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George Washington Whitman to Walt Whitman, 12 February 1863

Dear Walt.

Well here we are at Newport News, and glad enough to get out of the mud, in which the grand Army of the Potomac has lived moved, and had its being, ever since we first joined it.1 We arived here yesterday, and are encamped in a good dry place, and I hear we are to have new Tents in a day or two, so I think we will soon be nicely fixed.

Walt if you have received the money from home, I wish you would send it on to me as soon as you can, as I think likely, that I will have a chance to go home (for 10 days) sometime next week. There is no Express Office here but it will come as far as Fortress Monroe which is 6 or 7 miles from here, and I will manage to go down there and get it. Probaly the best way would be for you to Enquire at the Express Office about what time, the money would reach Fortress Monroe, and write me, so that I will know when to go for it. I dont know, certain, that I can get, leave of absence, next week but I thnk my chances are pretty good,  there is nothing sure about these things, you know, untill a fellow gets the documents in his fist. Of course we know nothing at all, about what they brought us here for, but I rather think I was right in the surmise (in my last letter to you) about Burnsides2 organizeing a force for a seperate command. Anyhow I am glad to get out of the Potomac Army for it seems as if it would never be able to accomplish any thing,  And yet I believe it was as fine an Army (as far as their fighting qualities is concerned) as was ever seen.

Well Walt I believe that I have nothing more to say, and as I am quite buisy to day getting things in shape I will stop writing and go to work. Good bye

G. W. W.


  • 1. George is probably referring specifically to the "mud march" which began on January 21, 1863. After General Ambrose Everett Burnside's unsuccessful attempt to capture Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, he finally persuaded Lincoln to approve the Army's crossing the Rappahannock River in a second attempt to take possession of the city. It resulted, however, in nothing except a wretched expedition in which the troops floundered in "floods of rain and seas of sticky clay without making any progress in its purpose of attacking Lee" (J. G. Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction [1937], 315). [back]
  • 2. At the outbreak of the war, Ambrose Everett Burnside (1824–1881) organized the First Rhode Island Infantry. On January 25, 1863, Lincoln removed Burnside and put General Joseph Hooker (1814–1879) in command of the Army of the Potomac. [back]
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