Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William E. Vandemark to Walt Whitman, 17 August 1863

Date: August 17, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00129

Source: Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin. 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), 204-205. 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, Joshua Ware, Tim Jackson, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter

Dear friend witman

I1 receive your letter [This letter is currently lost] yesterday and was glad to heer from yo and yo were en Joying good helth as for me i am not well my wound gans very slow the warm wether chafed me all to peces and now with all the rest i have got a large boil on my left knee my famly is well my little girl has ben quite sick but is well agen—

the wether has ben very warm the hotest that i ever saw but yester-day it rained and to day it is cold enuf her to hafore[?] me thare was a funeral here an infant 3 weeks old but i could not tend the funeral—

a nabor man of mine by the name of Felter Calder2 enlisted in the same ridgement that i did desurted rite after the fite at Gitiesburg and came horn and kep hid 3 weeks thare is 30 dollars reward on him i think they had or to hang him my furlow runs out next thursday the 20 but I hante able to come back i have riten to docter blis to have it extended i wish that yo would see him and tel him how it is if i donte heer from him i will come back Just as soon as i am able and let me know what he says about the exstention I will close now good by from a friend and well wishes


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Whitman may have written a letter to Vandemark's sister Sarah in Accord, New York (Edward F. Grier, ed., Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts, [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 2:644).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]

2. Felter Kelder, a private in Company C, returned to the 120th New York and was wounded in action at Boydton Plank Road, Virginia, on October 27, 1864. [back]


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