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Walt Whitman to Anson Ryder, Jr., 14 December 1866

Dear boy & comrade,1

I rec'd your letter of the 9th2—& am real glad to hear from you, & that you are well & in good spirits, as appears by your letter. You speak how much you would like to see me, & we could be together a while. I too, dear friend, would be so glad if we were near each other where we could have each other's company often.

I am still working here in the same office—We have lately a new Attorney General3—One of the first things he did was to promote me!—Sensible man, wasn't he?—May the Lord reward him. I have been absent on leave the past summer two months—went to New York—spent most of the time with my mother, in Brooklyn—I have been well since I last wrote to you, mostly—only the last six weeks have had rather a bad time with neuralgia—but am getting over it.

Things with friend Hiram Frazee4 have gone poorly. He went from Harewood hospital here, to Brooklyn, to the City Hospital there—he had a terrific operation there that nearly cost him his life, & after all did no good—it was a pay hospital, & his stay in it cost him $300—The last I heard of Frazee was about two months ago—he was then home—his address is Hiram W. Frazee, Camden, Oneida Co. New York—he wrote me, & said he was as comfortable as one in his condition could be—he spoke about you in his letter, & wanted much to know about you—

Wood I have not heard from.

Here in Washington Congress is in session, & rather lively times—I suppose you see the acc'ts in the papers.

Dear Comrade, you don't give me the particulars what you are doing, &c. you must, when you write again—you speak of not being overburdened with green backs, & profits &c.—Well, boy, one can bear that, if one only keeps hearty & fat & in good spirits, as I guess you are.

Well, I keep about as stout as ever, and my face red & great beard just the same as when I used to see you—I eat my rations every time, too—I am writing this in the office by a big window with a splendid view of the Potomac & Arlington Heights—Well I find I must close—I send my love to you, darling boy, & I want you always to keep me posted wherever you go, dear Comrade.

Walt Whitman


  • 1. Anson Ryder, Jr., a soldier, had apparently left Armory Square Hospital and returned to his family at Cedar Lake, New York, accompanied by another injured soldier named Wood (probably Calvin B. Wood; see Edward F. Grier, ed., Notes and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1961–1984], 6:673). [back]
  • 2. Ryder's letter of December 9 is apparently lost. [back]
  • 3. Henry Stanbery (1803–1881) was appointed Attorney General on July 23, 1866, and served until March 12, 1868, when he resigned to serve as President Johnson's chief counsel in the impeachment proceedings. When, at the conclusion of the trial, Johnson renominated Stanbery, the Senate refused to confirm him. Failing eyesight—to which Whitman referred in letters from November 13, 1866, and November 20, 1866—forced Stanbery to retire from legal practice in 1878. Speaking to Horace Traubel in 1888, Whitman affirmed his fondness for Stanbery (Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Friday, Novmeber 23, 1888). [back]
  • 4. Sergeant Hiram W. Frazee, Second New York Artillery, was wounded in "one of the last battles near Petersburg" (Richard Maurice Bucke, ed., The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman [New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1902], 6:236). [back]
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