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Complete Prose Works by Walt Whitman

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Specimen Days and Collect, November Boughs and Good Bye My Fancy





A Happy Hour's Command
Answer to an Insisting Friend
Genealogy--Van Velsor and Whitman
The Old Whitman and Van Velsor Cemeteries
The Maternal Homestead
Two Old Family Interiors
Paumanok, and my Life on it as Child and Young Man
My First Reading--Lafayette
Printing Office--Old Brooklyn
My Passion for Ferries
Broadway Sights
Omnibus Jaunts and Drivers
Plays and Operas too
Through Eight Years
Sources of Character--Results--1860
Opening of the Secession War
National Uprising and Volunteering
Contemptuous Feeling
Battle of Bull Run, July, 1861
The Stupor Passes--Something Else Begins
Down at the Front
After First Fredericksburg
Back to Washington
Fifty Hours Left Wounded on the Field
Hospital Scenes and Persons
Patent-Office Hospital
The White House by Moonlight
An Army Hospital Ward
A Connecticut Case
Two Brooklyn Boys
A Secesh Brave
The Wounded from Chancellorsville
A Night Battle over a Week Since
Unnamed Remains the Bravest Soldier
Some Specimen Cases
My Preparations for Visits
Ambulance Processions
Bad Wounds--the Young
The Most Inspiriting of all War's Shows
Battle of Gettysburg
A Cavalry Camp
A New York Soldier
Home-Made Music
Abraham Lincoln
Heated Term
Soldiers and Talks
Death of a Wisconsin Officer
Hospitals Ensemble
A Silent Night Ramble
Spiritual Characters among the Soldiers
Cattle Droves about Washington
Hospital Perplexity
Down at the Front
Paying the Bounties
Rumors, Changes, Etc.
Summer of 1864
A New Army Organization fit for America
Death of a Hero
Hospital Scenes--Incidents
A Yankee Soldier
Union Prisoners South
A Glimpse of War's Hell-Scenes
Items from My Note Books
A Case from Second Bull Run
Army Surgeons--Aid Deficiencies
The Blue Everywhere
A Model Hospital
Boys in the Army
Burial of a Lady Nurse
Female Nurses for Soldiers
Southern Escapees
The Capitol by Gas-Light
The Inauguration
Attitude of Foreign Governments During the War
The Weather--Does it Sympathize with These Times?
Inauguration Ball
Scene at the Capitol
A Yankee Antique
Wounds and Diseases
Death of President Lincoln
Sherman's Army Jubilation--its Sudden Stoppage
No Good Portrait of Lincoln
Releas'd Union Prisoners from South
Death of a Pennsylvania Soldier
The Armies Returning
The Grand Review
Western Soldiers
A Soldier on Lincoln
Two Brothers, one South, one North
Some Sad Cases Yet
Calhoun's Real Monument
Hospitals Closing
Typical Soldiers
Three Years Summ'd up
The Million Dead, too, Summ'd up
The Real War will never get in the Books
An Interregnum Paragraph
New Themes Enter'd Upon
Entering a Long Farm-Lane
To the Spring and Brook
An Early Summer Reveille
Birds Migrating at Midnight
Summer Sights and Indolences
Sundown Perfume--Quail-Notes--the Hermit Thrush
A July Afternoon by the Pond
Locusts and Katy-Dids
The Lesson of a Tree
Autumn Side-Bits
The Sky--Days and Nights--Happiness
Colors--A Contrast
November 8, '76
Crows and Crows
A Winter-Day on the Sea-Beach
Sea-Shore Fancies
In Memory of Thomas Paine
A Two Hours' Ice-Sail
Spring Overtures--Recreations
One of the Human Kinks
An Afternoon Scene
The Gates Opening
The Common Earth, the Soil
Birds and Birds and Birds
Full-Starr'd Nights
Mulleins and Mulleins
Distant Sounds
A Sun-Bath--Nakedness
The Oaks and I
A Quintette
The First Frost--Mems
Three Young Men's Deaths
February Days
A Meadow Lark
Sundown Lights
Thoughts Under an Oak--A Dream
Clover and Hay Perfume
An Unknown
Bird Whistling
Three of Us
Death of William Cullen Bryant
Jaunt up the Hudson
Happiness and Raspberries
A Specimen Tramp Family
Manhattan from the Bay
Human and Heroic New York
Hours for the Soul
Straw-Color'd and other Psyches
A Night Remembrance
Wild Flowers
A Civility Too Long Neglected
Delaware River--Days and Nights
Scenes on Ferry and River--Last Winter's Nights
The First Spring Day on Chestnut Street
Up the Hudson to Ulster County
Days at J.B.'s--Turf Fires--Spring Songs
Meeting a Hermit
An Ulster County Waterfall
Walter Dumont and his Medal
Hudson River Sights
Two City Areas Certain Hours
Central Park Walks and Talks
A Fine Afternoon, 4 to 6
Departing of the Big Steamers
Two Hours on the Minnesota
Mature Summer Days and Night
Exposition Building--New City Hall--River-Trip
Swallows on the River
Begin a Long Jaunt West
In the Sleeper
Missouri State
Lawrence and Topeka, Kansas
The Prairies--(and an Undeliver'd Speech)
On to Denver--A Frontier Incident
An Hour on Kenosha Summit
An Egotistical "Find"
New Scenes--New Joys
Steam-Power, Telegraphs, Etc.
America's Back-Bone
The Parks
Art Features
Denver Impressions
I Turn South and then East Again
Unfulfill'd Wants--the Arkansas River
A Silent Little Follower--the Coreopsis
The Prairies and Great Plains in Poetry
The Spanish Peaks--Evening on the Plains
America's Characteristic Landscape
Earth's Most Important Stream
Prairie Analogies--the Tree Question
Mississippi Valley Literature
An Interviewer's Item
The Women of the West
The Silent General
President Hayes's Speeches
St. Louis Memoranda
Nights on the Mississippi
Upon our Own Land
Edgar Poe's Significance
Beethoven's Septette
A Hint of Wild Nature
Loafing in the Woods
A Contralto Voice
Seeing Niagara to Advantage
Jaunting to Canada
Sunday with the Insane
Reminiscence of Elias Hicks
Grand Native Growth
A Zollverein between the U. S. and Canada
The St. Lawrence Line
The Savage Saguenay
Capes Eternity and Trinity
Chicoutimi, and Ha-ha Bay
The Inhabitants--Good Living
Cedar-Plums Like--Names
Death of Thomas Carlyle
Carlyle from American Points of View
A Couple of Old Friends--A Coleridge Bit
A Week's Visit to Boston
The Boston of To-Day
My Tribute to Four Poets
Millet's Pictures--Last Items
Birds--and a Caution
Samples of my Common-Place Book
My Native Sand and Salt Once More
Hot Weather New York
"Ouster's Last Rally"
Some Old Acquaintances--Memories
A Discovery of Old Age
A Visit, at the Last, to R. W. Emerson
Other Concord Notations
Boston Common--More of Emerson
An Ossianic Night--Dearest Friends
Only a New Ferry Boat
Death of Longfellow
Starting Newspapers
The Great Unrest of which We are Part
By Emerson's Grave
At Present Writing--Personal
After Trying a Certain Book
Final Confessions--Literary Tests
Nature and Democracy--Morality






