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Anson Ryder, Jr., to Walt Whitman, 24 February 1867

 loc.01892.001_large.jpg My Dear Friend

I was thinking to day whether I had answered your last letter or not but I am going to write you anyhow[no handwritten text supplied here]The most news at present is about the high water of which we have plenty & to spare even to the big folks at Washington if they need any[no handwritten text supplied here] The weather is warm and spring is fairly advanced people are plowing & wheat looks first although I am not interested in agriculture I am glad to see things  loc.01892.002_large.jpg thriving. I have been engaged in the oil business the past year but I find it a losing game and now I am out of employment and floating around & its hard to tell when I shall turn up & whether it will be up side down or right side up If I had known in time I might possibly have got the nomination for Governor of this state but ex Gov. Helm2 has beat me. That you know would have been better than lying around idle now I must look for something else for a living. I might steal if I knew enough but I have not even the first  loc.01892.003_large.jpg rudiments of the profession and then it leads to unpleasant things when one gets caught at it I think of going to Nashville this week and can see if I can get work there something from blacking boots down to sweeping crossings I think if Gov Brownlow3 knew me he would not hesitate to give me a good berth in Tennessee but being of a modest disposition of course I cannot call his attention to my many merits

Now you must not think I am egotistical at all for I am not I am only telling you what most every one knows as true anything about me  loc.01892.004_large.jpg It's Sunday evening I'm sitting alone sad & lonely, no dog to love no one to talk with Time hangs heavily and yet they say time flies fleetly, Ah it may be I have seen the time when minutes were hours & hours days but that is gone yes its​ near two years since those scenes were past And May God in his mercy deliver us from the curse of war where so many meet their death or are thrown back upon the world a poor miserable cripple a invalid to themselves and of no benefit to country or friends

I remain affectionately your friend Anson Rider Junr

If4 you direct to this place I shall get your answer even if I am not here

Anson  loc.01892.005_large.jpg Anson Rider Bowling Green Ky​ Feb. 24, '67 Ans​ March 15, '67

Anson Ryder, Jr., a soldier, had apparently left Armory Square Hospital in 1865 and returned to his family at Cedar Lake, New York, accompanied by another injured soldier named Wood (probably Calvin B. Wood; see Notes and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts, ed. Edward F. Grier [New York: New York University Press, 1961–1984], 6:673). For other correspondence between Ryder and Walt Whitman, see Ryder's August 9, 1865, letter to Whitman. Excerpts from five of Whitman's letters to an unidentified ex-soldier (later identified as Anson Ryder, Jr.) were printed by Florence Hardiman Miller in the Overland Monthly under the title "Some Unpublished Letters of Walt Whitman's. Written to a Soldier Boy" in 1904. She was not able to date most of the letters or to offer any initial conjectures about the identity of the recipient. However, Edwin Haviland Miller later identified the soldier as Ryder. Florence Miller seems to imply that the correspondence continued into the early 1870s.


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Mr Walt Whitman | Attorney Generals Office | Washington D.C. It is postmarked: Bowling Green | [illegible] | 26 | 68 | KY. [back]
  • 2. John LaRue Helm (1802–1867) was governor of Kentucky from September 6, 1848–July 31, 1850, as a member of the Whig Party. He was re-elected for a nonconsecutive second term in 1867 as a member of the Democratic Party. Helm served only five days in of his second term, (September 3–September 8), before succumbing to his illness. [back]
  • 3. William Gannaway Brownlow (1805–1877) was governor of Tennessee from 1865 to 1869. His work to prod Tennessee to pass the Fourteenth Amendment led to the readmission of the state (the first Confederate state readmitted) into the Union after the Civil War. [back]
  • 4. This postscript is written upside down at the top of the fourth page of the letter. [back]
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