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George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 30 September 1862

Dear Mother

We are still laying quietly at the place from which I dated my last letter. I thought when I wrote you last which was 5 or 6 days since that we should cross over into Virginia before now, but as we are comfortably situated, I think very likely we will remain here for some time. Everything now is quiet and it is quite a releif to be out of the sound of canon after hearing it almost daily, and sometimes nightly, for two or three weeks. I think the late rebel movement into Maryland has been a very unfortunate one for them, as they did not meet with anything like the encouragement from the Marylanders that they expected, and I believe that after the battle of Bull Run1 they firmly expected to invade Pennsylvania if not capture Washington and Baltimore, and now to be badly beaten twice, and driven back with such terrible loss, must be very discouraging and had it not been for bad management, cowardice, or treachery at Harpers Fery, I believe we could have bagged the most of their army.

We are now about 8 miles from Harpers Fery and are in the midst of Mountains, from which the view is very fine indeed. We have enough to eat and plenty of good cool spring water. We have been provided with shelter tents, which are made of two peices of light canvas about 6 ft square  each which button togather in the centre and make one tent to accomodate two men, they are very good on account of the heavy dews we have here, and for a shade, but as the two ends are open they are not much use in a storm. When we move the occupants of a tent each take half  roll it and tie it on their backs so we always have our houses with us and can make ourselves at home wherever we stop.

Mother the last letter I received from home is dated Sept 8th and I hope if you have not writen you will write as soon as you get this. The captain of our company2 has gone home on a twenty days furlough. I believe he intends to stop a few days in New York at the Astor House. Tryon3 our 1st Lieut that was in New York recruiting has returned,  he has a position as Aide on General Ferrero's Staff, so that I am in command of the company. A Corporal from our company, started for New York, on recruiting service this morning. I told him if he had a chance to call on you and send me word how you all are. His name is John Cambit and he was sent to report to Major LeGendre4 at his office on Broadway, where he can be found.

I expect there will shortly be some promotions made in the regt and I think I stand a good chance to be made a 1st Lieut. I think, after Cap gets back if everything remains quiet I shall try for a furlough to come home for a few days and see you all. I have stuck pretty close to buisness since I have been sogering, and the regt never went on a march or into a fight without my being on hand. (I see by the papers that Uncle Abe has issued a proclamation declaring the slaves free in all the States that are in rebellion on the first of next Jan. I dont know what effect it is going to have on the war, but one thing is certain, he has got to lick the south before he can free the niggers,)5 and unless he drives ahead and convinces the south, before the first of January, that we are bound to lick them, and it would be better for them to behave themselvs and keep their slaves, than to get licked and lose them, I dont think the proclamation will do much good.

Mother I have three months pay due me to day so dont deprive yourself of anything you need.

Direct my letters Sturgis Division, Ferreros Brigade 9th Army Corps  I often think that I can imagine just what you are all doing at home and ile bet now, that Mother is makeing pies. I think Mat is putting up shirt bosoms like the deuce so as to get through before dinner  I guess Sis is down stairs helping Mother mix the dough, Walt is up stairs writing, Jeff is down town at the Office, Jess is pealing Potatoes for dinner,  and Tobias has gone down cellar for a scuttle of coal,  Bunkum I guess is around somewhere looking for a good chance to go sogering.6

Well Mother take good care of yourself and dont get exciteded.

Much love to all G. W. Whitman

I think I shall write to Boss Rac7 in a day or two


  • 1. The second battle of Bull Run. [back]
  • 2. Morris Hazard, Jr. was captain of Company D until his discharge from the army on May 7, 1862. [back]
  • 3. Francis W. Tryon. [back]
  • 4. Charles W. LeGendre (1830-1899) was born in France and educated at the University of Paris. He helped recruit and later commanded the Fifty-First New York Volunteers. [back]
  • 5. Parentheses added by another hand, possibly Whitman's. [back]
  • 6. See George Washington Whitman's letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from June 9, 1862. [back]
  • 7. E. Rac was either the owner or foreman of a construction company building houses in Brooklyn. On at least one occasion, Rac contributed five dollars to Walt Whitman's hospital fund for wounded and sick Union soldiers. See Thomas Jefferson Whitman's letter to Walt Whitman, February 12, 1863. [back]
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