Your kind favor of 22nd [This letter is currently lost] came to hand all O.K. and I was glad to here from you and the Hospital Boys and learn that you ware getting along fine. I should like to have been out to the front withe you and seen the old army of Potomac once more for cince we left them we have had no fight or skirmish in that line every thing is dul down here. You say you have had some hard weather of late. We experienced some of it I dare say—
I am glad to know that the boys had such good quarters this winter and hope that they may be able to whip the rebs in the coming contest. I was much pleased to here that Lewis Brown had recovered so much as to go out on pass. tell him to go slow and all will be well in the out come. And tell him that I still look for his & Benedict's photographs. Bartlett's I have.2
Friend Walt there is nothing of importance or interest going on here and camp. Life is pretty lazy at this time we are rejocing at the timely arrival of sweet spring once more Winter has come & gone, and solders begin to feell happy. the weather is tolarable fine at this presant time and the trees begin to bud and the Bird to sing. it will be a beautiful place down here in a few weeks.
There is a large dance house and pleasure garden a bout 1/ 4 from here they are fixing it up for the summer. So you must com down when it gets in full blast a boat will play between here & Washington so it will be handy and I shall expect many of the Boys to come. John Strain is in pretty good Health but his leg has never been of much service to him cince he is expecting his discharge at this time he will get it3. I would like to have some of the contents of the black Balt at this time
I gave that note to Larr and he was muched pleased to here from you, and will reply to it in person. They both wish to be remembered to you and the boys of Hospital. Please to remember me to Miss Lowell4 Brown5, Benedict, Bartlett, & Chas Cate6—also to all others of my acquain[tance]—and dont forget to reserve a due portion for you self I will now close Hoping to Here from you soon, good By
To Walt, I wish to know if you can get aa Photograph taken from the Negitive of mine if so inform me, also of Price as I wish to send for a doz more if it can be done I will send you the money for to have them taken—as soon as we are paid I will send 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 March 7, 1864, is held in the Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
2. Adrian Bartlett was a friend of Joseph Harris and Lewis Brown; all three met Whitman while they were being treated at Armory Square Hospital. On July 18, 1864, Brown reported that he had not seen Bartlett and Harris since they returned from a spree to Baltimore on July 4, 1864. According to Brown's letter of September 5, 1864, the three young men were living in a Washington boardinghouse; Harris was not in good health, and Bartlett worked in the Treasury Department. (Back)
3. John Strain, recorded in Whitman's notebook as "Co A 1st Indiana Cav" (Edward F. Grier, ed., Notes and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1961–84], 2:670). Bush refers to Strain as his hospital "companion." (See the letter from Alonzo S. Bush to Walt Whitman from December 22, 1863.) (Back)
4. Ana Lowell ("Miss Lowell"), worked as a nurse in Armory Square Hospital during the Civil War. (Back)
5. Lewis K. Brown (1843–1926) was wounded in the left leg near Rappahannock Station on August 19, 1862, and lay where he fell for four days. Eventually he was transferred to Armory Square Hospital, where Walt Whitman met him, probably in February, 1863. In a diary in the Feinberg Collection, Whitman described Brown on February 19 as 'a most affectionate fellow, very fond of having me come and sit by him.' Because the wound did not heal, the leg was amputated on January 5, 1864. Whitman was present and described the operation in a diary (Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of Walt Whitman, The Library of Congress, Notebook #103). Brown was mustered out in August, 1864, and was employed in the Provost General's office in September. The following September he became a clerk in the Treasury Department, and was appointed Chief of the Paymaster's Division in 1880, a post which he held until his retirement in 1915. (This material is drawn from a memorandum prepared by Brown's family, now in the Library of Congress.)" (Edwin Haviland Miller, ed., Walt Whitman: The Correspondence [New York: New York University Press, 1961–77]). (Back)
6. Charles Cate, ward master in Amory Square Hospital. (Back)