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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 2 February 1864

Dearest Mother,

I am writing this by the side of the young man you asked about, Lewis Brown,1 in Armory Square hospital—He is now getting along very well indeed—The amputation is healing up good, & he does not suffer any thing like as much as he did. I see him every day. We have had real hot weather here, & for the last three days wet & rainy—it is more like June than February—

Mother, I wrote to Han, last Saturday—she must have got it yesterday—I have not heard any thing from home since a week ago, (your last letter)—I suppose you got a letter from me Saturday last—I am well as usual—there has been several hundred sick soldiers brought in here yesterday—

I have been around among them to-day all day—it is enough to make one heart-sick, the old times over again—they are many of them mere wrecks, though young men—(sickness is worse in some respects than wounds)—one boy2 about 16, from Portland, Maine, only came from home a month ago, a recruit, he is here now, very sick & downhearted, poor child, he is a real country boy, I think has consumption—he was only a week with his reg't—I sat with him a long time—I saw [it] did him great good—I have been feeding some their dinners—it makes me feel quite proud, I find so frequently I can do with the men what no one else at all can, getting them to eat, (some that will not touch their food otherwise, nor for any body else)—it is sometimes quite affecting I can tell you—I found such a case to-day, a soldier with throat disease, very bad—I fed him quite a dinner—the men, his comrades around, just stared in wonder, & one of them told me afterwards that he (the sick man) had not eat so much at a meal, in three months—Mother, I shall have my hands pretty full now for a while—write all about things home—


Lewis Brown says I must give you his love—he says he knows he would like you if he should see you—


  • 1. See the letter of January 29, 1864. [back]
  • 2. William Rackliffe (or Racliffe) died December 15, 1866, and was buried in the National Cemetery (The Library of Congress # 108). See also Whitman's letter of December 18, 1866. [back]
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