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Walt Whitman to Lewis K. Brown, 11 August 1863

Dear Lewy,

I thought I would write you a few lines to-day—I suppose you rec'd a letter from me eight or nine days ago1—I hope this will find you in good health & spirits—I wrote to you not to go about too much, & eat & drink too freely, & I must repeat the caution—a fellow can keep himself in good condition by a little care & prudence—

Well, Lewy, the presentation to Dr Bliss2 came off last Saturday evening—it was in ward F—the beds were all cleared out, the sick put in other wards—the room cleaned, hung with greens &c., looked very nice—the instruments were there on exhibition the afternoon. I took a view of them, they were in four cases, & looked very fine—in the evening they were presented—speeches were made by one & another—there was a band of music &c—I stopt about 20 minutes, but got tired, & went off among the boys that were confined to their beds—the room was crowded, & every thing passed off right I heard—

Lewy, we have had the hottest weather here I ever experienced—it has been now about ten days, & no let up yet—Yesterday & last night was the hottest, no rain for some time & the air prickly & burning—Still I am enjoying very good health, thank God—better this last week than I have had for two or three months—I have some thought of going on to New York for a short time, as I have not been home now in eight months, but if I do, I shall pretty surely return here before long—Lewy, the draft has been put through here in Washington the past week—they drafted lots of secessionists & quite a good many darks—(I wonder if it wouldn't be a good plan to draft all of both them kinds)—I don't hear any particular war news—the Army of the Potomac is down around Warrenton—there are conscripts arriving there to fill up the reg'ts, more or less every day—it will be a great & sudden change of life to many, especially such weather as this. I believe I told you in my last letter about the strange way the baby was born in the Chaplain's—well the baby is alive & growing like a pig, & the father Mr Lane is getting well, Mrs Lane ditto—Dr Bliss is just going off on a furlough—the Chaplain & wife have left on a furlough—Taber3 & the rest in ward K are all right—there have been quite a good many deaths in hospital the past week or so, the heat is bad for the poor wounded men—

Well, Lewy, I must now wind up—I send you my love, my darling son & comrade, & request you to write me soon as convenient, how you are getting along & all about things—I will write again before very long, till then good bye & God bless you, dear son—

Walt Whitman

address | care Major Hapgood paymaster U S A cor 15th & F st Washington D C—


  • 1. See Whitman's letter from August 1, 1863 . Whitman had not received the letter Brown wrote on August 10, 1863. [back]
  • 2. The Washington National Republican of August 10, 1863 carried a two-column account of the presentation of five cases of surgical instruments to Bliss. Chaplain Jackson (see Whitman's letter from August 1, 1863) declared with fervor: "We all love you, sir, for the kindness and urbanity with which you have always treated us." [back]
  • 3. J. A. Tabor seems to have been a patient at Armory Square Hospital. On July 18, 1864, Brown wrote to Whitman: "I suppose you herd that J. A. Tabor was killed. . . . in the wilderness the second days battle. I seen some men out of his company & they say that he fell dead when he was shot" (Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection, New York Public Library). [back]
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