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George Washington Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 7 September 1863

Dear Mother.

Your letter of August 30th with the $10 came all right, and I am sory I put you to the trouble of going to the bank, as we were paid last night, for the Months of July & August and of course I have more money than I know what to do with. Mother I feel quite worried about Andrew, and if his being in the Country benifits his disease, I hope you will send him money (out of what I send you) enough to let him stay there untill he recovers his voice, and his throat gets all right. I should think it would not be very expensive for him to board there, for I suppose of course, he boards at a private house, as I should think he would be much better off, there than at a Hotel. If I was he, I would go to some farmers house where I could have everything comfortable and good. I am very glad Mother, to hear that your health is good, and I hope that you will take things easy and not overwork yourself, and Mother above all things, dont wory and frett yourself, but let things take their course. Hannah you say, has not written to you very lately but I am in hopes that we will soon hear that she is entirely well. Mattie and the babies I am glad to hear, are well and hearty,  Jess you say has not been very well but I hope he is better now. I last wrote you, from Covington where we were haveing first rate easy times and fine liveing. We left there, August 26th marched down to the Depot and took the Cars for this place. We are about 100 miles from Covington and 3 from the village of Nicholasville  We are right among the farmers, so of course we are all right on the grub question, pedlars every day bring in fruit,vegetables, Eggs and all that kind of thing. We have been expecting orders to march every day, and this morning we were ordered to be ready to move at any moment, with 3 days rations in Haversacks, but a few minutes ago the orders to be ready, were countermanded for some reason or another, (I think likely that word has come from Burnside that he is not likely to meet with much resistance at Knoxville)2  It seemed to be the general opinion that we were going down to East Tennessee to reinforce Burnside,  It is some 200 miles from here to where Burnside is, and the men and Officers of our Brigade, dont like the idea of going there much, but as for myself, if it wasent for being so far away from any place where a fellow could get the papers, or hear from home, I think I would as leave go down there as not, although our Regt aint fit to go anywhere, or for any kind of service. My morning report this morning (and for the last 8 days has been the same) was I—Capt, 2 Sergts 2 Corpls, 1 drummer, and 3 privates for duty, and 7 privates Sick in Hospitals,  rather a small company aint it. Capt. Sims3 and two Lieuts that were appointed to go on after conscripts, havent left the Regt. yet, so whether we will get any conscripts or not I dont know. I suppose the draft must be through with in New York & Brooklyn by this time, I wonder how many of my aquaintences have been fortunate enough to draw prizes in Uncle Sams Lottery. I do hope that Jeff has escaped, but I know quite a number that I should be pleased to hear, would have to shoulder a musket, and take their chances with the rest of us. Jeff if you know of any one (that has been drafted) that is anxious to extinguish4 themselvs, tell them to try and get in Co K and if they do right smart, they'l soon get to be Corporels, or something, and get the splendid Salary of $13 a month. Poor devils I fear theyl have rather a hard time in this Regt, for the troops that came out before the big bountys were given, seem to think themselvs a great deal better than the big bounty men (as they call them.)5 Well Mother, what do you all think, of things now,  havent we given the rebs some pretty hard knocks lately, and dont you think we can almost begin to see daylight. Jeff write a fellow a letter once in a while and let me know what your oppinion is of matters and things,  it seems to me if Rosencrans,6 and Burnside are successful, it will be another fine Stroke for our side, and Gillmore7 to at Charleston seems to be getting along well, but its my opinion thers considerable heavy work to be done before we get Charleston, but still I think its bound to come in time and if its only done, and well done, we can afford to wait annother Month or two. I suppose Walt thinks strange of my not writing to him, but as you send my letters around, writing to one is just as good as writing to each one seperately,  You have no idea how much writing I have had to do since we came back from Mississippi  our accounts got very much behind while we were down there and since we came back I have been buisy straitening them out. The Authorities at Washington, are getting very strickt, and we have to make lots of reports, of Clothing, Ordnance, and one thing and another, but I am getting things in pretty good shape, and am very glad to see the head devils at Washington are paying a little attention to their business, for Uncle Sam has been terribly robbed heretofore. Mother I will send you, (by Express) probaly tomorrow $190 or 185 dollars, and remember, I dont want you to be afraid to use it for anything you want.8 I have just heard that Capt Sims starts for New York tomorrow to bring on conscripts, probaly Jeff will see him somewhere about town.

Good bye for this time G W Whitman

Mother if you have not sent the second 10 dollars, of course you wont send it but if its on the way before you get this, its all right, let me hear from you as soon as you receive the money.


  • 1. In August 1863 General Burnside had traveled over the Cumberland Mountains into East Tennessee with 18,000 men, reaching Knoxville, Tennessee, on September 3. He left the Ninth Army scattered in various parts of Kentucky in order for it to have time to recuperate from the Vicksburg campaign. The Fifty-First Regiment of New York Volunteers was assigned to Nicholasville, Kentucky. [back]
  • 2. See George Washington Whitman's letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from February 9, 1862. Burnside had led the Army of the Ohio to Knoxville in order to draw General Longstreet's army farther away from General Bragg's forces, which were enamped at Chattanooga. [back]
  • 3. See George Washington Whitman's letter to Walt Whitman from January 13, 1863, and February 1, 1863. [back]
  • 4. With Whitman's irregular spelling, it is difficult to determine whether he is punning. [back]
  • 5. In the latter part of 1863 the federal bounty for three-year volunteers was raised from $100 to $300. Even a draftee was eligible for it if he chose to serve three years in a volunteer regiment instead of fighting in the ordinary militia for a term of nine months. [back]
  • 6. See George Washington Whitman's letter to Thomas Jefferson Whitman from January 8, 1863. William Starke Rosecrans advanced on General Bragg's army at Chattanooga. By September 9, 1863, he had occupied that city and Bragg's forces had removed to Chickamauga. [back]
  • 7. General Quincy Adams Gillmore (1828–1888) was at the time engaged in series of unsuccessful siege operations against Charleston, South Carolina. [back]
  • 8. The word need appears in the letter as crossed out, and want is written above it. [back]
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