Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: S. H. Childs (for Caleb H. Babbitt) to Walt Whitman, 26 October 1863

Date: October 26, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00150

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), 106. 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, Kathryn Kruger, Tim Jackson, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Nick Krauter

Caleb Babbitt1 wishes me to write you a few lines to let you know where he is. as you will see by the heading of this letter that he is in a Hospital in Boston. he Is unable to set up & suffers considerable pain

In his head. you will probably see Mr Archibald & he will Inform you how he Is getting along. he wishes you to say something about Miss Clark to him If you write to Miss C her Address Is Barre, Mass. Babbitt wishes you to write to him.


1. On October 28, 1863, Whitman wrote to Margaret S. Curtis to ask that she check on the welfare of Babbitt. As Whitman informed Mrs. Curtis in the letter, Caleb Babbitt suffered a sun stroke in July and was admitted to Armory Square Hospital. According to the "Hospital Note Book" (Henry E. Huntington Library), Babbitt had been in Mobile earlier. About August 1, he left Washington on furlough. On August 18, 1863, Caleb's sister, Mary A. Babbitt informed Whitman of Caleb's arrival in Barre, Massachusetts; because of his exhaustion he was unable to write. Mary acknowledged Whitman's letter on September 6, 1863, and wrote that Caleb was "not quite as well as when I wrote you before…he wishes me to tell you to keep writing…for your letters do him more good than a great deal of medicine." On September 18, 1863, at the expiration of his forty-day furlough, Caleb was strong enough to write: "Walt—In your letters you wish me to imagine you talking with me when I read them, well I do, and it does very well to think about, but it is nothing compared with the original." On October 18, 1863, Babbitt was depressed ("dark clouds seem to be lying in my pathway and I can not remove them nor hide them from my mind") until he mentioned his beloved, Nellie F. Clark, who "has saved me." See also Whitman's letters from October 28, 1863, December 27, 1863, and February 8, 1864. (This letter is in two pieces, on the verso of which appears the draft letter to Bethuel Smith from October 7, 1863.) [back]


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