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Alonzo S. Bush to Walt Whitman, 22 December 1863

Friend Walt,

Sir I1 am happy to announce the arrival of Your Kind and verry wellcom Epistel and I can assure you that the contents ware persued with all the pleasure immaginable. I am glad to Know that you are once more in the hotbed City of Washington So that you can go often and See that Friend of ours at Armory Square, L[ewis] K. B[rown].2 The fellow that went down on your BK, both So often with me. I wished that I could See him this evening and go in the Ward Master's Room and have Some fun for he is a gay boy. I am very Sorry indeed to here that after laying So long that he is about to loose his leg, it is to bad, but I Suppose that the Lords will must be done and We must submit. Walter I Suppose that you had a nice time while at Home. I am glad to report that I enjoyed my Self finely and had a gay time. Generaly I am now paying up for the good times I had at Armory Square & at Home. Just immagin that you see me at the dead Hour of night Standing picket on the Potomac looking to see how things are going on and pick up Deserters it is amusing to See how Sly they are in getting over they come on rafts logs & any thing that will bear there weight with oars muffled and as still as possible. And you may guess that they are Some what suppriz[ed] on landing to find an escort of the first Ind Cav waiting to See them Safe to Washington. We have caught over a hundred in the last 2 months. They all Seam to be flush with money and that goes to Show they are Sub[stitutes.] They come for money & not country. We have verry good Quarters and plenty of Grub. Our Shantys are of Logs and are very comfort[able.] Our Horses can not be beat for they are fat and in Splend[id] Condition our Stables are made of pine boughs and covered With Straw which turns rain and snow very well considering

When off duty the boys enjoy them selves by Horse racing & Hunting Game is very plenty down Here ducks Quail Squirl & fox are the chief ones Coons & opoposms are als[o] humerous. We have a good pack of Hounds now and are training our Horses for a grand fox Hunt on the 25th of this month I wish you and Some of the boys ware here to take a hand, as there will be fun, that you may depend on. I have been waiting for a comission Ever cince I came Here but as yet I have not Seen it. I expected to be in Washington before this on my way Home to get my rights, if I dont get it I will not come to Washington till the latter part of Jan or the first of Feb—and when I do come I will be sure to give you a call. I want you to give my best wishes to the Lady Nurse of Ward K also to W[ard] M[aster] Cate, Brown, Billy Clements, Miss Felton3 & all the rest...

Please to tell them each & every one that I would like to write to them all but am So Situated that I can not but will call on them the first time I come up. Tell Miss Lowell that her kindness to the Solders undr her charge While I was there I never Shall forget and that I often think of the games we used to play Tell Miss Felton that I never will forget theWatter cooler of Ward P. and as there are some of my Friends that I have omited on account of names I hope you will as[k] Pardon in my behalf. tell Brown to remember me to Joseph of the Starr.

Johny Strain my companion wishes to be remembred to all I am sorry to inform you that He met with another misfortune after he got Here he was thrown from his Horse and had his arm broken but is getting along very well at presant. My Love & best Wishes to all I will close Hoping to Here from you soon.

I remain your True Friend, Alonzo Bush


  • 1. Alonzo S. Bush was a Union soldier with Company A of the First Indiana Cavalry. He enlisted on August 13, 1862. See Edward F. Grier's Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts (New York: New York University Press, 1984), 2:541. [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. Mary Felton, a nurse in Armory Square Hospital, was the daughter of Harvard president Cornelius Conway Felton, who had died on February 26, 1862. At the close of the war, she helped organize the Howard Industrial School, a trade school in Cambridge aimed at training former slaves into industrial jobs in the North. [back]
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