i now take the plesure of writing a few lines yo hoping they find yo well i am quite well and in the convalesent Camp i long to see yo and have a talk with yo thair hante inny news here we had a good dinner here to day
father yo must excuse me for not writing a long letter for my hand trembls so that i cant write well father write to me and if yo can come and see me good by for this time from Wm E Vandemark to friend Walt Whitman
i am in barick 43 Addres Camp Convalesint Elickazandry [Soldiers nicknamed Alexandria "Camp Misery".]
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 December 25, 1863, is held in the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library.
1. William E. Vandemark, a private in Company I of the 120th New York Infantry, was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863. Whitman noted that Vandemark was placed in bed 39Ward B at Armory Square Hospital, and Whitman may have written a letter to Vandemark's sister Sarah in Accord, New York (Edward F. Grier, ed., Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 2:644). Vandemark returned home on furlough and was briefly transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps during the summer of 1864 before returning to his regiment. He was killed on a skirmish line during the charge on Fort Davis at Petersburg, Virginia, on September 28, 1864. (Back)