Preface, 1855, to first issue of "Leaves of Grass"
Preface, 1872, to "As a Strong Bird on Pinions Free"
Preface, 1876, to L. of G. and "Two Rivulets"






Nationality (and Yet)
Emerson's Books (the Shadows of Them)
Ventures, on an Old Theme
British Literature
Darwinism (then Furthermore)
The Tramp and Strike Questions
Democracy in the New World
Foundation Stages--then Others
General Suffrage, Elections, Etc.
Who Gets the Plunder?
Friendship (the Real Article)
Lacks and Wants Yet
Rulers Strictly Out of the Masses
Monuments--the Past and Present
Little or Nothing New After All
A Lincoln Reminiscence
Book-Classes-America's Literature
Our Real Culmination
An American Problem
The Last Collective Compaction


Dough Face Song
Death in the School-Room
One Wicked Impulse
The Last Loyalist
Wild Frank's Return
The Boy Lover
The Child and the Profligate
Lingave's Temptation
Little Jane
Dumb Kate
Talk to an Art Union
Wounded in the House of Friends
Sailing the Mississippi at Midnight


OUR EMINENT VISITORS, Past, Present and Future











Negro Slaves in New York
Canada Nights
Country Days and Nights
Central Park Notes
Plate Glass Notes


Washington Street Scenes
The 195th Pennsylvania
Left-hand Writing by Soldiers
Central Virginia in '64
Paying the First Color'd Troops




Preface to Reader in British Islands
Additional Note, 1887
Preface to English Edition "Democratic Vistas"




Attorney General's Office, 1865
A Glint Inside of Abraham Lincoln's Cabinet Appointments
Note to a Friend
Written Impromptu in an Album
The Place Gratitude fills in a Fine Character


ELIAS HICKS, Notes (such as they are)

George Fox and Shakspere




Ship Ahoy
For Queen Victoria's Birthday





The Perfect Human Voice
Shakspere for America
"Unassailed Renown"
Inscription for a Little Book on Giordano Bruno
Health (Old Style)
As in a Swoon
L. of G.
After the Argument
For Us Two, Reader Dear


A World's Show
New York--the Bay--the Old Name
A Sick Spell
To be Present Only
"Intestinal Agitation"
"Walt Whitman's Last 'Public'"
Ingersoll's Speech
Feeling Fairly
Old Brooklyn Days
Two Questions
Preface to a Volume
An Engineer's Obituary
Old Actors, Singers, Shows, Etc., in New York
Some Personal and Old Age Jottings
Out in the Open Again
America's Bulk Average
Last Saved Items




_Down in the Woods, July 2d, 1882_.-If I do it at all I must delay no
longer. Incongruous and full of skips and jumps as is that huddle of
diary-jottings, war-memoranda of 1862-'65, Nature-notes of 1877-'81,
with Western and Canadian observations afterwards, all bundled up and
tied by a big string, the resolution and indeed mandate comes to me
this day, this hour,--(and what a day! What an hour just passing! the
luxury of riant grass and blowing breeze, with all the shows of sun
and sky and perfect temperature, never before so filling me, body
and soul),--to go home, untie the bundle, reel out diary-scraps and
memoranda, just as they are, large or small, one after another, into
print-pages,[1] and let the melange's lackings and wants of connection
take care of themselves. It will illustrate one phase of humanity
anyhow; how few of life's days and hours (and they not by relative
value or proportion, but by chance) are ever noted. Probably another
point, too, how we give long preparations for some object, planning
and delving and fashioning, and then, when the actual hour for doing
arrives, find ourselves still quite unprepared, and tumble the thing
together, letting hurry and crudeness tell the story better than
fine work. At any rate I obey my happy hour's command, which seems
curiously imperative. May be, if I don't do anything else, I shall
send out the most wayward, spontaneous, fragmentary book ever printed.


[1] The pages from 1 to 15 are nearly verbatim an off-hand letter of
mine in January, 1882, to an insisting friend. Following, I give some
gloomy experiences. The war of attempted secession has, of course,
been the distinguishing event of my time. I commenced at the close of
1862, and continued steadily through '63, '64 and '65, to visit the
sick and wounded of the army, both on the field and in the hospitals
in and around Washington city. From the first I kept little note-books
for impromptu jottings in pencil to refresh my memory of names and
circumstances, and what was specially wanted, &c. In these, I brief'd
cases, persons, sights, occurrences in camp, by the bed-side, and not
seldom by the corpses of the dead. Some were scratch'd down from
narratives I heard and itemized while watching, or waiting, or tending
somebody amid those scenes. I have dozens of such little note-books left,
forming a special history of those years, for myself alone, full of
associations never to be possibly said or sung. I wish I could convey
to the reader the associations that attach to these soil'd and creas'd
livraisons, each composed of a sheet or two of paper, folded small to
carry in the pocket, and fasten'd with a pin. I leave them just as I
threw them by after the war, blotch'd here and there with more than one
blood-stain, hurriedly written, sometimes at the clinique, not seldom
amid the excitement of uncertainty, or defeat, or of action, or getting
ready for it, or a march. Most of the pages from 20 to 75 are verbatim
copies of those lurid and blood-smuch'd little notebooks.

Very different are most of the memoranda that follow. Some time after
the war ended I had a paralytic stroke, which prostrated me for
several years. In 1876 I began to get over the worst of it. From this
date, portions of several seasons, especially summers, I spent at a
secluded haunt down in Camden county, New Jersey--Timber creek, quite
a little river (it enters from the great Delaware, twelve miles
away)--with primitive solitudes, winding stream, recluse and woody
banks, sweet-feeding springs, and all the charms that birds, grass,
wild-flowers, rabbits and squirrels, old oaks, walnut trees, &c., can
bring. Through these times, and on these spots, the diary from page 76
onward was mostly written.

The COLLECT afterwards gathers up the odds and ends of whatever pieces
I can now lay hands on, written at various times past, and swoops all
together like fish in a net.

I suppose I publish and leave the whole gathering, first, from that
eternal tendency to perpetuate and preserve which is behind all
Nature, authors included; second, to symbolize two or three specimen
interiors, personal and other, out of the myriads of my time, the
middle range of the Nineteenth century in the New World; a strange,
unloosen'd, wondrous time. But the book is probably without any
definite purpose that can be told in a statement.


