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Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 22 September 1863

Dear brother Walt,

The enclosed $25 is from my old friend Joseph P. Davis1 who is Engineering down in Peru. Although he is far away yet he does not forget home. I have written him in some of my letters what you were doing, with short extracts from your letters.

Well Walt it looks as if we had met rather a bad reverse in the West. If Rosecrans2 is whipped I should hardly think that the United States was large enough to contain the infernal quacks that administer the military arm of our government. I suppose their is at least 30 000 men nibbling around in Kansas and other parts west. Matters that would tumble of their own weight if the army in front of Rosecrans was thouroughly whipped. Tis awful to think of. I mailed you a letter from George a few days since, did you get it.

Mother is abt the same as usual. I think she fails somewhat. I suppose not more than we must expect however. Mattie and the babies are quite well. Hattie is getting to be quite a girl, and the little one is also getting to be quite a youngster. Jess is abt the same, he is not well. He needs good living more than anything I think. Andrew I suppose Mother wrote you about  I think that it is unfortunate that he should be so humbuged by the "Italian Dr."3 but I suppose he would not otherwise have tried to get well at all  The Dr. requirs him to pay $180 in 3 installments in advance. He has paid $46 and is now living his 15 days at the "Foriegn Dr's" as a prepairing course, then he is to take certain baths. The whole thing in my opinion is one of the biggest of humbugs. However if Andrew believs in it I suppose it is best to bolster him up in his beliefs.

I shall write you again [in] a few days sending you some more money. till then good bye

affectionately yours Thomas J. Whitman


  • 1. Joseph Phineas Davis (1837–1917) took a degree in civil engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1856 and then helped build the Brooklyn Water Works until 1861. He was a topographical engineer in Peru from 1861 to 1865, after which he returned to Brooklyn. A lifelong friend of Jeff Whitman's, he became city engineer of Boston (1871–80) and completed his distinguished career as chief engineer of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (1880–1908). For his work with Jeff in St. Louis, see Thomas Jefferson Whitman's letters to Walt Whitman from May 23, 1867, January 21, 1869, and March 25, 1869. [back]
  • 2. Major General William Stacke Rosecrans (1819–1898) performed admirably in the Chattanooga campaign, but his tactical blunders at Chickamauga (September 1863) were disastrous. He was soon relieved of command on the advice of General Grant and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. [back]
  • 3. Although Jeff repeatedly complained about this doctor (see Jeff's letter to Walt from October 15, 1863) George and Walt Whitman were willing to let Andrew experiment with him. On October 16, 1863, George wrote Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, "I had a letter from Walt, dated Sept. 28th  he said that Andrew was considerable better and was Doctoring with a celabrated Italian Doctor in Court St. I dont have much faith in them new fangled foreign Doctors, but if Andrew is realy so much better, it is good encouragment to keep on and give him a fair trial" (Jerome M. Loving, ed., Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman [Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975], 107). Near the end of October Andrew changed to Dr. John H. Brodie who lived on Myrtle Avenue (Louisa Van Velsor Whitman to Walt Whitman, October 30 [?], 1863 [Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library]). [back]
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