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Walt Whitman to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel B. Haskell, 27 July 1863

Mr and Mrs Haskell

Your son Erastus Haskell,1 of Co K 141st New York, is now lying sick with typhoid fever here in hospital.

I have been with him quite a good deal, from day to day, was with him yesterday & indeed almost every day, & feel much interested in the young man. He has been very sick, & seems to be so now, as I should judge, but the doctor says he will recover. I had a talk with the doctor yesterday, & he says so still. But Erastus seems to me very sick, & I thought I would write to you. He had some one write to you about two weeks ago, but has received no answer.

Erastus does not talk much, so I do not understand much about his affairs. I am merely a friend. The address of Erastus is

Ward E, Armory Square Hospital | Washington D C

should you wish to write to him direct.

Walt Whitman

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

Upon second thought I enclose you an envelope to send your letter to Erastus—put a stamp on it, & write soon. I suppose you know he has been sick a great deal since he has been in the service.


  • 1. Whitman noted in his diary: "Rank musician—typhoid fever—I visited him from the time he was brought in the hospitals—he told me he had been sick off & on for several months" (Charles I. Glicksberg, Walt Whitman and the Civil War [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933], 148–149). See also his letters from August 10, 1863 and September 15, 1863 . On the verso of the letter is a pass, dated August 1, 1863, issued to Samuel B. Haskell for the purpose of visiting his son. The New-York Historical Society has a letter written by J. M. Jansen—like Erastus, a musician in the Hundred and Forty-first Regiment, New York Volunteers—on April 5, 1863, in which he informed Mr. Haskell that his son would surely receive "his discharge after a spel, so take things cool and dont borrow any trouble about him." Erastus added a note to Jansen's letter: "I am not doing any duty any where now, I havent been on duty since the 20th day of December." [back]
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