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Letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, October 13, 1863

Whitman, Walt. "Letter to Louisa Van Velsor Whitman, October 13, 1863." Walt Whitman: The Correspondence. Ed. Edwin Haviland Miller. New York: New York University Press, 1961. 165-166.
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Whitman writes a letter to his mother, updating her on his current affairs. He spends most of his time in the hospital caring for wounded soldiers. He wishes to go home soon to visit his family.

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To Louisa Van Velsor Whitman
Washington Oct 13|1863
Dearest mother,
[Nothing] particular new with me. I am well & hearty—think a good deal about home. Mother, I so much want to see you, even if only for a couple of weeks—for I feel I must return here & continue my hospital operations. They are so much needed, although one can do only such a little in comparison, amid these thousands. Then I desire much to see Andrew. I wonder if I could cheer him up any—does he get any good from the treatment with the baths, &c. Mother, I suppose you have your hands full with Nancy’s poor little children, & one worry & another (when one gets old little things bother a great deal). Mother, I go down every day looking for a letter from you or Jeff—I had two from Jeff latter part of the week. I want to see Jeff much. I wonder why he didn’t send me the Union with my letter in. I am disappointed at not getting it. I sent Han [a] N Y Times with my last letter, & one to George too. Have you heard anything from George or Han?
There is a new lot of wounded now again. They have been arriving, sick & wounded, for three days—First long strings of ambulances with the sick. But yesterday many with bad & bloody wounds, poor fellows. I thought I was cooler & more used to it, but the sight of some of them brought tears into my eyes—Mother, I had the good luck yesterday to do quite a great deal of good—I had provided a lot of nourishing things for the men, but for another quarter—but I had them where I could use them immediately for these new wounded as they came in faint & hungry, & fagged out with a long rough journey, all dirty & torn, & many pale as ashed, & all bloody—I distributed all my stores, gave partly to the nurses I knew that were just taking charge of them--& as many as I could I fed myself—Then besides I found a lot of oyster soup handy, & I procured it all at once—Mother, it is the most pitiful sight I think when first the men are brought in—I have to bustle round, to keep from crying—they are such rugged young men—all these just arrived are cavalry men—Our troops got the worst of it, but fought like devils. Out men engaged were Kilpatrick’s cavalry. They were in the rear as part of Meade’s retreat-- & the reb cavalry cut in between & cut them off & [attacked] them & shelled them terribly. But Kilpatrick brought them out mostly—this was last Sunday.
Mother, I will try to come home before long, if only for six or eight days. I wish to see you, & Andrew—I wish to see the young ones & Mat. You must write. I am about moving, I have been hunting for a room to-day—I shall write next how I succeed. Goodbye for present, dear mother.


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