Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Thomas Jefferson Whitman, 6 March 1863

Date: March 6, 1863

Whitman Archive ID: wwh.00005

Source: Whitman House, Camden. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 1:76-77. 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, Vanessa Steinroetter, and Alyssa Olson

. . . town, I see."1 I asked him if he meant George, and he said yes—he saw his name, Capt. George W. Whitman, U. S. A. in the newspaper list of hotel arrivals, at the Avenue House, two days before. I was quite dumb-foundered—went right away to the Avenue House, and searching the register, I found it was Capt. George J. Whitman, 3d Wisconsin Vol. So you see there are two Capt. George Whitmans in the Army. I was a great mind to ask to see the Wisconsin Whitman—but I didn't.

I go to the Hospitals about the same as ever—the last week or so. I have been most every night to the Capitol, which has been all lit up—I should never get tired of wandering through the Senate wing at night—it is the most costly, splendid and rich-painted place in its interminable mazes (I wander around and lose myself in them) of corridors and halls, that I ever dreamed of, or thought possible to construct—The great Halls of the H[ouse] of R[epresentatives] and the Senate, are wonderful and brilliant at night—they show best then, (in some respects.) They are probably the most beautiful rooms, ornamented and gilded style, in the world.

About what is called the Conscript Bill (an improper name) I hope and pray from the bottom of my heart that, if they (the Government) are indeed going on with the war, they will carry out that bill, and enrol every man in the land—I would like to see the people embodied en-masse—I am very sure I shall see that my name is in its place on the lists, and my body in the ranks, if they do it that way—for that will be something like our nation getting itself up in shape. The Bill however was really meant as a warning to Louis Napoleon, or any other foreign meddler. With my office-hunting, no special result yet. I cannot give up my Hospitals yet. I never before had my feelings so thoroughly and (so far) permanently absorbed, to the very roots, as by these huge swarms of dear, wounded, sick, dying boys—I get very much attached to some of them, and many of them have come to depend on seeing me, and having me sit by them a few minutes, as if for their lives.

Jeff, I am very fat and hearty—I have found friends here—I met a lady in the street day before yesterday that was so much like Mat I could hardly keep from speaking to her. I guess she wondered what I stood and looked, and looked, at her so long for. She drest like Mat too, and was . . .


1. At one time there were at Camden two additional pages which presumably belonged to this letter; unfortunately, no transcription was made. The pages reproduced here do not appear to be part of the letter from January 16, 1863 , which is also incomplete. In a letter from March 9, 1863, Jeff noted receipt of "a long letter from you Saturday" (which would have been March 7, 1863). But the principal argument for the date of March 6 is that on March 3, 1863, Jeff asked his brother: "What are they going to do to reinforce the army, will they have to enforce the conscript bill." [back]


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