Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Manville Wintersteen to Walt Whitman, 10 March 1875

Date: March 10, 1875

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00400

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, 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: Gay Sunshine Press, 1989), 227–228. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, John Schwaninger, Ashley Lawson, Kevin McMullen, Caterina Bernardini, Cristin Noonan, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock

Hampden, Ohio,
March 10, 1875

Friend Sir

I am glad to have the pleasur of wrighting to you again I receicved your welcome letter1 and papers, and your pictur witch I prised very much and knew the old friendly face in a moment loks very naturel in dead and I would like to spend a few oures talk with you I think we could enjoy a day if not more I shal never forget your hospitality and friendly gifts in time of need may god help you throu this world of trouble

I had bad luck with my soildier money I had a good home and went in pardnership with a friend. I thot but proved untrue so that is the way with this world a pencion agent stoped here last knight and I showed him your picture he was glad he knew you in a minit was surprised to think I had your pictur I told him I never expected to see you again. I would not take a goodeel for the picture I expect to see you sum time I know you are living. Mother remembers the hand righting of a letter that you wrote in the Hospital2 for me thankful to you for it I will right you more if you can read this.

so good buy for this time and in love and good wishes to you hope to see you.3

Manville Ellwood Wintersteen (1841–1917), a Pennsylvania native, was a Union solder during the U. S. Civil War. He served in the Sixth Ohio Cavalry, was wounded in the left shoulder, and, according to Whitman's "Notebook: September–October, 1863" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.), "came in frozen" from a "cav[alry] fight." According to Wintersteen's service records and his records from an Ohio National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, he suffered a gun shot wound in the left side of his chest in 1863, in Culpeper, Virginia, during the Battle of Culpeper Court House. In his hospital notes, Whitman termed him "a noble sized young fellow" (Charles I. Glicksberg, Walt Whitman and the Civil War [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933], 150), and referred to him briefly in Specimen Days as "Manvill Winterstein" (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1882–1883, 77). In 1875 Whitman wrote to Wintersteen, who, on March 1, replied: "I can not place you as I did not learn your name but havent forgot the kindness I recived while in the Arm[or]y Square Hospital." On March 10 of the same year, Wintersteen acknowledged receipt of Whitman's picture, and on August 8 described his not-so-prosperous circumstances. Whitman's letters to Wintersteen have not yet been located.


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

2. 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]

3. No signature is indicated in the transcription. [back]


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