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.
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.