Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Christopher and Maria Smith to Walt Whitman, 29 August 1864

Date: August 29, 1864

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00603

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), 183-184. 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, Vanessa Steinroetter, Eric Conrad, and Nick Krauter

kind Sir as we1 have recieved your letter you sent to Bethuel I will rite a few lines in this and send it to you which is Bethuel's own hand riting he was wounded the 11 of June in his right leg a little above his nee he rode in a government wagon 4 Days then on about one Day and night then he came to Washington he got a furlow the first Day of July for forty Days at which period he returned to Washington to the hosptial he was very thin in flesh but looked some better when he left home his health was not very good and if the [hospital] saves his life we expect him home again next month this from his parents

P.S. we will send your letter to Bethuel immediately we would be very glad to see you and are thankful to you for your kindness towards our son Come and make us a visit we live 5 miles from Glensfalls West


1. Christopher and Maria Smith were the parents of Bethuel Smith, Company F, Second U.S. Cavalry, who was wounded in 1863 and met Whitman shortly after. He wrote to Whitman on September 17, 1863, from the U.S. General Hospital at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, "I left the armory hospital in somewhat of A hurry." 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, 1864, as this letter states. He 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, N.Y. 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 Walt Whitman to Bethuel Smith, December 1874 (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 2:318–319). [back]


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