You ask for items, details of my early life--of genealogy and
parentage, particularly of the women of my ancestry, and of its
far-back Netherlands stock on the maternal side--of the region where
I was born and raised, and my mother and father before me, and theirs
before them--with a word about Brooklyn and New York cities, the times
I lived there as lad and young man. You say you want to get at these
details mainly as the go-befores and embryons of "Leaves of Grass."
Very good; you shall have at least some specimens of them all. I
have often thought of the meaning of such things--that one can only
encompass and complete matters of that kind by 'exploring behind,
perhaps very far behind, themselves directly, and so into their
genesis, antecedents, and cumulative stages. Then as luck would have
it, I lately whiled away the tedium of a week's half-sickness
and confinement, by collating these very items for another (yet
unfulfilled, probably abandon'd,) purpose; and if you will be
satisfied with them, authentic in date-occurrence and fact simply, and
told my own way, garrulous-like, here they are. I shall not hesitate
to make extracts, for I catch at anything to save labor; but those
will be the best versions of what I want to convey.


The later years of the last century found the Van Velsor family, my
mother's side, living on their own farm at Cold Spring, Long Island,
New York State, near the eastern edge of Queen's county, about a mile
from the harbor.[2] My father's side--probably the fifth generation
from the first English arrivals in New England--were at the same time
farmers on their own land--(and a fine domain it was, 500 acres, all
good soil, gently sloping east and south, about one-tenth woods,
plenty of grand old trees,) two or three miles off, at West Hills,
Suffolk county. The Whitman name in the Eastern States, and so branch
and South, starts undoubtedly from one John Whitman, born 1602, in Old
England, where he grew up, married, and his eldest son was born in
1629. He came over in the "True Love" in 1640 to America, and lived
in Weymouth, Mass., which place became the mother-hive of the
New-Englanders of the name; he died in 1692. His brother, Rev.
Zechariah Whitman, also came over in the "True Love," either at
that time or soon after, and lived at Milford, Conn. A son of this
Zechariah, named Joseph, migrated to Huntington, Long Island, and
permanently settled there. Savage's "Genealogical Dictionary" (vol.
iv, p. 524) gets the Whitman family establish'd at Huntington,
per this Joseph, before 1664. It is quite certain that from that
beginning, and from Joseph, the West Hill Whitmans, and all others in
Suffolk county, have since radiated, myself among the number. John and
Zechariah both went to England and back again divers times; they had
large families, and several of their children were born in the old
country. We hear of the father of John and Zechariah, Abijah Whitman,
who goes over into the 1500's, but we know little about him, except
that he also was for some time in America.

These old pedigree-reminiscences come up to me vividly from a visit I
made not long since (in my 63d year) to West Hills, and to the burial
grounds of my ancestry, both sides. I extract from notes of that
visit, written there and then:


[2] Long Island was settled first on the west end by the Dutch from
Holland, then on the east end by the English--the dividing line of the
two nationalities being a little west of Huntington where my father's
folks lived, and where I was born.


_July 29, 1881_.--After more than forty years' absence, (except a
brief visit, to take my father there once more, two years before he
died,) went down Long Island on a week' s jaunt to the place where
I was born, thirty miles from New York city. Rode around the old
familiar spots, viewing and pondering and dwelling long upon them,
every-thing coming back to me. Went to the old Whitman homestead on
the upland and took a view eastward, inclining south, over the broad
and beautiful farm lands of my grandfather (1780,) and my father.
There was the new house (1810,) the big oak a hundred and fifty or two
hundred years old; there the well, the sloping kitchen-garden, and
a little way off even the well-kept remains of the dwelling of my
great-grandfather (1750-'60) still standing, with its mighty timbers
and low ceilings. Near by, a stately grove of tall, vigorous
black-walnuts, beautiful, Apollo-like, the sons or grandsons, no
doubt, of black-walnuts during or before 1776. On the other side of
the road spread the famous apple orchard, over twenty acres, the trees
planted by hands long mouldering in the grave (my uncle Jesse's,) but
quite many of them evidently capable of throwing out their annual
blossoms and fruit yet.

I now write these lines seated on an old grave (doubtless of a
century since at least) on the burial hill of the Whitmans of many
generations. Fifty or more graves are quite plainly traceable, and
as many more decay'd out of all form--depress'd mounds, crumbled and
broken stones, cover'd with moss--the gray and sterile hill, the
clumps of chestnuts outside, the silence, just varied by the soughing
wind. There is always the deepest eloquence of sermon or poem in any
of these ancient graveyards of which Long Island has so many; so what
must this one have been to me? My whole family history, with its
succession of links, from the first settlement down to date, told
here--three centuries concentrate on this sterile acre.

The next day, July 30, I devoted to the maternal locality, and if
possible was still more penetrated and impress'd. I write this
paragraph on the burial hul of the Van Velsors, near Cold Spring,
the most significant depository of the dead that could be imagin'd,
without the slightest help from art, but far ahead of it, soil
sterile, a mostly bare plateau-flat of half an acre, the top of a
hill, brush and well grown trees and dense woods bordering all around,
very primi-tive, secluded, no visitors, no road (you cannot drive
here, you have to bring the dead on foot, and follow on foot.) Two or
three-score graves quite plain; as many more almost rubb'd out. My
grandfather Cornelius and my grandmother Amy (Naomi) and numerous
relatives nearer or remoter, on my mother's side, lie buried here. The
scene as I stood or sat, the delicate and wild odor of the woods, a
slightly drizzling rain, the emotional atmosphere of the place, and
the inferr'd reminiscences, were fitting accompaniments.


I went down from this ancient grave place eighty or ninety rods to the
site of the Van Velsor homestead, where my mother was born (1795,)
and where every spot had been familiar to me as a child and youth
(1825-'40.) Then stood there a long rambling, dark-gray, shingle-sided
house, with sheds, pens, a great barn, and much open road-space. Now
of all those not a vestige left; all had been pull'd down, erased,
and the plough and harrow pass'd over foundations, road-spaces and
everything, for many summers; fenced in at present, and grain and
clover growing like any other fine fields. Only a big hole from the
cellar, with some little heaps of broken stone, green with grass and
weeds, identified the place. Even the copious old brook and spring
seem'd to have mostly dwindled away. The whole scene, with what it
arous'd, memories of my young days there half a century ago, the vast
kitchen and ample fireplace and the sitting-room adjoining, the plain
furniture, the meals, the house full of merry people, my grandmother
Amy's sweet old face in its Quaker cap, my grandfather "the
Major," jovial, red, stout, with sonorous voice and characteristic
physiognomy, with the actual sights themselves, made the most
pronounc'd half-day's experience of my whole jaunt.

