I have the present opertunity to drop you a few lines to let you now that I am well and have got safe to the regment and I have bin to see my famley they are well wee are all m[o]unted an wee have got the pras of the finest regment in these pats My Capten Skaggs2 is ded brother william3 is very low i dont think that he will live but 3 or foar days wee think we will cros the Cumbrlen river in a few days wee have got plontloon & boats in a larg foars in an a bout here most of them is mounted intfery an cavelry wee think wee will make a gard on nxvill [Knoxville?] excuse bad riten an short leter yours rspectivly
Direct your leter to Co E 2 tennossee regment Conal Carter4 Commanding
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 June 5, 1863, is held in the Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
1. John ("Jack") J. Barker was a soldier in the Second Tennessee Volunteer Regiment, whom Whitman greatly admired for remaining loyal to the Union even while in captivity among the Confederates. He became sick and was transferred to a hospital, where Whitman met him for the first time. (Back)
2. Captain Francis M. Skaggs of the Second Tennessee Volunteer Regiment was reported absent due to illness on the March-April 1863 muster roll and died at Stanford, Kentucky, on May 19, 1863. (Back)
3. William Barker, sergeant of Company E of the Second Tennessee Volunteer Regiment, recovered from his illness and served until his discharge on October 6, 1864. (Back)
4. Colonel James P. T. Carter (John S. Goff, "Colonel James P. T. Carter of Carter County," Tennessee Historical Quarterly 26 : 372–382). (Back)