Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Anson Ryder, Jr., to Walt Whitman, 24 February 1867

Date: February 24, 1867

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01892

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.

Editorial notes: The annotations, "Anson Rider," "Bowling Green Ky Feb. 24, '67," and " Ans March 15, '67," are in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, John Schwaninger, Ashley Lawson, Caterina Bernardini, Amanda J. Axley, Cristin Noonan, Paige Wilkinson, Kassie Jo Baron, and Stephanie Blalock

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Bowling Green
Febry 24th

My Dear Friend

I was thinking to day whether I had answered your last letter or not but I am going to write you anyhow                The most news at present is about the high water of which we have plenty & to spare even to the big folks at Washington if they need any                The weather is warm and spring is fairly advanced people are plowing & wheat looks first although I am not interested in agriculture I am glad to see things thriving. I have been engaged in the oil business the past year but I find it a losing [game?] and now I am out of employment and floating around & its hard to tell when I shall turn up & whether it will be up side down or right side up If I had known in time I might possibly have got the nomination for Governor of this state but ex Gov. Helm2 has beat me. That you know would have been better than lying around idle now I must look for something else for a living. I might steal if I knew enough but I have not even the first rudiments of the profession and then it leads to unpleasant things when one gets caught at it I think of going to Nashville this week and can see if I can get work there something from blacking boots down to sweeping crossings I think if Gov Brownlow3 knew me he would not hesitate to give me a good berth in Tennessee but being of a modest disposition of course I cannot call his attention to my many merits

Now you must not think I am egotistical at all for I am not I am only telling you what most every one knows as true anything [about me?] It's Sunday evening I'm sitting alone sad & lonely, no dog to love no one to talk with Time hangs heavily and yet they say time flies [fleetly?], Ah it may be I have seen the time when minutes were hours & hours days but that is gone yes its near two years since those scenes were past And May God in his mercy deliver us from the curse of war where so many meet their death or are thrown back upon the world a poor miserable cripple a [invalid?] to themselves and of no benefit to country or friends

I remain affectionately
your friend
Anson Rider Junr

If4 you direct to this place I shall get your answer even if I am not here


Anson Ryder, Jr., a soldier, had apparently left Armory Square Hospital in 1865 and returned to his family at Cedar Lake, New York, accompanied by another injured soldier named Wood (probably Calvin B. Wood; see Notes and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts, ed. Edward F. Grier [New York: New York University Press, 1961–1984], 6:673). For other correspondence between Ryder and Walt Whitman, see Ryder's August 9, 1865, letter to Whitman. Excerpts from five of Whitman's letters to an unidentified ex-soldier (later identified as Anson Ryder, Jr.) were printed by Florence Hardiman Miller in the Overland Monthly under the title "Some Unpublished Letters of Walt Whitman's. Written to a Soldier Boy" in 1904. She was not able to date most of the letters or to offer any initial conjectures about the identity of the recipient. However, Edwin Haviland Miller later identified the soldier as Ryder. Florence Miller seems to imply that the correspondence continued into the early 1870s.


1. This letter is addressed: Mr Walt Whitman | Attorney Generals Office | Washington D.C. It is postmarked: Bowling Green | [illegible] | 26 | 68 | KY. [back]

2. John LaRue Helm (1802–1867) was governor of Kentucky from September 6, 1848–July 31, 1850, as a member of the Whig Party. He was re-elected for a nonconsecutive second term in 1867 as a member of the Democratic Party. Helm served only five days in of his second term, (September 3–September 8), before succumbing to his illness. [back]

3. William Gannaway Brownlow (1805–1877) was governor of Tennessee from 1865 to 1869. His work to prod Tennessee to pass the Fourteenth Amendment led to the readmission of the state (the first Confederate state readmitted) into the Union after the Civil War. [back]

4. This postscript is written upside down at the top of the fourth page of the letter. [back]


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