For there with all those wooded, hilly, healthy surroundings, my
dearest mother, Louisa Van Velsor, grew up--(her mother, Amy Williams,
of the Friends' or Quakers' denomination--the Williams family, seven
sisters and one brother--the father and brother sailors, both of whom
met their deaths at sea.) The Van Velsor people were noted for fine
horses, which the men bred and train'd from blooded stock. My mother,
as a young woman, was a daily and daring rider. As to the head of the
family himself, the old race of the Netherlands, so deeply grafted on
Manhattan island and in Kings and Queens counties, never yielded a
more mark'd and full Americanized specimen than Major Cornelius Van


Of the domestic and inside life of the middle of Long Island, at and
just before that time, here are two samples:

"The Whitmans, at the beginning of the present century, lived in a
long story-and-a-half farm-house, hugely timber'd, which is still
standing. A great smoke-canopied kitchen, with vast hearth and
chimney, form'd one end of the house. The existence of slavery in New
York at that time, and the possession by the family of some twelve
or fifteen slaves, house and field servants, gave things quite a
patriarchial look. The very young darkies could be seen, a swarm of
them, toward sundown, in this kitchen, squatted in a circle on the
floor, eating their supper of Indian pudding and milk. In the house,
and in food and furniture, all was rude, but substantial. No carpets
or stoves were known, and no coffee, and tea or sugar only for the
women. Rousing wood fires gave both warmth and light on winter nights.
Pork, poultry, beef, and all the ordinary vegetables and grains were
plentiful. Cider was the men's common drink, and used at meals. The
clothes were mainly homespun. Journeys were made by both men and women
on horseback. Both sexes labor'd with their own hands-the men on the
farm--the women in the house and around it. Books were scarce. The
annual copy of the almanac was a treat, and was pored over through the
long winter evenings. I must not forget to mention that both these
families were near enough to the sea to behold it from the high
places, and to hear in still hours the roar of the surf; the latter,
after a storm, giving a peculiar sound at night. Then all hands, male
and female, went down frequently on beach and bathing parties, and the
men on practical expeditions for cutting salt hay, and for clamming
and fishing."--_John Burroughs's_ NOTES.

"The ancestors of Walt Whitman, on both the paternal and maternal
sides, kept a good table, sustained the hospitalities, decorums, and
an excellent social reputation in the county, and they were often of
mark'd individuality. If space permitted, I should consider some of
the men worthy special description; and still more some of the women.
His great-grandmother on the paternal side, for instance, was a large
swarthy woman, who lived to a very old age. She smoked tobacco, rode
on horseback like a man, managed the most vicious horse, and, becoming
a widow in later life, went forth every day over her farm-lands,
frequently in the saddle, directing the labor of her slaves, in
language in which, on exciting occasions, oaths were not spared. The
two immediate grandmothers were, in the best sense, superior women.
The maternal one (Amy Williams before marriage) was a Friend, or
Quakeress, of sweet, sensible character, house-wifely proclivities,
and deeply intuitive and spiritual. The other (Hannah Brush,) was an
equally noble, perhaps stronger character, lived to be very old,
had quite a family of sons, was a natural lady, was in early life a
school-mistress, and had great solidity of mind. W. W. himself makes
much of the women of his ancestry."--_The Same_.

Out from these arrieres of persons and scenes, I was born May
31, 1819. And now to dwell awhile on the locality itself--as the
successive growth-stages of my infancy, childhood, youth and manhood
were all pass'd on Long Island, which I sometimes feel as if I had
incorporated. I roam'd, as boy and man, and have lived in nearly all
parts, from Brooklyn to Montauk point.


Worth fully and particularly investigating indeed this Paumanok, (to
give the spot its aboriginal name[3],) stretching east through Kings,
Queens and Suffolk counties, 120 miles altogether--on the north Long
Island sound, a beautiful, varied and picturesque series of inlets,
"necks" and sea-like expansions, for a hundred miles to Orient point.
On the ocean side the great south bay dotted with countless hummocks,
mostly small, some quite large, occasionally long bars of sand out two
hundred rods to a mile-and-a-half from the shore. While now and then,
as at Rockaway and far east along the Hamptons, the beach makes right
on the island, the sea dashing up without intervention. Several
light-houses on the shores east; a long history of wrecks tragedies,
some even of late years. As a youngster, I was in the atmosphere and
traditions of many of these wrecks--of one or two almost an observer.
Off Hempstead beach for example, was the loss of the ship "Mexico" in
1840, (alluded to in "the Sleepers" in L. of G.) And at Hampton,
some years later, the destruction of the brig "Elizabeth," a fearful
affair, in one of the worst winter gales, where Margaret Fuller went
down, with her husband and child.

Inside the outer bars or beach this south bay is everywhere
comparatively shallow; of cold winters all thick ice on the surface.
As a boy I often went forth with a chum or two, on those frozen
fields, with hand-sled, axe and eel-spear, after messes of eels. We
would cut holes in the ice, sometimes striking quite an eel-bonanza,
and filling our baskets with great, fat, sweet, white-meated fellows.
The scenes, the ice, drawing the hand-sled, cutting holes, spearing
the eels, &c., were of course just such fun as is dearest to boyhood.
The shores of this bay, winter and summer, and my doings there in
early life, are woven all through L. of G. One sport I was very fond
of was to go on a bay-party in summer to gather sea-gull's eggs. (The
gulls lay two or three eggs, more than half the size of hen's eggs,
right on the sand, and leave the sun's heat to hatch them.)

The eastern end of Long Island, the Peconic bay region, I knew quite
well too--sail'd more than once around Shelter island, and down to
Montauk--spent many an hour on Turtle hill by the old light-house,
on the extreme point, looking out over the ceaseless roll of the
Atlantic. I used to like to go down there and fraternize with the
blue-fishers, or the annual squads of sea-bass takers. Sometimes,
along Montauk peninsula, (it is some 15 miles long, and good grazing,)
met the strange, unkempt, half-barbarous herdsmen, at that time living
there entirely aloof from society or civilization, in charge, on those
rich pasturages, of vast droves of horses, kine or sheep, own'd by
farmers of the eastern towns. Sometimes, too, the few remaining
Indians, or half-breeds, at that period left on Montauk peninsula, but
now I believe altogether extinct.

