I now take this Oppertunity to write A few lines to you to let you now that I am well & in good spirits & I hope those few lines will find you in the same condition I received your letter & was verry glad to hear from you & to hear that you was well & in good spirits to[o] we got paid two or three days ago it is the first time that I have bin paid in ten months I drawed one hundred & fifty two dollars & thirty Cents
I am A going to send the most of it home in safe keeping you said that you wanted to now how the toe got along it is all well & it dont trouble me anny more you said that you was in Culpeper a few days ago if you come to Culpeper again I wish you would come & see me our Camp is 4 miles up the railroad toward the rapidan river near mitchell station I dont now as we will stay here long the report is that we are A going to come back to Washington in A few days A good share of the men is A reinlisting & going on furlow the duty is verry hard now on our regiment especily for it is pretty small well now I will have to close my letter by saying good by my dear friend walt
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 February 28, 1864, 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 Walt Whitman on September 17, from the U. S. General Hospital at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, "I left the armory hospital in somewhat of A hurry." He expected, he explained on September 28, to rejoin his regiment shortly, and was stationed near Washington when he wrote on October 13. He wrote on December 16, from Culpepper, 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 (August 29), was transported to Washington, and went home on furlough on July 1. He returned on August 14 to Finley Hospital, where, on August 30, 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 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. (These letters are in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection.) Smith was one of the soldiers to whom Whitman wrote ten years later; see "Letter from Walt Whitman to Bethuel Smith, December 1874" (Correspondence, 2: 318–319). (Back)