In Whitman's Hand

Letters Written for Soldiers

About this Item

Title: Nelson Jabo to Adeline Jabo, 21 June 1865

Date: January 21, 1865

Whitman Archive ID: nar.03612

Source: National Archives and Records Administration. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Ashlyn Stewart and Kevin McMullen



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Washington,1
Jan. 21, 1865.

My dear Wife,

You must excuse me for not having written to you before. I have not been very well, & did not feel much like writing—but I feel considerably better now—my complaint is an affection of the lungs—I am mustered out of the service, but am not at present well enough to come home—I hope you will try to write back as soon as you receive this & let me know how you all are, & how things are going on—let me know how it is with mother—I write this by means of a friend who is now sitting by my side— —& I hope it will be God's will that we shall yet meet again—Well I send you all my love, & must now close.

Your affectionate husband
Nelson Jabo.2

written by Walt Whitman

a friend.


Notes:

1. Whitman wrote this letter while visiting soldiers in Harewood General Hospital, one of several hospitals in Washington that continued to care for discharged soldiers with lingering illnesses and injuries even after the war had ended (Kenneth M. Price and Jacqueline M. Budell, "Writen by Walt Whitman, a Friend," Prologue Magazine 42, no. 2 [Summer 2016]: 36–45). [back]

2. Jabo served initially in the 96th New York Infantry. He enlisted on October 26, 1861, in Mooers, Clinton County, New York, to serve three years. He left his work as a mason behind, along with his wife of 15 years and six young children. Surviving records tell us Jabo was of medium height and had dark hair and a dark complexion. Jabo's health declined rapidly after the battle of White Oak Swamp, and he was ultimately discharged on November 13, 1862, for disability. Despite this assessment, in November 1863 he rejoined the Union service as a substitute for Chester Bullard of Nashua, New Hampshire, and was assigned to Company H of the 8th New Hampshire Infantry. He was in and out of several military hospitals starting in May 1864, forcing his eventual transfer to the 24th Veteran Reserve Corps Infantry in June 1864, where he could be put on light duty. When Whitman penned this letter for Jabo, what had begun as "bronchitis" had progressed to pulmonary tuberculosis, or what was commonly known then as consumption. By Christmas 1865, Jabo was transferred to Harewood General Hospital, where he was at the time of this letter. When Harewood closed in May 1866, Jabo was transferred to a USA Post Hospital before eventually becoming a "charity patient" at Providence Hospital, a city institution, in September 1866. He died there in December 1866. His burial place is unknown (Price and Budell). [back]


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