Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William E. Vandemark to Walt Whitman, 29 December 1863

Date: December 29, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00156

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), 207-208. 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 father

to day i1 received a letter from yo and i was glad to here from yo i am not very well and have not ben for some time i have pain in my head and breast i think the clorform that i have taken is the caus of it my hip is very painful to day i was exasamend i think that i will go before the board in a day or two i may get my discharge i have hurd that my ridgement is going home for the winter to recruit thair is only 17 men left inny more for duty father i long to see yo and have a talk with yo i will try and get a pas to go to Washington to see yo after i have ben before the board for another exsamanation

father i hope yo had a good time a Crismis & i hope yo en Joyed yiour Self wat a blessed privelge it is to be so that we can en Joy the privelage wile some are on beds of sickness and have ben cut off in their youth—

dear father i wish yo a happy new yrs and a good time i will try and get a pas to come and see yo next friday i hante sure of getting one yet but i will try to get one—i like this place very well here i will never go to new york agin on a trans bus for they use men thair worse than dogs i would have done better if i had staid in washington they know how to use men thair and how to tak cair of them wen i see yo i will tel yo all

I think the war is nearly ended now I hope it is at all events, for thair has been men enuf lost on both sides in one war how many widows and orphans it has caused all ready—i wish that i could get detailed in washington at some thing that i coud do i woud be very glad and would try to do my duty—father let me Know how things gets a long in army squair tel crain that hante had answer from the letter that i sent him and i would like to here from him i have seen hathford wen i was home and had a talk with him he is all rite now

father i will close good by dear father and friend from a friend William E Vandermark to a dear friend Walt Whitman good by


1. William E. Vandemark, a private in Company I of the 120th New York Infantry, was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863. Whitman noted that Vandemark was placed in “bed 39—Ward B” at Armory Square Hospital, and Whitman may have written a letter to Vandemark's sister Sarah in Accord, New York (Edward F. Grier, ed., Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts, [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 2:644). Vandemark returned home on furlough and was briefly transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps during the summer of 1864 before returning to his regiment. He was killed on a skirmish line during the charge on Fort Davis at Petersburg, Virginia, on September 28, 1864. [back]


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