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George Washington Whitman to Walt Whitman, 13 January 1863

Dear Brother.

We have just come off Picket,  everything along the river and in the camp is just the same as when you left,1  I am still liveing in Capt Francis's2 tent as I have not been able to get one of my own. I have been expecting every day that we would get orders to move our camp, where we could get wood and water, without going as far for it, as we have to here. Once we had orders to be ready to move the next morning but before morning came, the orders were countermanded,

I have had Two letters from you since you left, and Two from home and this morning I got one from Heyde. All at home seems to be going on well, Jeff writes strong for me to resign and come home3  Heyde writes that Hannah is quite sick and almost helpless,  Poor Han I am afraid she has a hard life,  as for Heyde, he is certainly a fool, and I think a scoundrell. He writes me a great deal of stuff about Han  and among other devilish lies he says that he is told that on Han's last visit home, Mother told her She must never turn her thoughts there for a home again. The whole tenor of his letter shows that he wants to get rid of her, and I am sure she must be liveing in a perfect Hell. He says that while he was gone away she was taken worse and had to depend on the Neighbors to take care of her, and that some aquaintance of hers was about writing to her friends, to let them know how she was situated,  Walt you or Jeff must certainly go on there and see how things are, and make some arangements for bringing her home. If you can go  write on to mother and have her send you some money and dont fail to attend to it immediately as I feel quite worried about Han.

I received a Brooklyn Eagle yesterday with your letter published,4  I send you 50 cts which I wish you to buy Postage stamps with, and send them to me as soon as conveinent, as we cant buy any here. Capt Sims and all the rest are well and hearty. I got a letter from boss Rac5 a few days since.

Let me hear from you as soon as you get this and tell me what you propose to do in regard to Han. I will write again soon.

G. W. W.


  • 1. See George Washington Whitman's letter to Thomas Jefferson Whitman from January 8, 1863. [back]
  • 2. Henry W. Francis, also of Buffalo, New York, was promoted to the rank of captain to replace Hazard when the latter left military service. After living with George's regiment for a time after the battle of Fredericksburg, Walt Whitman made the following comment in a letter to his mother: "Capt. Francis is not a man I could like much—I had very little to say to him." Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence (New York: New York University Press, 1961-69), 1:60. [back]
  • 3. See George Washington Whitman's letter to Thomas Jefferson Whitman from January 8, 1863. [back]
  • 4. "Our Brooklyn Boys in the War," Brooklyn Daily Eagle for January 5, 1863, a factual report of the activities of Brooklyn soldiers, especially Captain Samuel H. Sims, who later died before Petersburg on July 30, 1864 (see Thomas Jefferson Whitman's letter to Walt Whitman from May 4, 1865). [back]
  • 5. 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 to Walt Whitman, February 12, 1863. [back]
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