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Thomas Jefferson Whitman to Walt Whitman, 14 May 1865

Dear brother Walt

I received your letter1 in due time. I am indeed glad to hear that you are so well and get along so nicely—We are all well as usual—and time slides along as usual—a day or two ago I to[ok] Mat and Hattie out on the line for a ride—very pleasant—and Mother said the little one was as good as she could be—indeed I think Mother rather likes to have her all to herself—When you come on again we must certainly take a ride or two out—The country looks splendid—everything is growing as finely as can be

We had a letter from George a few days ago—Mother tells me that George is wanting to get a position as Captain in the regular Army—I have though[t] considerably about it and have made up my mind if we all go to work it could be done quite easy2—Jule Mason3 was at my house yesterday and I had a long talk with him about it—he said that just now there was no way—as the regulations only admitted officers that had graduated at some military school—but said that undoubtedly that in a very short time that objection would be removed—he said that he could help us in the matter a good deal and would do all in his power with pleasure—he said he (George) ought to go about it at once by getting a good firstclass endorsement from the officers he had served under—all that he could—and then bring what ever other influence he could on the Sec of War and Gen Grant—He said in his duties he was brought sometimes (quite often) in such intercourse with Gen Grant that he could (and it would come in good too—not far-fetched) speak a recommendation for George  I spoke with Mr Lane4 and he said that he knew very intimately the new senator from California (Bidwell)5 and that he was certain he could get him to give his influence to the thing and would willingly do anything in his power—And then there is John Swinton6 I am sure he would help—perhaps by writing a letter to Stanton7—and we ourselves could get Congress man Bergen8 to aid the matter—thinking it all over I am sure that if the restriction prescribing those not educated in a military school is removed George can get the same position in the regular army that he now has—but for God-sake dont let him think of enlisting in the army with the expectation of being promoted  that is too dangerous—Will you give the matter some attention and see how the matter stands—Mason is stationed in Washingt[on]  hunt him up and talk the matter over—he can and will help us if we will only make the effort

I am going to try all in my power to come on to Washington at the time of the review9—if I can possibly leave I shall come—I want very much to see something that will make me remember the war—

Mother received a letter from you Friday10—I heard that Worthen11 had sent a letter to you containing $25. did you get it? When you see George give my love to him—talk over the matter that I have written abt. and see what he thinks of it. All send their love

Affectionately Jeff


  • 1. Whitman's letter from around May 13, 1865, is not extant. [back]
  • 2. In his final months in the army George attempted, without success, to become a career officer (Jerome M. Loving, ed., Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman [Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975], 136). [back]
  • 3. See Jeff Whitman's letter to Walt from February 10, 1863. [back]
  • 4. See Jeff Whitman's letter to Walt from January 13, 1863. [back]
  • 5. John Bidwell (1819–1900), a representative from California, was elected as a Unionist to the Thirty-ninth Congress (March 4, 1865 to March 3, 1867). Earlier in his extraordinary life Bidwell had crossed the Rockies and Sierras with the first overland expedition (1841). In California he became the first man to discover gold in the Feather River, the most noted agriculturalist in the state, one of the early regents of the university, and an unsuccessful candidate for governor. In 1890, he was the Prohibition party candidate for president of the United States. Moses Lane and Jeff might have been especially interested in Bidwell because he was one of the early proponents of a transcontinental railroad. [back]
  • 6. See Jeff's letter to Walt from January 31, 1865. [back]
  • 7. Edwin McMasters Stanton (1814–69) was secretary of war from 1862 to 1868. [back]
  • 8. In the Brooklyn Daily Advertiser, June 1, 1850, Whitman had applauded Teunis G. Bergen for various services in the New York legislature and for being "a very Cerberus in his watch over the Treasury" (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 1:37, n. 1). Jeff worked with the congressman's son, Van Brunt Bergen, at the Brooklyn Water Works (see Jeff's letter to Walt from December 21, 1866. [back]
  • 9. The Grand Review of the Union armies. See Jeff's letter to Walt from May 4, 1865. [back]
  • 10. Whitman's letter of about May 11, 1865, is not extant. [back]
  • 11. See Jeff's letter to Walt from December 15, 1863. [back]
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