More in the middle of the island were the spreading Hempstead plains,
then (1830-'40) quite prairie-like, open, uninhabited, rather sterile,
cover'd with kill-calf and huckleberry bushes, yet plenty of fair
pasture for the cattle, mostly milch-cows, who fed there by hundreds,
even thousands, and at evening, (the plains too were own'd by the
towns, and this was the use of them in common,) might be seen taking
their way home, branching off regularly in the right places. I have
often been out on the edges of these plains toward sundown, and can
yet recall in fancy the interminable cow-processions, and hear the
music of the tin or copper bells clanking far or near, and breathe
the cool of the sweet and slightly aromatic evening air, and note the

Through the same region of the island, but further east, extended
wide central tracts of pine and scrub-oak, (charcoal was largely made
here,) monotonous and sterile. But many a good day or half-day did
I have, wandering through those solitary crossroads, inhaling the
peculiar and wild aroma. Here, and all along the island and its
shores, I spent intervals many years, all seasons, sometimes riding,
sometimes boating, but generally afoot, (I was always then a good
walker,) absorbing fields, shores, marine incidents, characters, the
bay-men, farmers, pilots-always had a plentiful acquaintance with the
latter, and with fishermen--went every summer on sailing trips--always
liked the bare sea-beach, south side, and have some of my happiest
hours on it to this day.

As I write, the whole experience comes back to me after the lapse of
forty and more years--the soothing rustle of the waves, and the saline
smell--boyhood's times, the clam-digging, bare-foot, and with
trowsers roll'd up--hauling down the creek--the perfume of
the sedge-meadows--the hay-boat, and the chowder and fishing
excursions;--or, of later years, little voyages down and out New York
bay, in the pilot boats. Those same later years, also, while living in
Brooklyn, (1836-'50) I went regularly every week in the mild seasons
down to Coney Island, at that time a long, bare unfrequented shore,
which I had all to myself, and where I loved, after bathing, to race
up and down the hard sand, and declaim Homer or Shakspere to the surf
and sea gulls by the hour. But I am getting ahead too rapidly, and
must keep more in my traces.


[3] "Paumanok, (or Paumanake, or Paumanack, the Indian name of Long
Island,) over a hundred miles long; shaped like a fish--plenty of sea
shore, sandy, stormy, uninviting, the horizon boundless, the air too
strong for invalids, the bays a wonderful resort for aquatic birds,
the south-side meadows cover'd with salt hay, the soil of the island
generally tough, but good for the locust-tree, the apple orchard, and
the blackberry, and with numberless springs of the sweetest water in
the world. Years ago, among the bay-men--a strong, wild race, now
extinct, or rather entirely changed--a native of Long Island was
called a _Paumanacker_, or _Creole-'Paumanacker_."--_John Burroughs_.


From 1824 to '28 our family lived in Brooklyn in Front, Cranberry and
Johnson streets. In the latter my father built a nice house for a
home, and afterwards another in Tillary street. We occupied them, one
after the other, but they were mortgaged, and we lost them. I yet
remember Lafayette's visit.[4] Most of these years I went to the
public schools. It must have been about 1829 or '30 that I went with
my father and mother to hear Elias Hicks preach in a ball-room on
Brooklyn heights. At about the same time employ'd as a boy in an
office, lawyers', father and two sons, Clarke's, Fulton street, near
Orange. I had a nice desk and window-nook to myself; Edward C. kindly
help'd me at my handwriting and composition, and, (the signal event
of my life up to that time,) subscribed for me to a big circulating
library. For a time I now revel'd in romance-reading of all kinds;
first, the "Arabian Nights," all the volumes, an amazing treat. Then,
with sorties in very many other directions, took in Walter Scott's
novels, one after another, and his poetry, (and continue to enjoy
novels and poetry to this day.)


[4] "On the visit of General Lafayette to this country, in 1824,
he came over to Brooklyn in state, and rode through the city. The
children of the schools turn'd out to join in the welcome. An edifice
for a free public library for youths was just then commencing, and
Lafayette consented to stop on his way and lay the corner-stone.
Numerous children arriving on the ground, where a huge irregular
excavation for the building was already dug, surrounded with heaps of
rough stone, several gentlemen assisted in lifting the children
to safe or convenient spots to see the ceremony. Among the rest,
Lafayette, also helping the children, took up the five-year-old Walt
Whitman, and pressing the child a moment to his breast, and giving
him a kiss, handed him down to a safe spot in the excavation."--John


After about two years went to work in a weekly newspaper and printing
office, to learn the trade. The paper was the "Long Island Patriot,"
owned by S. E. Clements, who was also postmaster. An old printer in
the office, William Hartshorne, a revolutionary character, who had
seen Washington, was a special friend of mine, and I had many a talk
with him about long past times. The apprentices, including myself,
boarded with his grand-daughter. I used occasionally to go out riding
with the boss, who was very kind to us boys; Sundays he took us all to
a great old rough, fortress-looking stone church, on Joralemon street,
near where the Brooklyn city hall now is--(at that time broad fields
and country roads everywhere around.[5]) Afterward I work'd on the
"Long Island Star," Alden Spooner's paper. My father all these years
pursuing his trade as carpenter and builder, with varying fortune.
There was a growing family of children--eight of us--my brother Jesse
the oldest, myself the second, my dear sisters Mary and Hannah Louisa,
my brothers Andrew, George, Thomas Jefferson, and then my youngest
brother, Edward, born 1835, and always badly crippled, as I am myself
of late years.


[5] Of the Brooklyn of that time (1830-40) hardly anything remains,
except the lines of the old streets. The population was then between
ten and twelve thousand. For a mile Fulton street was lined with
magnificent elm trees. The character of the place was thoroughly
rural. As a sample of comparative values, it may be mention'd that
twenty-five acres in what is now the most costly part of the city,
bounded by Flatbush and Fulton avenues, were then bought by Mr
Parmentier, a French _emigre_, for $4000. Who remembers the old places
as they were? Who remembers the old citizens of that time? Among the
former were Smith & Wood's, Coe Downing's, and other public houses at
the ferry, the old Ferry itself, Love lane, the Heights as then, the
Wallabout with the wooden bridge, and the road out beyond Fulton
street to the old toll-gate. Among the latter were the majestic and
genial General Jeremiah Johnson, with others, Gabriel Furman, Rev.
E. M. Johnson, Alden Spooner, Mr. Pierrepont, Mr. Joralemon, Samuel
Willoughby, Jonathan Trotter, George Hall, Cyrus P. Smith, N. B.
Morse, John Dikeman, Adrian Hegeman, William Udall, and old Mr.
Duflon, with his military garden.


I develop'd (1833-4-5) into a healthy, strong youth (grew too fast,
though, was nearly as big as a man at 15 or 16.) Our family at this
period moved back to the country, my dear mother very ill for a long
time, but recover'd. All these years I was down Long Island more or
less every summer, now east, now west, sometimes months at a stretch.
At 16, 17, and so on, was fond of debating societies, and had an
active membership with them, off and on, in Brooklyn and one or two
country towns on the island. A most omnivorous novel-reader, these and
later years, devour'd everything I could get. Fond of the theatre,
also, in New York, went whenever I could--sometimes witnessing fine

1836-7, work'd as compositor in printing offices in New York city.
Then, when little more than 18, and for a while afterwards, went to
teaching country schools down in Queens and Suffolk counties, Long
Island, and "boarded round." (This latter I consider one of my best
experiences and deepest lessons in human nature behind the scenes and
in the masses.) In '39, '40, I started and publish'd a weekly paper
in my native town, Huntington. Then returning to New York city and
Brooklyn, work'd on as printer and writer, mostly prose, but an
occasional shy at "poetry".


