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Margaret Stillwell to Walt Whitman, 25 October 1863

Mr Whitman kind friend

we are very thankful to you for the kindness you have shown and Still Show to our poor boy i1 cant express My feelings that I feel towards you for the interst you have taken in our Son for Sympathize-ing with us in the loss of our Dear Son wich loss we Deeply feel but i humble hope our loss is poor John2 Eternal gain for i hope he lived long enuf to Make his pease with god before he Died we Miss him very Much though those little messengers of love and kindness that we received from him every week and the reason we Didnt Say any thing to James about it we was afraid it Might make him worse and we thought if he went to worrying about him fever Might Set in and that would be worse for the wound for as there is allways Some fever with a bad wound and when his brother and brother in law went to see him we thought he didnt know John was Dead his brother asked the Doctor if he better tell him and the Doctor thought not they intended to get a pass to go and bring poor John on to his friends but they would not give them any they Said they would have him Sent on but it is money Makeing all through this war after a Man has laid Down his life in his country cause then they want pay for his poor body if sent home to his friends

Dear Sir Do you know what they have if Sent to their friends if not we ask the favour of you to inquire i suppose John was buried not far from Culpeper William Did not think of asking what it would cost to Send him on to his frinds the captain had him conved to the town of C but found it impossible to procure a Coffin they buryed him as Decently as they could by pining him up in a thick woolen blanket

the captain Said he or John had often express a Desire to be Sent to his friends if he should fall in action wich was Much to be regreted that he couldnt be Sent to his friends but I hope we will be able to get him Sent or brought on yet we would feel better satisfied if we could have John buried among his frinds we would feel very grateful if you would inquire what it would or what it did cost to send a soldier on to York State and now Dear frind be all you Can to James father Mother and frind and May god reward you in your labor of love to the afflicted

Dear Sir we are as parents very thankful to you for writeing to us to let us know how our poor boy is for we are very anxious to hear from him you May know Something of a parent feelings if he was only closer by where we could See him Some time we would be glad but we Must be patient and trust in God hopeing for the best, yours respectfully


  • 1. Margaret Stilwell was the mother of James, John, and Julia Stilwell. [back]
  • 2. John Stilwell, brother of James and Julia Stilwell, was evidently killed at Culpeper, Virginia, about the time that James was wounded, for Julia Stilwell wrote to Whitman about both brothers on October 13, 1867. Whitman was mistaken about the body, however, since, according to this letter, members of the family had been refused a pass to Culpeper. [back]
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