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Walt Whitman to Alfred Pratt, 26 August 1865

Dear Al,1

Your letter came all right—& I was glad to hear from you, boy, & to know that you had got home to your own folks at last—& now I hope you will get well & strong again, dear son—& I hope it may be God's will that you will not only get so, but keep so.2 Armory Square hospital is broken up, & all the sick & wounded have been taken away, or forwarded home. I have not seen No. 6. in Ward C. that you speak of, but shall no doubt meet him soon, & that little matter is all right any how.3 Al, you was quite low, one time there in the Hospital—& the worst of it was you was down-hearted & homesick, & said nothing to any body—only when I came around, & we soon had quite a love toward each other, & no doubt that did you good—only I now regret that I did not do more for you, & come to see you oftener.

I am working now in the Attorney General's office. This is the place where the big southerners now come up to get pardoned—all the rich men & big officers of the reb army have to get special pardons, before they can buy or sell, or do any thing that will stand law—Sometimes there is a steady stream of them coming in here—old & young, men & women—some of the men are odd looking characters—I talk with them often, & find it very interesting to listen to their descriptions of things that have happened down south, & to how things are there now, &c. There are between 4 & 5000 pardons issued from this Office, but only about 200 have been signed by the President—The rest he is letting wait, till he gets good & ready—What I hear & see about Andrew Johnson, I think he is a good man—sometimes some of the letters he gets are sent over to this office to be answered—& occasionally that job falls to me—One of them was a letter a few days ago from a widow woman in Westfield, N Y. Her husband was in Texas when the war broke out, joined our army—& was killed by the rebels—they also confiscated his property in Texas, leaving his family helpless—this lady wrote to the President for aid, &c—I wrote the President's answer—telling her that she should have her husband's pension, which would be pretty good, as he was a captain—& that the rebs in Texas could not hold any such property, but that she could bring a suit & get it back, &c.—then put in a few words to cheer her up, &c.—

Dear son, I did not finish my letter because I have not been able to get the little picture of Lincoln & Washington4—but I succeeded in getting one this morning—I send it as a little present to my dear boy, & I hope it will please him, for there is something about it that is both pleasing & solemn to me, though but a small picture—We are having a cloudy drizzly day here & heavy mist—There is nothing very new or special—There was a big match played here yesterday between two base ball clubs, one from Philadelphia & the other a Washington club—& to-day another is to come off between a New York & the Philadelphia club I believe—thousands go to see them play5

I keep well, & every body says I am getting fat & hearty—I live at the same place in M street, 468—only I have moved into the front room—it is pleasanter—I have my meals brought up to me—my landlady gives me very good grub, $32.50 a month—Well I must draw to a close, as the sheet is most full—When you write, to let me know how you are, & if you have rec'd this, direct to me, Attorney General's office, Washington D. C.

Now, Ally, I must bid you good by, & I send you my love, my darling boy, & also to your parents, for your sake—you must try to be a good young man & behave right & manly, for that is far more than worldly prosperity—Farewell, dear son,

Walt Whitman


  • 1. All that is known about Alfred Pratt is contained in this letter and those of June 10, 1865, August 7, 1865, September 27, 1866, January 29, 1867, July 25, 1867, October 28, 1867, July 1, 1869, and January 20, 1870. [back]
  • 2. On August 7, 1865, Pratt had informed Whitman from Williamson, in Wayne County, N. Y., that he had arrived home late in July and was about to receive his discharge. [back]
  • 3. In his letter of August 7, 1865, Pratt told Whitman that he had given "to no. 6 thare in the ward 70cts to give to you." Probably in reference to this matter, Pratt wrote on the side of Whitman's letter: "the Draft I will send Monday. I went to the bank Saturday but was closed." [back]
  • 4. In a postscript to his letter of August 7, 1865, Pratt had asked Whitman "to sennd me that potograph of Abe and Washington like yours if you can find them." [back]
  • 5. The Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Washington Nationals 87 to 12 on August 28, 1865. On the following day the Nationals played the New York Atlantics. [back]
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