Living in Brooklyn or New York city from this time forward, my life,
then, and still more the following years, was curiously identified
with Fulton ferry, already becoming the greatest of its sort in
the world for general importance, volume, variety, rapidity, and
picturesqueness. Almost daily, later, ('50 to '60,) I cross'd on the
boats, often up in the pilot-houses where I could get a full sweep,
absorbing shows, accompaniments, surroundings. What oceanic
currents, eddies, underneath--the great tides of humanity also, with
ever-shifting movements. Indeed, I have always had a passion for
ferries; to me they afford inimitable, streaming, never-failing,
living poems. The river and bay scenery, all about New York island,
any time of a fine day--the hurrying, splashing sea-tides--the
changing panorama of steamers, all sizes, often a string of big ones
outward bound to distant ports--the myriads of white-sail'd schooners,
sloops, skiffs, and the marvellously beautiful yachts--the majestic
sound boats as they rounded the Battery and came along towards 5,
afternoon, eastward bound--the prospect off towards Staten Island, or
down the Narrows, or the other way up the Hudson--what refreshment of
spirit such sights and experiences gave me years ago (and many a time
since.) My old pilot friends, the Balsirs, Johnny Cole, Ira Smith,
William White, and my young ferry friend, Tom Gere--how well I
remember them all.


Besides Fulton ferry, off and on for years, I knew and frequented
Broadway--that noted avenue of New York's crowded and mixed humanity,
and of so many notables. Here I saw, during those times, Andrew
Jackson, Webster, Clay, Seward, Martin Van Buren, filibuster Walker,
Kossuth, Fitz Greene Halleck, Bryant, the Prince of Wales, Charles
Dickens, the first Japanese ambassadors, and lots of other celebrities
of the time. Always something novel or inspiriting; yet mostly to me
the hurrying and vast amplitude of those never-ending human currents.
I remember seeing James Fenimore Cooper in a court-room in Chambers
street, back of the city hall, where he was carrying on a law case--(I
think it was a charge of libel he had brought against some one.) I
also remember seeing Edgar A. Poe, and having a short interview with
him, (it must have been in 1845 or '6,) in his office, second story of
a corner building, (Duane or Pearl street.) He was editor and owner or
part owner of "the Broadway Journal." The visit was about a piece of
mine he had publish'd. Poe was very cordial, in a quiet way, appear'd
well in person, dress, &c. I have a distinct and pleasing remembrance
of his looks, voice, manner and matter; very kindly and human, but
subdued, perhaps a little jaded. For another of my reminiscences, here
on the west side, just below Houston street, I once saw (it must have
been about 1832, of a sharp, bright January day) a bent, feeble but
stout-built very old man, bearded, swathed in rich furs, with a great
ermine cap on his head, led and assisted, almost carried, down the
steps of his high front stoop (a dozen friends and servants, emulous,
carefully holding, guiding him) and then lifted and tuck'd in a
gorgeous sleigh, envelop'd in other furs, for a ride. The sleigh was
drawn by as fine a team of horses as I ever saw. (You needn't
think all the best animals are brought up nowadays; never was such
horseflesh as fifty years ago on Long Island, or south, or in New York
city; folks look'd for spirit and mettle in a nag, not tame speed
merely.) Well, I, a boy of perhaps 13 or 14, stopp'd and gazed long at
the spectacle of that fur-swathed old man, surrounded by friends and
servants, and the careful seating of him in the sleigh. I remember
the spirited, champing horses, the driver with his whip, and a
fellow-driver by his side, for extra prudence. The old man, the
subject of so much attention, I can almost see now. It was John Jacob

The years 1846, '47, and there along, see me still in New York City,
working as writer and printer, having my usual good health, and a good
time generally.


One phase of those days must by no means go unrecorded--namely, the
Broadway omnibuses, with their drivers.

The vehicles still (I write this paragraph in 1881) give a portion
of the character of Broadway--the Fifth avenue, Madison avenue, and
Twenty-third street lines yet running. But the flush days of the
old Broadway stages, characteristic and copious, are over. The
Yellow-birds, the Red-birds, the original Broadway, the Fourth avenue,
the Knickerbocker, and a dozen others of twenty or thirty years ago,
are all gone. And the men specially identified with them, and giving
vitality and meaning to them--the drivers--a strange, natural,
quick-eyed and wondrous race--(not only Rabelais and Cervantes would
have gloated upon them, but Homer and Shakspere would)--how well I
remember them, and must here give a word about them. How many hours,
forenoons and afternoons--how many exhilarating night-times I have
had--perhaps June or July, in cooler air-riding the whole length of
Broadway, listening to some yarn, (and the most vivid yarns ever spun,
and the rarest mimicry)--or perhaps I declaiming some stormy passage
from Julius Caesar or Richard, (you could roar as loudly as you chose
in that heavy, dense, uninterrupted street-bass.) Yes, I knew all the
drivers then, Broadway Jack, Dressmaker, Balky Bill, George Storms,
Old Elephant, his brother Young Elephant (who came afterward,) Tippy,
Pop Rice, Big Frank, Yellow Joe, Pete Callahan, Patsey Dee, and dozens
more; for there were hundreds. They had immense qualities, largely
animal--eating, drinking; women--great personal pride, in their
way--perhaps a few slouches here and there, but I should have trusted
the general run of them, in their simple good-will and honor,
under all circumstances. Not only for comradeship, and sometimes
affection--great studies I found them also. (I suppose the critics
will laugh heartily, but the influence of those Broadway omnibus
jaunts and drivers and declamations and escapades undoubtedly enter'd
into the gestation of "Leaves of Grass.")


