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Walt Whitman to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, 2 March 1864

Dear mother

You or Jeff must try to write as soon as you receive this & let me know how little Sis is, tell me if she got entirely over the croup & how she is—also about George's trunks,1 I do hope he recovered them, it was such a misfortune—I want to hear the end of it, I am in hopes I shall hear that he has got them—I have not seen in the papers whether the 51st has left New York yet—Mother, I want to hear all about home & all the occurrences, especially the two things I have just mentioned, & how you are, dearest mother, you must write me exactly how you are for somehow I was thinking from your letters lately whether you was as well as usual or not—write how my dear sister Mat is too, & whether you are still going to stay there in Portland av. the coming year—Well, dear mother, I am just the same here, nothing new, I am well & hearty, & constantly moving around among the wounded & sick—there are a great many of the latter coming up—the hospitals here are quite full—lately they have [been] picking out in the hospitals all that had pretty well recovered, & sending them back to their regiments, they seem to be determined to strengthen the army this spring, to the utmost—they are sending down many to their reg'ts that are not fit to go, in my opinion—then there are squads & companies & reg'ts too passing through here in one steady stream going down to front, returning from furlough home—but then there are quite a number leaving the army on furlough, re-enlisting, & going north for a while—they pass through here quite largely—

Mother, Lewis Brown is getting quite well, he will soon be able to have a wooden leg put on, he is very restless & active, & wants to go around all the time—

Sam Beatty2 is here in Washington—We have had quite a snow storm, but is clear & sunny to-day here, but sloshy, I am wearing my army boots—any thing but the dust—Dear mother, I want to see you & Sis, & Mat & all very much—if I can get a chance I think I shall come home for a while—I want to try to bring out a book of poems, a new one to be called "Drum Taps" & I want to come to New York for that purpose too—

Mother, I havn't given up the project of lecturing3 either—but whatever I do, I shall for the main thing devote myself for years to come to these wounded & sick, what little I can—Well good bye, dear mother, for present—write soon—



  • 1. On March 6, George wrote to his mother: "I found my trunk up at Fort Schuyler all right the morning I left home" (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Books, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). When he wrote, George was in Nashville, Tennessee, on his way to Knoxville, Kentucky. [back]
  • 2. See Whitman's letter from April 28, 1863. [back]
  • 3. Whitman wrote about his lecture plans in a letter from June 9, 1863. Evidently spurred by the enthusiasm of John Burroughs, he had agreed to lecture in Washington on January 20 or 25. "If we succeed here," Burroughs wrote to a friend, "he proposes going North to New York, Brooklyn, Boston, etc."; see Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1931), 18. The plans, however, did not materialize. [back]
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