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Margaret Stillwell to Walt Whitman, 28 December 1863

Mr Whitman Dear frind

we1 are very grateful to you for the kindness you have Showed and Still Show to James2 our Dear Son and i Dont know how to Express our thanks or gratitude to you unless by writing a few lines to you and by So Doing we can tell you but little of the feelings of our hearts towards you for the intrest you have taken in My family not only in writing for James and Spending your time in talking and reading for him but you have taking a deep interest in our affliction by writing to us and to the rest of this family and i hope the good lord will reward you for all your kindness you have Showed to James and to all his friends and when i Say i hope the lord will reward you for your kindness i have Every reason to believe that he will for his word teach us that no kind act Shall go unrewarded for he that is too wise to err and too good to Do wrong has promised to bless in the Deed and May the lord of glory bless you and May he long Spare your life to be a blessing to your Mother and the rest of your famly and to your fellow creatures you have been More than a brother to James and his Sister and to us his parents More than a Son and we thank you from our hearts we often hear the word Made use of a frind in need is a frind indeed and that frind you have been to James and to his family and i sincerely hope that in the time of need you will find the Same frind or frinds that you have been to Me and Mine and when the last Closing scene of life Shall come and you have Done all that god required of you then May you have that frind that sticketh closer than a brother to rest your head upon and breath your life our Sweetly there and May we all find a frind in the frind of Siners when we come Die both parents and children brothers and Sisters but i Shall tire your patience i was to My Daughters when She got your letter and we was glad and thankful to hear from James through you and to hear as Much about his wound and how he was going if it is Slow and i Still ask you to be a father and a Mother to him and advise him for the best and when it will Do for him to come home that he wont run nor risk of giting cold alltho i expect the time Seem very long to him but he Might better wait a little longer than he would too then be in danger of geting cold for i expect his leg is bad yet and worse than we think it is Dear frind i would Still ask you to Spend what time you can Share with James and the other Sick boys and May the lord bless you and Make you happy while you are imparting happiness to others and May heaven bless you in your labour of love to your fellow Man

farewell Dear frind May god bless you is the Sincere wish of your frind


  • 1. Margaret Stilwell was the mother of John, James S., and Julia E. Stilwell; she was married to John Stilwell. [back]
  • 2. James S. Stilwell, Second New York Cavalry, was confined in Ward C of Armory Square with a gunshot wound in his left leg; see "Notebook: September–October, 1863" (Charles E. Feinberg Collection) and "Hospital Notes" (Henry E. Huntington Library). He recovered slowly from his injury. About the end of May in the following year he was sent to Mower Hospital, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, where he remained until he was granted a furlough in August 1864. He later returned to Mower Hospital and wrote to Whitman on September 27, 1864, that his wound was "most healed up," and that he expected either to be discharged or to be transferred to New York. See also Stilwell's letters to Whitman from July 5, 1864, and September 2, 1864. He was the brother of Julia and John Stilwell. [back]
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