User menu


Letter to Lewis K. Brown, August 15, 1863

Whitman, Walt. "Letter to Lewis K. Brown, August 15, 1863." Walt Whitman: The Correspondence. Ed. Edwin Haviland Miller. New York: New York University Press, 1961. 133-134.
Full Text Available Below
Permission to reprint this text has been granted by New York University Press.

Whitman writes an affectionate letter to his friend and former soldier, Lewis Brown, whom he met as a wounded soldier in the hospital he volunteered at. He updates Brown on some hospital improvements since he has left, and speaks briefly about the war.

Full Text

To Lewis K. Brown
Washington | August 15 1863
Lewy, your letter of August 10 came safe, & was glad to hear all about you, & the way you are spending the time-Lew, you must be having first rate times out there--well you need something to make up what you have suffered-You speak of being used well out there-Lewy, I feel as if I could love any one that uses you well, & does you a kindness-but what kind of heart must that man have that would treat otherwise, or say any thing insulting, to a crippled young soldier, hurt in fighting for this union & flag? (Well I should say damned little man or heart in the business) -
Should you meet any such, you must not mind them, dear comrade, & not allow your feelings to be hurt by such loafers- (I agree with you that a rebel in the southern army is much more respectable than a northern copperhead. ) Dear son, when I read about your agreeable visit of a week, & how much you enjoyed yourself, I felt as much gratified as though I had enjoyed it myself-& I was truly thankful to hear that your leg is still doing well, & on the gain-you must not mind its being slowly, dear son, if it only goes forward instead of backward, & you must try to be very careful of your eating & drinking &c., not indulge in any excesses, & not eat too much flummery, but generally plain food, for that is always best, & it helps along So much.
Lewy, I believe I wrote you an acc't of the presentation to Dr Bliss-he is now off north for three weeks-Dr Butler (ward D) is in charge-some of the doctors & wardmasters have been drafted-poor Johnny Mahay is not in very good spirits-he was to have an operation performed before Bliss went, but he went off & did not do it-Johnny is pretty low some days -Things in ward K are pretty much the same-they had some improvem'ts in the Hospital, new sinks, much better, & the grounds in front & between the wards nicely laid out in Rowers & grass plots &c.-but, Lew, it has been awful hot in the wards the past two weeks, the roofs burnt like fire-
There is no particular war news-they are having batches of conscripts now every day in the Army-Meade is down on the upper Rappahannock & fords, & around Warrenton-Lee stretches down toward Gordonsville, they say his head quarters is there-folks we all looking toward Charleston -if we could only succeed there, I don't know what secesh would do-the ground seems to be slipping more & more from under their feet-Lew, the Union & the American Flag must conquer, it is destiny-it may be long, or it may be short, but that will be the result-but O what precious lives have been lost by tens of thousands in the struggle already-
Lew, you speak in your letter how you would like to see me-well, my darling, I wonder if there is not somebody who would be gratified to see you, & always will be wherever he is-Dear comrade, I was highly pleased at your telling me in your letter about your folks' place, the house & land & all the items-you say I must excuse you for writing so much foolishness -nothing of the kind-My darling boy, when you write to me, you must write without ceremony, I like to hear every little thing about yourself & your affairs-you need never care how you write to me, Lewy, if you will only-I never think about literary perfection in letters either, it is the man & the feeling-Lewy, I am feeling pretty well, but the sun affects me a little, aching & fulness in the head-a good many have been sun-struck here the last two weeks-I keep shady through the middle of the day lately- Well, my dear boy, I have scribbled away any thing, for I wanted to write you to-day & now I must switch off-good by, my darling comrade, for the present, & I pray God to bless you now & always.
Write when you feel like it, Lewy, don't hurry-address still care Major Hapgood, paymaster U S A, cor 15th & F st Washington D C.

People who Created this Work

Whitman, Walt author