Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 5 February 1864

Date: February 5, 1864

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00809

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 Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 1:195. 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, Bev Rilett, and Alyssa Olson

Friday afternoon Feb 5

Dearest Mother

I am going down in front, in the midst of the Army, to-morrow morning, to be gone for about a week1—so I thought I would write you a few lines now, to let you know—

Mother, I suppose you got my letter written last Tuesday—I have not got any from home now for a number of days—I am well & hearty—the young man Lewis Brown is able to be up a little on crutches—there are quite a number of sick young men, I have taken in hand, from the late arrivals, that I am sorry to leave—sick & downhearted & lonesome, they think so much of a friend, & I get so attached to them too—but I want to go down in camp once more very much—& I think I shall be back in a week—I shall spend most of my time among the sick & wounded in the Camp hospitals—if I had means I should stop with them, poor boys, or go down among them periodically, dispensing what I had, as long as the war lasts, down among the worst of it—(although what are collected here in hospital, seem to me about as severe and needy cases as any after all)—

Mother, I want to hear about you all,2 & about George & how he is spending his time home—Mother, I do hope you are well & in good spirits & Jeff & Mat & all, & dear little California & Hattie—I send them all my love—Mother, I may write to you from down in front—so good bye, dear mother, for present—


I hope I shall find several letters waiting for me when I get back here—


1. Whitman's "Hospital Book 12" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection) contains two entries from Culpepper dated February 7 and 9. Both are descriptive accounts, the first of the movement of troops and the second of the scenery near the town. See also the note to the letter from February 12, 1864[back]

2. No letters from the family are extant in January and February, except for Jeff Whitman's brief note on January 8 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection). [back]


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