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Reuben Farwell to Walt Whitman, 7 November 1864

Dear Uncle

I1 received you letter of Oct 7th & here I am about to write you a reply.

Times here have been rather busy Together with the Mass meetings & a Bridial Tour that lasted a week. This was not any of my own luck but to accompany the newly married set was all I was on the Company. I have received only this letter Oct 7th & one writen to My Father of which both reached me the same mail. One came to me from the Regiment that one I answered & a reply came to me. I intend to Answer all of your Kind letters. But this one I have neglected on account of my being a way from home so long. My letter to you at the time I was Poisoned has has not affected me any that time I looked the whole City of Washington over to find you—but I looked in vain

My foot is quite well so much so that one can not tell of my being hit there. Shortly after I came to the city again to be Mounted on a Horse & we layed in the Defences of Washington the time the Rebels came to attack the City. Then I went up the Shanandoah Valley untill the 24 day of August where I was Discharged. There was some very heavy fighting up there under Phil Sheridan2 & perhaps he has warmed the Johnnys since then. This Charles Davis I have not heard from since he left for home on a Furlough3. Wether he came back or not I can not tell

Dear Uncle you gave me one of your Photographs & I shall always carry it with me in Remembrance of a Kind Friend & one who I have thought a good deal off.

I hope that you will over look this neglect of mine in not writing you before this. This is rather bad writing any how & I am a fraid you will bother yourself in reading what I have scribbled. My health is very good at present Also the same I wish to you My best wishes gose with this to you

Yours very Respectfully


  • 1. "Little Mitch," or Reuben Farwell, served with the Michigan Cavalry during the war and met Whitman in Armory Square Hospital early in 1864, and upon his release from the hospital he corresponded with him. After Farwell received his discharge on August 24, 1864, he returned to his home in Plymouth, Michigan. Evidently the correspondence was renewed when Whitman sent a post card on February 5, 1875. On March 5, 1875, Farwell, who owned a farm in Michigan, wrote: "Walt my dear old Friend how I would like to grasp your hand and give you a kiss as I did in the days of yore. what a satisfaction it would be to me." In Farwell's last letter, on August 16, 1875, he said that he was planning to leave shortly for California. Eleven letters from Farwell are in the Trent Collection at Duke University. He is also mentioned in Whitman's Memoranda During War; Richard Maurice Bucke, ed., The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman [New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1902], 4:134. The year is confirmed by the reference to Farwell's letter of March 5, 1875 (Trent Collection). (For Farwell's correspondence with Whitman see April 30, 1864, May 5, 1864, May 10, 1864, June 8, 1864, and June 16, 1864.) [back]
  • 2. Phil Sheridan was appointed by Ulysses S. Grant to lead the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac. [back]
  • 3. Whitman records the following information about Davis in his notebook: "bed 49 Ward E Jan 31st Charles Davis co H, 1st Mich Cavalry pretty low with Diarrhea sister Miss Eliza Davis Sand Beach Huron Co Mich" (Edward F. Grier, ed., Notes and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1961–84], 2:670). [back]
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