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George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 20 October 1862

Dear Mother

Everything is quiet on the Potomac, and we are still encamped here in Md. I am well and comfortable with the exception of an attack of homesickness which I cant seem to shake off.

Mother why the deuce dont some of you write to a fellow,  Your Past letter is dated the 5th and I have written since then,  the last letter I wrote, filled 8 or 9 pages, did you get it.

I want very much to know when you have heard from Hann. and if she has recovered from her sickness and is comeing home soon, and Mary, do you ever hear from her. And Mother I want to hear from all of you at home, have you got a good stove, and plenty of coal, and how about buckwheat cakes and sich. Matt and Sis, I hope are right Smart, and can you fly around, Mamy as lively as when I left home.

Where in thunder does all the troops go, that the papers say are leaving New York, and the other Citys every day. Why dont they send em, out to the front, and let us old veterans come home, and see our Mammies. We ought to have force enough now, to go right ahead and balsmather the seceshers. I dont like the idea of fighting the same ground over three or four times but I supose its all right. The nights here are cool, but the days are splendid,  us officers have been furnished with wall tents and as we have plenty of blankets we get along very well, but the men are not as well provided for. I am still in command of our company as Capt Francis1 has not returned yet, although his time was up two days ago. We were ordered, one day last week, to be ready to move at five minutes notice, and as we had heard artillery fireing all the morning, we thought, we was in for annother fight, but it turned out to be some of our folks out on a reconnoissance somewhere near Charlestown Va, but as they did not find the Rebels in very strong force, we were not sent over, and I hardly think, from present appearences that we will leave here for some days yet. I wonder whats the reason they dont pay us off. Uncle Sam aint busted up is he,  it wouldent be much wonnder if he did though for he is swindled right smart, I recon. Well Mamy its getting cold so I will stop and go to bed. Maby you think I aint got no bed, but I have, and a bedstead too, made with four croched sticks drove in the ground, thus and my bed is a genuine corn husk Mattress which I think is a good deal healthier than feathers.2

Good Night Mother, and much love to all. write as soon as you get this,

Lieut G. W. Whitman Co. D  
 51st Regt N.Y. Vols. Ferreros  
 Brigade, Sturgis Division,  
 9th Army Corps, Reasan Valley Md


  • 1. Henry W. Francis of Buffalo, New York, was promoted to the rank of captain to replace Hazard when the latter left military service. After living with George Whitman's regiment for a time after the battle of Fredericksburg, Walt Whitman made the following comment in a letter to his mother from December 29, 1862: "Capt. Francis is not a man I could like much—I had very little to say to him." [back]
  • 2. The sketch of the bedstead is reproduced after a tracing from the letter somewhat reduced. [back]
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