, 6 vols. [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 2:318–319). [back]


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