Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Thomas M. Woodworth to Walt Whitman, 5 February 1871

Date: February 5, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01973

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, "From Tom Woodworth," and "New York D P.O," are in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Kathryn Kruger, John Schwaninger, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Caterina Bernardini, Amanda J. Axley, Cristin Noonan, and Stephanie Blalock

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Farmer Village, Seneca Co. N.Y.1
Feb 5th. 1871

Dear Friend Whitman

I suppose you think I have forgoten you and well you might think so for I have been very negligent in writing to you but you will please forgive me as when I returned from the Army I felt that I was 3 years behind and must soon do something tword fixing for old age. I have been in the West for 4 years past and returned to York State a few weeks ago think of staying here for a time to take care of my mother2—her health is quite poor.

As I spoke of forgeting you I will say I have not forgot you nor your friendly kindness twords me in Army Square Hospital3 I have thaught of you so many times and wondered where you was and how you was geting along I suppose you are in Washington so I will run the chances of taking this chat with you their. Now Father Whitman I wish to ask you a few questions concerning the soldier land Bounty Bill4 how much can a soldier that served 3 years take up and how long has he got to live on it before he can get a title also I wish to ask your advise where would be the best locality to take up said land I know you are better posted about these things than I am and shall expect what you have to say for the best. How are the times in the City now I dont expect it is as livly as during the war. I should like to see you very much why cant you come out here and spend a little time if you are not buisy come out and spend the summer I will do all I can to make it pleasant for you friend Wood5 lives near here he is well.

I have lost track of nearly all my old chums if I was able to travil I would like to see some of them for they were dear good boys. One thing more I would like to ask you could you get me a variety of flower seeds if so I will send you the money to pay for them and your trouble

I will have to draw my letter to a close for fear of wearing your patients to read it Please except my love and best wishe and please write soon and Oblige

your ever true Friend
Thomas M. Woodworth

Direct to Farmer Village
Seneca Co.

P.S. Please send me some of your Poems your choise ones for I always enjoyed them so much when you read them to me in old ward A I never shall forget what pains you took to help pass away our weary hours Our Heavenly Father will reward you for it.


Thomas Woodworth (1840–1912) was a Union soldier who served first in Company C of the 126th New York Infantry during the American Civil War. He later worked as a farmer and a day laborer in Seneca County, New York.


1. This letter is addressed: Mr Walter Whitman | Washington | D.C. It is postmarked: FARMER VILLAGE | N.Y.; [CARRIER] | [FEB | 10 | 8AM.[back]

2. Mary Ann Lynch Woodworth (1816–1902) was the mother of Thomas Woodworth. Thomas's father was Erastus Woodworth (1813–1862) who was a farmer in Seneca County, New York. [back]

3. Armory Square Hospital was the hospital Walt Whitman most frequently visited in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War. Because of Armory Square's location near a steamboat landing and railroad, it received the bulk of serious casualties from Virginia battlefields. At the end of the war, it recorded the highest number of deaths among Washington hospitals. See Martin G. Murray, "Traveling with the Wounded: Walt Whitman and Washington's Civil War Hospitals." [back]

4. Bounty land laws for soldiers were enacted in the United States after the Revolutionary War. The 1862 Homestead Act, which granted up to 160 acres of Western public lands to civilians and soldiers, had a minimal provision that allowed soldiers to claim this land before they reached the age of twenty-one. This provision hardly mattered, as most men who served in the Civil War turned twenty-one before war's end. An additional homestead act of 1872, which allowed soldiers to claim land with even fewer restrictions, was passed after this letter was written. [back]

5. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]


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