User menu


Letter to Nathaniel Bloom, September 5, 1863

Whitman, Walt. "Letter to Nathaniel Bloom, September 5, 1863." Walt Whitman: The Correspondence. Ed. Edwin Haviland Miller. New York: New York University Press, 1961. 141-143.
Full Text Available Below
Permission to reprint this text has been granted by New York University Press.

Whitman reminisces to his dear friend Nat Bloom about the good times they used to share together in New York with a number of their friends. He misses all “the boys” very much and wishes to send them his love. Whitman informs Nat that he has been spending his days in the hospital, visiting sick and dying troops, and this has been an extremely rewarding experience for him.

Full Text

To Nathaniel Bloom
Washington | September 5 1863

Dear Nat
I wish you were here if only to enjoy the bright & beautiful weather we are having here now for about two weeks—then it is sufficiently cool, & the air buoyant & inspiriting—dear friend, how long it is since we have seen each other, since those pleasant meetings & those hot spiced rums & suppers & our dear friends Gray & Chauncey, & Russell, & Fritschy too, (who for a while at first used to sit so silent,) & Perkins & our friend Raymond—how long it seems—how much I enjoyed it all. What a difference it is with me here—I tell you, Nat, my evenings are frequently spent in scenes that make a terrible difference—for I am still a hospital visitor, there has not passed a day for months (or at least not more than two) that I have not been among the sick & wounded, either at hospitals or down in camp—occasionally here I spend the evenings in the hospital—the experience is a profound one, beyond all else, & touches me personally, egotistically, in unprecedented ways—I mean the way often the amputated, sick, sometimes dying soldiers cling & cleave to me as it were as a man overboard to a plank, & the perfect content they have if I will remain with them, sit on the side of the cot awhile, some youngsters often, & caress them &c.—It is delicious to be the object of so much love & reliance, & to do them such good, soothe & pacify torments of wounds &c—You will doubtless see in what I have said the reason I continue so long in this kind of life—as I am entirely on my own hook too.
Life goes however quite well with me here—I work a few hours a day at copying &c, occasionally write a newspaper letter, & make enough money to pay my expenses—I have a little room, & live a sort of German or Parisian student life—always get my breakfast in my room, (have a little spirit lamp) & rub on free & happy enough, untrammeled by business, for I make what little employment I have suit my moods—walk quite a good deal, & in this weather the rich and splendid environs of Washington are an unfailing fountain to me—go down the river, or off into Virginia once in a while—All around us here are forts, by the score—great ambulance & teamsters’ camps &c—these I go to—some have little hospitals, I visit, &c &c—
Dear Nat, your good and friendly letter came safe, & was indeed welcome—I had not thought you had forgotten me, but I wondered why you did not write—What comfort you must take out there in the country, by the river00I have read your letter many times, as I do from all my dear friends & boys there in New York—Perkins lately wrote me a first-rate letter, & I will reply to it soon—I wish to see you all very much—I wish you to give my love to Fritschy, & Fred Gray—I desire both to write to me—Nat, you also, my dear comrade, & tell me all about the boys & everything, all the little items are so good—should Charles Russell visit New York, I wish you to say to him I send him my love—I wish you the same to Perk, & to Kingsley & Ben Knower—So good bye, my comrade, till we meet, & God bless you, dear friend—
address me care Major Hapgood, Paymaster U S A, cor 15th & F
Washington D C—

People who Created this Work

Whitman, Walt author

People Mentioned in this Work

Bloom, Nathaniel

The letter is written to Nat Bloom

Chauncey, Charles [pages:142]

Whitman mentions that he misses his dear friend Chauncy

The Fred Gray Association

The Fred Gray Association is not specifically mentioned in this letter, but both Whitman and Bloom were core members of the group.

Fritsch, Hugo [pages:142]

Whitman mentions that he misses his dear friend "Fritschy"

Gray, John Frederick [pages:142]

Whitman mentions that he misses his dear friend Fred Gray

Kingsley, Charles [pages:143]

Whitman mentions that he misses his dear friend Kingsley, and asks Bloom to send him his love

Knower, Ben [pages:143]

Whitman asks Bloom to send his love to Ben Knower

Perkins, S. [pages:142]

Whitman mentions that he misses his dear friend Perkins and implores Bloom to send him his love

Raymond, Henry [pages:142]

Whitman mentions that he misses his dear friend Raymond

Russell, Charles [pages:142]

Whitman mentions that he misses his dear friend Russell and asks Bloom to send him his love