Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Lewis K. Brown to Walt Whitman, 5 November 1863

Date: November 5, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00132

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), 120-121. 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 Walter

As I1 am not a going out to day I thought that my time could not be better imployed than by writing to you. So hear goes,—First I must tell you about the patients hear. I was up to Ward A, this morning to see No. 40, he is better than he was when you went away, and Harry, the Wardmaster, thinks that he will get well—Concerning the patients in Ward C, they are all getting better. — I was asking Miss Platt2 how your patients wer in the ward and she told me that they wer better—that man with the bad leg is mending his wound is quite painful yet but is getting along as well as you could expect. the man in the other wards are mending—thear has bin no wounded brought in since you left—things in this ward have chainged some since you left. Miss Lowell3 has got back & is getting things put to rites, as she thinks, you know that she has bin on a visit to N.York. J. A. Tabor has gon to his Regt. he went on Monday—I guess it was rather unexpected to him. Cuningham is about the saim as he was when you left him. I cannot see any change. since Tabor has gon Billy Clements (that little fellow that was in this ward) has been dresser. he does verry well—all of the rest of the patients in theis Ward are mending—all things are a going on in the same old stile hear— I received a letter from T. P. Sawyer to day he is well. he sayes that they have bin on the move so that he could not answer my letter before. his Regt is now near Bealtons Station, a building railroad. he did not mention any thing about your letter—he is a going to try to get a pass to come up hear this winter—

Conserning my self I am about old fassion. my leg mends slowly (about as it was when you wer hear) I have bin out in the city on Monday & Tuesday, both days I was at the relief associations, to try to get a shirt or two—yesterday I got a order from the Chaplain yesterday to get two shirts from the Christian Commission, when I went up and showed them the order they told me that they had non—than I went into their store room and thear was some nice shirts thear. 1 told them that they wer just the kind that I wanted—but they told me that they were layed out for distributation amongst the diferant camps through the city. so I got non of them, & I was mad enough to, after walking up thear three times and than get nothing, (the Relief association may be a verry nice thing, but I cant see it, for I never get any thing from them yet—you have give me more than all of the rest put together. . so you are the relief association that I (as well as all the rest of the boys) like best.


1. Lewis Kirke Brown (1843–1926) was wounded in the left leg near Rappahannock Station on August 19, 1862, and lay where he fell for four days. Eventually he was transferred to Armory Square Hospital, where Whitman met him, probably in February 1863. In a diary in the Library of Congress, Whitman described Brown on February 19, 1863, as "a most affectionate fellow, very fond of having me come and sit by him." Because the wound did not heal, the leg was amputated on January 5, 1864. Whitman was present and described the operation in a diary (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #103). Brown was mustered out in August 1864, and was employed in the Provost General's office in September; see Whitman's September 11, 1864. The following September he became a clerk in the Treasury Department, and was appointed Chief of the Paymaster's Division in 1880, a post which he held until his retirement in 1915. (This material draws upon a memorandum which was prepared by Brown's family and is now held in the Library of Congress.) [back]

2. Anna Platt worked in Ward C of Armory Square Hospital from February 6, 1863, until the end of the war. Platt's time at Armory Square is described in detail by fellow nurse Amanda Akin Stearns in The Lady Nurse of Ward E (New York: The Baker & Taylor Company, 1909). According to her pension records submitted to Congress in 1891, Platt suffered "a severe attack of typhoid and brain fever," while working at Armory Square, "from the effects of which she has never fully recovered." [back]

3. Anna Lowell, a nurse in Armory Square Hospital, was the niece of poet and editor James Russell Lowell. [back]


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