Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Manville Wintersteen to Walt Whitman, 8 August 1875

Date: August 8, 1875

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00401

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), 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, Amanda J. Axley, Marie Ernster, and Stephanie Blalock

Hampden, Ohio,
August 8, 1875

Kind sur Uncl

I recived your welcom and expecd letter1 was glad to here from you I neglect wrighting for I am not much on a right but I must wright to you Moather2 ses I aught to right to one that was a friend in time of need I am glad to know that you are living I should like to see you very much if I could I would but traviling cost money and I did not get much from where I am I supose their is not much call for help in Campdin I get 4 dollers per month pencion but every little helps in hard times very plesent weather and crops look well here since the rain we had last weak I am working by the month since I came home from York St

I can come home very Sunday and as I looked at your pictur I sed I must wright eny how if ever so poor a letter but you will excuse from a friend though many miles away this world is ful of trouble and we and we all have our share sum is blest with health and wealth while others . . . want3 but I am glad to get along and be most well

I can allways find work wright again

My love to you and good wishes,
Yours truly4

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 is not extant. [back]

2. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]

3. Charley Shively's ellipses seem to indicate that there are words missing at this point in the letter.  [back]

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


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