Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to N. M. and John B. Pratt, 10 June 1865

Date: June 10, 1865

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00842

Source: The 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), 1:263-264. 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, and Alyssa Olson

June 10, 1865.

Mr. & Mrs. Pratt:

As I am visiting your son Alfred1 occasionally, to cheer him up in his sickness in hospital, I thought you might like a few words, though from a stranger, yet a friend to your boy. I was there last night, and sat a while by the bed, as usual, & he showed me the letter he had just received from home. He wrote to you yesterday. He has had diarrhea pretty bad, but is now improved & goes about the hospital—but as the weather is pretty hot & powerful in the midst of the day, I advised him not to go outdoors much at present. What he wants most is rest, and a chance to get his strength again. I expect he will improve by degrees, & I hope it will not be very long before he will be sent home—though I don't know, as I am only a friend, occasionally visiting the hospitals. Alfred has good accommodations where he is, & a good doctor, & nursing—so you must not worry about him. I shall stop & see him a little every day, as he likes to have me, & I like him too. Poor young men, there are hundreds & thousands of them here, wounded or sick, in the great army hospitals—many of them suffering with amputations & wounds—others with sickness, & so faint & weak, this weather—it is enough to make one's heart bleed—

As to Alfred, he is comparatively well off, there are so many with bad wounds &c.—the deaths are quite frequent. He will soon be restored, according to present appearances.

We are having very hot weather here, & it is dry & dusty—The City is alive with soldiers from both the Army of the Potomac & the Western Armies, brought here by Sherman. There have been some great Reviews here, as you have seen in the papers—& thousands of soldiers are going home every day.

You must write to Alfred often, as it cheers up a boy sick & away from home. Write all about domestic & farm incidents, and as cheerful as may be. Direct to him, in Ward C, Armory Square Hospital, Washington, D. C. Should any thing occur, I will write you again, but I feel confident he will continue doing well. For the present farewell.

Walt Whitman

Washington D C


1. All that is known about Alfred Pratt is contained in this letter and those of August 7, 1865, August 26, 1865, September 27, 1866, January 29, 1867, July 25, 1867, October 28, 1867, July 1, 1869, and January 20, 1870[back]


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