Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Jesse Mullery to Walt Whitman, 20 February 1866

Date: February 20, 1866

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03535

Source: The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, 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.

Notes for this letter were created by Whitman Archive staff and/or were derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller, 6 vols. (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), and supplemented or updated by Whitman Archive staff.

Editorial notes: The annotations, "Atty Gen Office," "Ltr Jesse Mullins," and "Attorney Genl office)," are in the hand of Walt Whitman.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Eder Jaramillo, John Schwaninger, Caterina Bernardini, Amanda J. Axley, Cristin Noonan, Paige Wilkinaon, Kassie Jo Baron, and Stephanie Blalock

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Warwick N.Y.1
Feb 20th 1866

Dear Friend

Yours of the 7th came to hand some time ago, but I have not as yet taken time to answer it.2 I have been about sick with a cold on my lungs, and after my days work was done I did not feel like writing.

I hope you are enjoying good health this winter. I am going to give up my place the first of Apr. I dont think it avisable for me confine myself to a store.

My health will not admit of it. I Red a letter from Miss Howard3 last evening stating that her sister died last fall—I had not heard from her since I left Washington. How I pity her. Often when my mind wanders back to the days that I spent in Armory Square,4 I can but cry. I often think I see her coming toward me, and the same sad smile on her countenance as in thoes days. I cannot tell how much I owe you & Miss Howard for favors while in Hospital at Washington. I lost a very near and dear friend and Brother in the Service of the United States and I know how to pity thoes that meet with similar losses.

I cannot write more at present But beleive me sincerely your true Friend although I am far away from you.

My Hearts desire is that you may live a long and happy life and when you leave this Earth you may be prepared for a better life—

Hoping to hear from you soon I close

please write Soon—
Jesse R. Mullery

To Walt Whitman

According to Whitman's "Hospital Book 12" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection), Sergeant Jesse Mullery, Company K, Fifteenth New Jersey, was in Ward A, Armory Square Hospital, on May 14, 1864. The twenty-year-old boy had been "shot through shoulder, ball in lung—(ball still in probably near lung)—lost right finger." On June 23, 1864, he went home to Vernon, New Jersey, on furlough, and then served as assistant cook in the army hospital in Newark. On December 21, 1864, Mullery proposed a visit to Brooklyn. He was still at the Newark hospital on January 23, 1865. According to his letters of May 3 and June 11, 1865, he later was able to return to active duty. By 1866, Mullery was employed in a store in New York.


1. This letter is addressed: Mr. Walter Whitman | Washington. | D.C. It is postmarked: Warwick | FEB | [2]1 | [N.Y.]; CARRIER | FEB | 22 | 1 P.M. [back]

2. This letter has not been located. [back]

3. In several letters Mullery referred to the kindnesses of Miss Howard while he was in the hospital, and another soldier, Charles H. Harris, on May 30, 1864, asked to be remembered to Miss Howard and her sister. Probably these were the Misses Sallie and Carrie Howard listed in the 1866 Directory, or Miss Garaphelia Howard—a writer, women's rights supporter, and fellow copyist with Whitman in the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster General’s Office. Garaphelia Howard is mentioned in Whitman's letter to Ellen O'Connor (1830–1913) of February 3, 1874, and discussed in Will Hansen's post "Walt and Garaphelia" for The Newberry Library Blog. [back]

4. 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]


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