Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Will W. Wallace to Walt Whitman, 1 July 1863

Date: July 1, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00140

Source: Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Drum Beats: Walt Whitman's Civil War Boy Lovers, ed. Charley Shively (San Francisco, California: Gay Sunshine Press, 1989), 211-212. 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, Tim Jackson, Vanessa Steinroetter, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter

Dear Walt

I1 wrote to you some time since and have received no reply. Have you shuffled of this mortal coil and now roaming in the spirit-land? If so rapp and convince me of spiritualism. I have been unwell for some time back and the surgeons tell me liken unto die but I could not see it in that light So deferred taking a red cedar box on this occasion. I am on the improve and will continue to do so until I am "Richard himself again"

I have hoped to see you out in this dept now that the Ninth Army Corps has moved in this direction. Have you given over following the fortunes of the wandering Corps. I recieved a letter from Memphis some time since stating that they were on boats bound for Vicksburg

Well Walt, I am ambitious and write consulting you. I see many Inspectors in the Army, some as to cleanliness and discipline of Hospitals others as to the ventilation etc etc I have met a number whom I consider inqualified for the position from the fact that they are not acquainted with Hospital life. My ambition points to this branch for myself I feel qualified for an inspector of Hospitals and I think can produce testimonials and certificates to that effect from officers of high standing in this Dept and in the Ninth Army Corps. Can you bring any influence to bear on this matter in the City of Washington. You will confer quite a favor by replying in regard to this question.

Give my kind regard to Amos [Herbert]2 and others of Campbell Hospital.

The news in this Dept is meagre. Genl Rosencrans3 is "marching on" Rumor to night reports the capture of Tallahomie [Tullahoma, Tennessee] with 18000 prisoners. I do not credit the report myself. I know there will be a fight ere long as the Hospl have orders to ship the wounded of the last battle to Louisville and make room for others. The Army of the Potomac "Oh my" what has to come of it I hope to hear of brilliant achievements in that direction.

Write soon and favor your friend


1. Will W. Wallace was a hospital steward at a Union hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Whitman probably met him in Campbell Hospital. [back]

2. Whitman saw Amos H. Vliet in the hospital tent at Falmouth on December 22, 1862, and mentioned him briefly in an article that appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle of March 19, 1863 (Richard Maurice Bucke, ed., The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman [New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons 1902], 7:95–96). According to his diary (Charles I. Glicksberg, Walt Whitman and the Civil War [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933], 133), Whitman wrote a (lost) letter to Vliet on May 2, 1863. [back]

3. William Starke Rosecrans (1819–1898) was a general in the Union Army during the Civil War. Though he was successful in several early campaigns during the war, he is most known for his disastrous defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863. [back]


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