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Joseph Harris to Walt Whitman, 5 September 1864

Dear Uncle Walt:

Lew tells me he has just finished writing to you, and I1 take the opportunity of sending a few lines in his letter2, as a slight token of my affectionate regard for you. I am sorry to hear you have been ill; but hope that by this time you have fully recovered; and that we shall soon have the pleasure of seeing you in Washington, where you are so much missed by your intimate friends and the soldiers in hospitals.

I am at present rather unwell;—with a billious attack—but hope to be up again in a day or two.

There was a salute of 100 guns fired here at noon today, in honor of the news from Atlanta, which creates quite a Jubilee.

There is now quite a shower of rain falling, and Lew and Bartlett are having quite a time down stairs3, while I am up here in our room, alternately throwing up bile, and writing to you. Very interesting, is it not? (I mean the bile - ing affair.)

If you have time, please write me sometimes, as I will always be very happy even to receive a few lines from you.

Very respectfully yours


  • 1. Joseph Harris was a patient at Armory Square Hospital. He was friends with some of Whitman's other Armory Square Hospital comrades, such as Lewis Brown and Adrian Bartlett. See Harris's letter to Whitman from September 5, 1864. [back]
  • 2. Lewis Kirke Brown (1843–1926) was wounded in the left leg near Rappahannock Station on August 19, 1862, and lay where he fell for four days. Eventually he was transferred to Armory Square Hospital, where Whitman met him, probably in February 1863. In a diary in the Library of Congress, Whitman described Brown on February 19, 1863, as "a most affectionate fellow, very fond of having me come and sit by him." Because the wound did not heal, the leg was amputated on January 5, 1864. Whitman was present and described the operation in a diary (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #103). Brown was mustered out in August 1864, and was employed in the Provost General's office in September; see Whitman's letter from September 11, 1864 . The following September he became a clerk in the Treasury Department, and was appointed Chief of the Paymaster's Division in 1880, a post which he held until his retirement in 1915. (This material draws upon a memorandum which was prepared by Brown's family and is now held in the Library of Congress.) [back]
  • 3. Adrian Bartlett was a friend of Joseph Harris and Lewis Brown; all three met Whitman while they were being treated at Armory Square Hospital. On July 18, 1864, Brown reported that he had not seen Bartlett and Harris since they returned from a spree to Baltimore on July 4, 1864. According to Brown's letter of September 5, 1864, the three young men were living in a Washington boardinghouse; Harris was not in good health, and Bartlett worked in the Treasury Department. [back]
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