Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: William H. McFarland to Walt Whitman, 11 November 1863

Date: November 11, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00135

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), 157-158. 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, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter

Mr Whitman Dear Sir

It is with shame that I1 sit down to write you a few lines. I have neglected it so long I suppose you thought I had quit forgotten you, but I can asure you my Dear friend such is not the case. I have thought of you verry often. One reason that I have not writen before is I have been shifting about so much since I have been home that if I did write you I could scearcely tell where to have you direct to but now I believe I have got settled down for the winter. Samuel M Dyer2 that got a furlough at the same time I got mine is hear. I spoke to him about writing to you. he felt just as I did about [it]. it was so long since we had promissed to write that he felt ashamed to but I hop you will pardon our neglect, and if it complys with your will I should be very happy to keep up a coraspandenc

Now I will try and give you an account of my journy home Samuel M Dyer and myself started from Washington on the 28th day of July 3 oclock pm arrive in Baltimore about 5 pm there we seperated S.M. Dyer took the 9 pm train for Harrisburg I stayed in Baltimore until Thursday evening then took the 9 oclock train for Harrisburg arived at H. about 2 oclock the next morning changed cars there fore Pittsburg arrived there about noon I went to the Soldiers home and got my dinner and a verry good dinner it was to. I then took the 1-40 pm train I did not chang cars again until I got to Chicago Friday evening I got into a sleeping car at Crestline Ohio, arived at Chicago Saterday morning at 8-30. I then thought I would stop there and look up a cousin that I thought lived there, but I found he had left here about two months before that so in the evening I took the cars again and the next morning I arrived at my uncles at McFarland Station I stayd there two weeks, then started for another part to a place called Raymond. there I had a good time. last Friday I came and reported at this Hospital. I think I shall stay here all winter

Our elections have gone on finely in this state it always has gon Democratic until this fall it has gone it is estimated 15,000 Majority for the Union that is the home vote the copperheads are completely played out

My Regiment (the 5th Wis) cast 450 vots all Republican but 1 solitary one. I rather guess that one feels lonesome.

I will now close hoping to hear from you soon I remain Your Friend


1. William Hugh McFarland, a native of England, was orphaned and raised by his uncle and namesake, who also gave his name to a town in Wisconsin that he settled. McFarland enlisted in Company B of the 5th Wisconsin on May 10, 1861. On May 3, 1863, near Bank's Ford after the Second Battle of Fredericksburg, he was shot in the left leg and suffered its amputation by enemy surgeons the next day—his nineteenth birthday. He was admitted to Armory Square on June 13 and sent home July 28. [back]

2. Samuel M. Dyer, from Company I of the 5th Wisconsin, like William H. McFarland, was listed as missing on May 4, 1863. He was apparently wounded and sent to Armory Square along with McFarland. [back]


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