And certain actors and singers, had a good deal to do with the
business. All through these years, off and on, I frequented the old
Park, the Bowery, Broadway and Chatham-square theatres, and the
Italian operas at Chambers-street, Astor-place or the Battery--many
seasons was on the free list, writing for papers even as quite a
youth. The old Park theatre--what names, reminiscences, the words
bring back! Placide, Clarke, Mrs. Vernon, Fisher, Clara F., Mrs. Wood,
Mrs. Seguin, Ellen Tree, Hackett, the younger Kean, Macready, Mrs.
Richardson, Rice--singers, tragedians, comedians. What perfect
acting! Henry Placide in "Napoleon's Old Guard" or "Grandfather
Whitehead,"--or "the Provoked Husband" of Gibber, with Fanny Kemble
as Lady Townley--or Sheridan Knowles in his own "Virginius"--or
inimitable Power in "Born to Good Luck." These, and many more, the
years of youth and onward. Fanny Kemble--name to conjure up great
mimic scenes withal--perhaps the greatest. I remember well her
rendering of Bianca in "Fazio," and Marianna in "the Wife." Nothing
finer did ever stage exhibit--the veterans of all nations said so,
and my boyish heart and head felt it in every minute cell. The lady
was just matured, strong, better than merely beautiful, born from the
footlights, had had three years' practice in London and through the
British towns, and then she came to give America that young maturity
and roseate power in all their noon, or rather forenoon, flush. It was
my good luck to see her nearly every night she play'd at the old
Park--certainly in all her principal characters. I heard, these years,
well render'd, all the Italian and other operas in vogue, "Sonnambula,"
"the Puritans," "Der Freischutz," "Huguenots," "Fille d'Regiment,"
"Faust," "Etoile du Nord," "Poliuto," and others. Verdi's "Ernani,"
"Rigoletto," and "Trovatore," with Donnizetti's "Lucia" or "Favorita"
or "Lucrezia," and Auber's "Massaniello," or Rossini's "William Tell"
and "Gazza Ladra," were among my special enjoyments. I heard Alboni
every time she sang in New York and vicinity--also Grisi, the tenor
Mario, and the baritone Badiali, the finest in the world.

This musical passion follow'd my theatrical one. As a boy or young man
I had seen, (reading them carefully the day beforehand,) quite all
Shakspere's acting dramas, play'd wonderfully well. Even yet I cannot
conceive anything finer than old Booth in "Richard Third," or "Lear,"
(I don't know which was best,) or Iago, (or Pescara, or Sir
Giles Overreach, to go outside of Shakspere)--or Tom Hamblin in
"Macbeth"--or old Clarke, either as the ghost in "Hamlet," or as
Prospero in "the Tempest," with Mrs. Austin as Ariel, and Peter
Richings as Caliban. Then other dramas, and fine players in them,
Forrest as Metamora or Damon or Brutus--John R. Scott as Tom Cringle
or Rolla--or Charlotte Cushman's Lady Gay Spanker in "London
Assurance." Then of some years later, at Castle Garden, Battery, I
yet recall the splendid seasons of the Havana musical troupe under
Maretzek--the fine band, the cool sea-breezes, the unsurpass'd
vocalism--Steffan'one, Bosio, Truffi, Marini in "Marino Faliero," "Don
Pasquale," or "Favorita." No better playing or singing ever in New
York. It was here too I afterward heard Jenny Lind. (The Battery--its
past associations--what tales those old trees and walks and sea-walls
could tell!)


In 1848, '49, I was occupied as editor of the "daily Eagle" newspaper,
in Brooklyn. The latter year went off on a leisurely journey and
working expedition (my brother Jeff with me) through all the middle
States, and down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Lived awhile in New
Orleans, and work'd there on the editorial staff of "daily Crescent"
newspaper. After a time plodded back northward, up the Mississippi,
and around to, and by way of the great lakes, Michigan, Huron, and
Erie, to Niagara falls and lower Canada, finally returning through
central New York and down the Hudson; traveling altogether
probably 8,000 miles this trip, to and fro. '51, '53, occupied in
house-building in Brooklyn. (For a little of the first part of that
time in printing a daily and weekly paper, "the Freeman.") '55, lost
my dear father this year by death. Commenced putting "Leaves of Grass"
to press for good, at the job printing office of my friends, the
brothers Rome, in Brooklyn, after many MS. doings and undoings--(I had
great trouble in leaving out the stock "poetical" touches, but
succeeded at last.) I am now (1856-'7) passing through my 37th year.


To sum up the foregoing from the outset (and, of course, far, far more
unrecorded,) I estimate three leading sources and formative stamps to
my own character, now solidified for good or bad, and its subsequent
literary and other outgrowth--the maternal nativity-stock brought
hither from far-away Netherlands, for one, (doubtless the best)--the
subterranean tenacity and central bony structure (obstinacy,
wilfulness) which I get from my paternal English elements, for
another--and the combination of my Long Island birth-spot, sea-shores,
childhood's scenes, absorptions, with teeming Brooklyn and New York
--with, I suppose, my experiences afterward in the secession outbreak,
for the third.

For, in 1862, startled by news that my brother George, an officer
in the 51st New York volunteers, had been seriously wounded (first
Fredericksburg battle, December 13th,) I hurriedly went down to the
field of war in Virginia. But I must go back a little.


News of the attack on fort Sumter and _the flag_ at Charleston harbor,
S. C., was receiv'd in New York city late at night (13th April, 1861,)
and was immediately sent out in extras of the newspapers. I had
been to the opera in Fourteenth street that night, and after the
performance was walking down Broadway toward twelve o'clock, on my
way to Brooklyn, when I heard in the distance the loud cries of the
newsboys, who came presently tearing and yelling up the street,
rushing from side to side even more furiously than usual. I bought an
extra and cross'd to the Metropolitan hotel (Niblo's) where the great
lamps were still brightly blazing, and, with a crowd of others, who
gather'd impromptu, read the news, which was evidently authentic. For
the benefit of some who had no papers, one of us read the telegram
aloud, while all listen'd silently and attentively. No remark was made
by any of the crowd, which had increas'd to thirty or forty, but all
stood a minute or two, I remember, before they dispers'd. I can almost
see them there now, under the lamps at midnight again.


I have said somewhere that the three Presidentiads preceding 1861
show'd how the weakness and wickedness of rulers are just as eligible
here in America under republican, as in Europe under dynastic
influences. But what can I say of that prompt and splendid wrestling
with secession slavery, the arch-enemy personified, the instant he
unmistakably show'd his face? The volcanic upheaval of the nation,
after that firing on the flag at Charleston, proved for certain
something which had been previously in great doubt, and at once
substantially settled the question of disunion. In my judgment it will
remain as the grandest and most encouraging spectacle yet vouchsafed
in any age, old or new, to political progress and democracy. It
was not for what came to the surface merely--though that was
important--but what it indicated below, which was of eternal
importance. Down in the abysms of New World humanity there had form'd
and harden'd a primal hardpan of national Union will, determin'd and
in the majority, refusing to be tamper'd with or argued against,
confronting all emergencies, and capable at any time of bursting all
surface bonds, and breaking out like an earthquake. It is, indeed,
the best lesson of the century, or of America, and it is a mighty
privilege to have been part of it. (Two great spectacles, immortal
proofs of democracy, unequall'd in all the history of the past, are
furnish'd by the secession war--one at the beginning, the other at
its close. Those are, the general, voluntary, arm'd upheaval, and the
peaceful and harmonious disbanding of the armies in the summer of


Even after the bombardment of Sumter, however, the gravity of the
revolt, and the power and will of the slave States for a strong and
continued military resistance to national authority, were not at all
realized at the North, except by a few. Nine-tenths of the people
of the free States look'd upon the rebellion, as started in South
Carolina, from a feeling one-half of contempt, and the other half
composed of anger and incredulity. It was not thought it would be
join'd in by Virginia, North Carolina, or Georgia. A great and
cautious national official predicted that it would blow over "in sixty
days," and folks generally believ'd the prediction. I remember talking
about it on a Fulton ferry-boat with the Brooklyn mayor, who said he
only "hoped the Southern fire-eaters would commit some overt act of
resistance, as they would then be at once so effectually squelch'd,
we would never hear of secession again--but he was afraid they never
would have the pluck to really do anything."

