Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Aaron Smith to Walt Whitman, 21 January 1865

Date: January 21, 1865

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00867

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. 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, Vanessa Steinroetter, Eric Conrad, Heidi Bean, and Nicole Gray

page image
image 1
page image
image 2
page image
image 3

Camp 51st Regt. N.Y.V.V.
Near Petersburg Va
January 21st, 1865
Walt Whitman
Brooklyn N.Y.

Friend Whitman

It has been a long time since I1 have seen or heard from you, and I suppose that you have nearly forgotten me, but if you will think back you will remember a man by my name, whom you met in Carver Hospital Washington D. C. where we met then the first time. I never expected to be able to write you a line in the year 1865, but I have been spared for some other purpose I suppose. And now you will please accept my thanks for all the favors that you have shown me while lying then unable to help myself.

Lieut. Babcock2 has this morning recd a letter from Lieut. Caldwell3. Caldwell and all the rest of our officers are in Danville Military Prison Va, he mentions Maj Wright Capt. Whitman Pooley Sims Ackerson Waldron Carberry Hoyme Groenemeyer [Loughson?] Whitbeck & Murden, they are all doing well, & all they ask for is for something to eat, Hard Bread and Pork, or anything that can be sent them, and as it is impossible for us to get them anything how I hope some of you good people at home will try and do something for them4. Lieut Babcock has shown me a memorial of the Old 51st and if you could possibly send me a few copies I would be very much obliged to you for your trouble. Once more allow me to thank you for your kindness toward me while in Hospital.

Hoping to hear from you soon I remain

Very Respectfully Yours &c.
Lieut A. Smith
51st Regt N.Y.V.V.
1st Brig 2.d Division 9th A.C.


Please send a paper occasionally

[And?] oblige

A. Smith


1. Aaron Smith of the Fifty-first Regiment had previously written to Whitman on May 14 and July 13, 1864, while he was a patient at Carver Hospital, Washington. [back]

2. William E. Babcock was a lieutenant in the Fifty-first Regiment. [back]

3. Lieutenant William Caldwell had been captured at the same time as George. According to jottings in a notebook, dated May 23–24 (Barrett), Caldwell was born in Scotland and was 27 years old; he had been "in the same fights as George." [back]

4. Lieutenant Colonel John G. Wright was the commanding officer of George Whitman's Fifty-first New York Volunteer Regiment. Of Samuel M. Pooley, Walt Whitman wrote that he was "born in Cornwall, Eng. 1836—struck out & came to America when 14—has lived mostly in Buffalo[,] learnt ship joining—left Buffalo in the military service U.S. June, 1861—came out as private—was made 2d Lieut at South Mountain. Made Captain Aug. 1864—got a family in Buffalo" (Manuscripts of Walt Whitman in the Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University). Palin H. Sims was a member of George Washington Whitman's Fifty-First Regiment, New York State Volunteers. Lieutenant William T. Ackerson was born near Manalapan, New Jersey, in 1838. He enlisted in the Second Regiment, Ohio Volunteers in April 1861. In September of that same year he then enlisted with the Fifty-First Regiment, New York State Volunteers where he enrolled as first sergeant of Company F (and was eventually promoted to captain. "Waldron" was Frederick E. Waldron; additional details are unknown. "Carberry" was James H. Carberry; additional details are unknown. "Groenemeyer" was Herman Groenemeyer; additional details are unknown. "Murdern" was Schuyler Murden; additional details are unknown. The rest of these soldiers remain unidentified. [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.