Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to William D. and Ellen M. O'Connor, 26 March 1865

Date: March 26, 1865

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00198

Source: Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection, New York Public Library. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 1:256-257. 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, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Alyssa Olson

ENGINEER'S OFFICE, NASSAU WATER DEPT. 355 Fulton Street, | Brooklyn, N. Y., March 26 1865.1

My dear William & Nelly O'Connor,

I write a few lines to tell you how I find the folks at home—Both my mother & brother George looked much better than I expected—Mother is quite well, considering—she goes about her household affairs pretty much the same as ever, & is cheerful.

My brother would be in what I would almost call fair condition, if it were not that his legs are affected—it seems to me it is rheumatism, following the fever he had2—but I don't know—He goes to bed quite sleepy & falls to sleep—but then soon wakes, & frequently little or no more sleep that night—he most always leaves the bed, & comes downstairs, & passes the night on the sofa. He goes out most every day though—some days has to lay by—He is going to report to Annapolis promptly when his furlough is up—I told him I had no doubt I could get it extended, but he does not wish it—He says little, but is in first rate spirits.

I am feeling finely—& never enjoyed a visit home more than I am doing this.

I find myself perplexed about printing my book. All the printers tell me I could not pick a more inopportune time—that in ten days prices of paper, composition &c will all be very much lower &c. I shall decide tomorrow.

My brother Jeff wishes me to give you his sincerest thanks for your good will &c in the matter of the engineer's situation—Mother says he has talked much about it, & feels your kindness in it thoroughly.3

Martha & the little girls are well. My sister at Burlington Vt. is not well, & mother will probably pay a long visit there this summer.



1. This letter is addressed: Wm. D. O'Connor | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Brooklyn (?) | Mar | 27 | (?). [back]

2. About March 5, 1865, Mrs. Whitman described George's illness in prison camp: "he was very sick at one time. i think it was in january with the lung fever. he was six weeks in the hospital so bad that the doctor thought he would die . . . he was dilerious and lay in a stupor till the night the fever turned. he says he felt a thrill run through him and thought he was dying. he was in the dark. he cald to one of the nurses to bring a light and to raise him up and give him a piece of paper and pencil and he wrote to me that was his last night and what was due him from the goverment" (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Books, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library; Clarence Gohdes and Rollo G. Silver, ed., Faint Clews & Indirections [Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1949], 190). [back]

3. O'Connor recommended Jeff for a position as a "draughtsman," but Jeff, in a letter to O'Connor on March 16, 1865, declined because of lack of experience. [back]


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