I now sit to write to you I hope this will find you in good spirits & well I received your letters & was verry glad to get them & always shall be I am well the toe is getting along verry fast I ware my boots A little everry day I think in A few days I shall be able to join my regiment I hope so anyway for it is so loansome here to me I walk around considerable & the more I walk around the more loansom it is to me the buildings are all burnt & it looks dessolate but they are repareing them again Carlisle is miserabler than Washington for women I think friend walt I should like to Come & see you verry much I hope that I shall join my regimint soon & then shall be near Washington where I Can come & see you
Dear friend I dont now as I have anny more to write good by & may god bless you
The text presented here is derived from Charley Shively, ed., Drum Beats: Walt Whitman's Civil War Boy Lovers (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1989). For a detailed description of discrepancies between this electronic edition and the print source, see our statement of editorial policy.
The manuscript of this letter, dated September 28, 1863, is held in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
1. Bethuel Smith, Company F, Second U.S. Cavalry, was wounded in 1863. He wrote to Whitman on September 17, 1863, from the U.S. General Hospital at Carlisle, Pennsylanvia, "I left the armory hospital in somewhat of A hurry." He was stationed near Washington when he wrote on October 13, 1863. He wrote on December 16, 1863, from Culpeper, Virginia, that he was doing provost duty, and on February 28, 1864, he was in a camp near Mitchell Station, Virginia, where "the duty is verry hard." He was wounded again on June 11 (so his parents reported to Whitman on August 29, 1864), was transported to Washington, and went home on furlough on July 1. He returned on August 14 to Finley Hospital, where, on August 30, 1864, he wrote to Whitman: "I would like to see you verry much, I have drempt of you often & thought of you oftener still." He expected to leave the next day for Carlisle Barracks to be mustered out, and on October 22, 1864, he wrote to Whitman from Queensbury, New York. When his parents communicated with Walt Whitman on January 26, 1865, Bethuel was well enough to perform tasks on the farm. Smith was one of the soldiers to whom Whitman wrote ten years later; see Whitman's letter to Bethuel Smith, December 1874 (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., Walt Whitman: The Correspondence, 6 vols. [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77], 2:318–319). (Back)