Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Andrew J. Liebenau to Walt Whitman, 20 February 1864

Date: February 20, 1864

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00141

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), 156. 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, Vanessa Steinroetter, Sarah Synovec, Eric Conrad, Kathryn Kruger, and Nick Krauter

Friend Walt,

I1 have been setting at the foot of what I call my bed idoly speculating, on the past, and thinking of many men I have met and called them Friends how often the word Friend, is missplace, but you have told me you were my Friend and called me your young Friend, I thank you for that priveledge from the inmost recess of my heart as I know you can appreciate a sincere Friend, and I will try to be that to you. I gave Father one of your ambrotypes when I was at home, he was very much pleased with it, and reconised it at once. My little Wife exclaimes, he looks like a very inteligent and kind hearted Old Gentleman, when I gave her the presents you sent her, she said tell him Andy when you see him that although his gifts are small and he is an entire stranger to me I appreciate them very much, as you say he is a warm and good Friend of yours I respect all of your sincere and good Friends, Walt, I stopped at your residence when passing through Washington enroute to join my Regiment, and was told that you had gone on a visit to the Army, thinking that you had thought, that I had neglected to call upon you as I promised, I thought you might have gone out to visit me at my camp, expecting to meet you there I was sorrowfully disapointed on my arrival there to find that my conjectures were without foundation. Walt, I would invite you to visite me here at Camp but I am told that I will be sent home in a few days with the reenlisted men, to remain there for the term of Thirtyfive days, if it proves to be the truth I will stop and try to persuade you to go on to New York with me, and visit my little Wife and my home, to enjoy a few of your leisure hours cheerfully. I will now conclude Walt, as it is quite late, asking you to please excuse this scratch, as I have a very sharp pointed pen and my ink is frozen. I will now bid adieu,

Remaining Your Affectionate Friend,
Lieut. Commanding Co 1, 1st Regt Excelsior Brigade, 2nd Division, 3rd Corps, Army of the Potomac


1. Andrew J. Liebenau enlisted as a private in Company F, 70th New York Infantry, on 22 August 1862. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant of Company I on February 5, 1863. In his notebook, Whitman described Liebenau as "Lieut. A J Liebenan 70th NY Volunteers 1st Excelsior brigade res NY 91 west 41st st" (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts, ed. Edward F. Grier [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 1:447–448). He was promoted to full captain in the 25th New York Cavalry on 1 Jul 1864. [back]


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