Broadway Hotel, Lexington Ky
Dear Brother Jeff
You may think im'e rather putting on style, heading my letter from a hotel! but the fact is Jeff, I just live in style at present I do. Our Regt are encamped at Winchester about 16 miles from here. We were paid on saturday last, and on sunday the Col.2 told me the men wanted me, to bring their money on here, and Express it, so day before yesterday afternoon I started, on horseback, and a regular job I have had of it, I worked all day yesterday and have just finished this afternoon. I brought on about $11,000 and had to put it all up in packages of from 5 to 400 dollars each, so you may imagine it was something of a job. The money all came out right to a cent and I feel relieved of quite a responsibility to night.3 I sent $350 to Mother, tell her not to be afraid to use it. Kentucky is the most beautiful Country I ever saw, the people seem much more inteligent, and every way better, than in any other part of the South I have ever been. I like Ky first rate and am very glad we were brought here, as the liveing is good, and there is none of that devilish, Virginia mud to travell through,4 the roads here are the finest I ever saw as hard and firm as a floor, so that its no trouble at all to march 15 or 20 miles. Jeff I got a letter from you a few days ago, and was very sory to hear of Andrew's illness, but hope he is better now. I think if he would be more careful of himself he would soon be entirely well, as his lungs are not affected at all, and I hope he will be carefull as that throat disease wont stand being trifled with,5 Mother, Mattie, and Sis, you say, are quite well, and right glad am I to hear they are so. Han I should think from your letter is about the same as she has been for some time past, how strange it is she dont write oftener herself and let us know just how she is. Heyde is about the most contemptible little cuss I ever saw, and as for his letters you cant put any dependence in a word he says. I had a letter from Walt a couple of weeks since he says he is entirely over his cold and is now all right again. We have been at Winchester about a week and may stay there some time, but you know there is no telling any thing about it. There has been an order issued from the War Department to consolidate the companies in all Regts of less than 500 men, and Muster out of service the Col. Major, and surplus line Officers. Our Regt will only make 3 or 4 companies, so there will be a good lot of us to go home, I hear to night that Burnside has issued an order countermanding, the consolidation order in this department for the present but surely something will have to be done with the small Regts, and you must not be surprised to see me comeing home in the course of a few weeks, for if the War Department order is carried out (as I think it will be) I shall surely come home, It seems almost too bad to kill off the old Regts in that kind of way, and I should think it would be much better for the service to fill them up, either by recruiting or draft. I am going back to the Regt tomorrow, and will write again soon. I shall probaly know more about the mustering out business in a few days. Tell Mother to write to me as soon as she receives the money I send it by Adams Express. Much love to all
Direct Winchester Ky
The text presented here is derived from Jerome M. Loving, ed., The Civil War Letters of George Washington Whitman (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1975). 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 April 22, 1863, is held in The Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
For more information on the letters of George Washington Whitman, see Jerome M. Loving's introduction to the print edition.
1. The Ninth Army left Paris, Kentucky, April 3, 1863, and marched twenty-two miles to Mount Sterling, Kentucky, where it encamped. The Army remained in this area until April 17—except for April 15 when it invaded Sharpsburg, Kentucky, in search of Confederate guerillas and returned the same day (see Civil War Diary). The Union force's next encampment was in the vicinity of Winchester, Kentucky. From here, on April 20, George Whitman was dispatched to Lexington, Kentucky, in order to mail family payroll allotments for the officers and men of his regiment. (Back)
2. Charles W. LeGendre (1830–1899), born in France and educated at the University of Paris, was a soldier who helped to recruit the Fifty-first New York Volunteer Infantry. LeGendre was severely wounded at New Bern, North Carolina, on March 14, 1862, as George observed in his letter of March 16–18,1862, to his mother, Lousia Van Velsor Whitman (Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, Duke University Rare Books, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library). LeGendre was appointed lieutenant colonel on September 20, 1862, and later succeeded Edward Ferrero (see Walt Whitman's letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from December 29, 1862) and Robert B. Potter (see Walt Whitman's letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from May 26, 1863) as commanding officer of the Fifty-first Regiment. During the second Battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1864, he lost his left eye and the bridge of his nose, and was honorably discharged on October 4 of the same year. See Whitman's account of LeGendre's hospitalization in his letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman from May 13, 1864. (Back)
4. George is probably referring specifically to the "mud march" which began on January 21, 1863. After Burnside's unsuccessful attempt to capture Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, he finally persuaded Lincoln to approve the Army's crossing the Rappahannock River in a second attempt to take possession of the city. It resulted, however, in nothing except a wretched expedition in which the troops floundered in "floods of rain and seas of sticky clay without making any progress in its purpose of attacking Lee" (James Garfield Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction [Boston: D. C. Heath and company, ca. 1937], 315). (Back)