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Walt Whitman to Moses Lane (?), 13 (?) March 1864

Dear friend,1

I rec'd this morning your additional contribution of $5 for the wounded & sick. The same am't from you was also duly & thankfully received last month. It is some time since I have written you.2 I have lately been down to front a second time through the field hospitals—they are breaking them up & sending the bad cases up here. I suppose preparatory to some movement of course. Among the sick diarrhea & rheumatism are prevalent. Many of the cases of the latter suffer fearfully. I am writing this in hospital as I am watching here to-night over a bad case.

(Describe scene.)3

With me here things are about the same. I have first-rate health & strength. My hospital ministrations are very fascinating with all of their sadness. The wounded & sick get incredibly near to one. Poor young men, they respond so affectionately to kindness & magnetism.4

I suppose you hear of Grant's plan to improve enormously the communication between here & the southwest by rail &c. so that he can transport the army by immense trains hither & yon at short notice. They say he has staked all on taking Richmond within three months. God prosper him.

Our Virginia Army is in prime condition. This I know from personal observation. All its defeats & slaughters have only hardened it, & made it an army of fighters. I believe Grant realizes in his secret heart that it is the clear superior in fibre & soul of his Western Army, but of course he would not say so.

Dear friend, the sick are coming in here now from front pretty freely. I have need of means additional—The new sick & wounded generally come in without a cent. I give aid of all kinds, sometimes little sums of money. You have been generous & regular in your aid, & I cannot call on you for any thing more than you are doing, but I would like you to cast around among your friends, show them this note, & tell them the case—see if you could raise among them some 20 or $25 the ensuing week, if possible, for it is for a sacred object.5


  • 1. This appears to be a rough copy of a letter to Moses Lane (see Whitman's letter from January 16, 1863), who, according to his letter on May 27, 1863 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection), had promised to send Whitman $5 each month for his hospital work. March 13, 1864 is a plausible date, since Jeff had enclosed $5 from Lane on March 11, 1864 (Charles E. Feinberg Collection). [back]
  • 2. Although Whitman ran vertical lines through the salutation and the first three sentences, they are retained here because they permit reasonable conjectures as to the date and recipient. [back]
  • 3. This is, of course, a direction to Whitman. Here he undoubtedly intended to include material similar to that in a letter from May 14, 1863 addressed to Nicholas Wyckoff or Daniel L. Northrup. [back]
  • 4. Whitman deleted the following at this point: "It is wonderful to go round among them, & twice blessed. One wonders too where all the enormous proceeds . . ." [back]
  • 5. This letter is a draft. [back]
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