I remember, too, that a couple of companies of the Thirteenth
Brooklyn, who rendezvou'd at the city armory, and started thence as
thirty days' men, were all provided with pieces of rope, conspicuously
tied to their musket-barrels, with which to bring back each man a
prisoner from the audacious South, to be led in a noose, on our men's
early and triumphant return!


All this sort of feeling was destin'd to be arrested and revers'd by
a terrible shock--the battle of first Bull Run--certainly, as we now
know it, one of the most singular fights on record. (All battles, and
their results, are far more matters of accident than is generally
thought; but this was throughout a casualty, a chance. Each side
supposed it had won, till the last moment. One had, in point of fact,
just the same right to be routed as the other. By a fiction, or series
of fictions, the national forces at the last moment exploded in a
panic and fled from the field.) The defeated troops commenced pouring
into Washington over the Long Bridge at daylight on Monday, 22d--day
drizzling all through with rain. The Saturday and Sunday of the battle
(20th, 21st,) had been parch'd and hot to an extreme--the dust, the
grime and smoke, in layers, sweated in, follow'd by other layers
again sweated in, absorb'd by those excited souls--their clothes all
saturated with the clay-powder filling the air--stirr'd up everywhere
on the dry roads and trodden fields by the regiments, swarming wagons,
artillery, &c.--all the men with this coating of murk and sweat and
rain, now recoiling back, pouring over the Long Bridge--a horrible
march of twenty miles, returning to Washington baffed, humiliated,
panic-struck. Where are the vaunts, and the proud boasts with which
you went forth? Where are your banners, and your bands of music, and
your ropes to bring back your prisoners? Well, there isn't a band
playing--and there isn't a flag but clings ashamed and lank to its

The sun rises, but shines not. The men appear, at first sparsely
and shame-faced enough, then thicker, in the streets of Washington
--appear in Pennsylvania avenue, and on the steps and basement
entrances. They come along in disorderly mobs, some in squads,
stragglers, companies. Occasionally, a rare regiment, in perfect
order, with its officers (some gaps, dead, the true braves,) marching
in silence, with lowering faces, stern, weary to sinking, all black
and dirty, but every man with his musket, and stepping alive; but
these are the exceptions. Sidewalks of Pennsylvania avenue, Fourteenth
street, &c., crowded, jamm'd with citizens, darkies, clerks,
everybody, lookers-on; women in the windows, curious expressions from
faces, as those swarms of dirt-cover'd return'd soldiers there (will
they never end?) move by; but nothing said, no comments; (half our
lookers-on secesh of the most venomous kind--they say nothing; but the
devil snickers in their faces.) During the forenoon Washington gets
all over motley with these defeated soldiers--queer-looking objects,
strange eyes and faces, drench'd (the steady rain drizzles on all
day) and fearfully worn, hungry, haggard, blister'd in the feet. Good
people (but not over-many of them either,) hurry up something for
their grub. They put wash-kettles on the fire, for soup, for coffee.
They set tables on the side-walks--wagon-loads of bread are purchas'd,
swiftly cut in stout chunks. Here are two aged ladies, beautiful, the
first in the city for culture and charm, they stand with store of
eating and drink at an improvis'd table of rough plank, and give food,
and have the store replenished from their house every half-hour
all that day; and there in the rain they stand, active, silent,
white-hair'd, and give food, though the tears stream down their
cheeks, almost without intermission, the whole time. Amid the deep
excitement, crowds and motion, and desperate eagerness, it seems
strange to see many, very many, of the soldiers sleeping--in the midst
of all, sleeping sound. They drop down anywhere, on the steps of
houses, up close by the basements or fences, on the sidewalk, aside on
some vacant lot, and deeply sleep. A poor 17 or 18 year old boy
lies there, on the stoop of a grand house; he sleeps so calmly, so
profoundly. Some clutch their muskets firmly even in sleep. Some in
squads; comrades, brothers, close together--and on them, as they lay,
sulkily drips the rain.

As afternoon pass'd, and evening came, the streets, the bar-rooms,
knots everywhere, listeners, questioners, terrible yarns, bugaboo,
mask'd batteries, our regiment all cut up, &c.--stories and
story-tellers, windy, bragging, vain centres of street-crowds.
Resolution, manliness, seem to have abandon'd Washington. The
principal hotel, Willard's, is full of shoulder-straps--thick,
crush'd, creeping with shoulder-straps. (I see them, and must have a
word with them. There you are, shoulder-straps!--but where are your
companies? where are your men? Incompetents! never tell me of chances
of battle, of getting stray'd, and the like. I think this is your
work, this retreat, after all. Sneak, blow, put on airs there in
Willard's sumptuous parlors and bar-rooms, or anywhere--no explanation
shall save you. Bull Run is your work; had you been half or one-tenth
worthy your men, this would never have happen'd.)

Meantime, in Washington, among the great persons and their entourage,
a mixture of awful consternation, uncertainty, rage, shame,
helplessness, and stupefying disappointment. The worst is not only
imminent, but already here. In a few hours--perhaps before the next
meal--the secesh generals, with their victorious hordes, will be upon
us. The dream of humanity, the vaunted Union we thought so strong,
so impregnable--lo! it seems already smash'd like a china plate. One
bitter, bitter hour--perhaps proud America will never again know
such an hour. She must pack and fly--no time to spare. Those white
palaces--the dome-crown'd capitol there on the hill, so stately over
the trees--shall they be left--or destroy'd first? For it is certain
that the talk among certain of the magnates and officers and clerks
and officials everywhere, for twenty-four hours in and around
Washington after Bull Run, was loud and undisguised for yielding out
and out, and substituting the southern rule, and Lincoln promptly
abdicating and departing. If the secesh officers and forces had
immediately follow'd, and by a bold Napoleonic movement had enter'd
Washington the first day, (or even the second,) they could have had
things their own way, and a powerful faction north to back them. One
of our returning colonels express'd in public that night, amid a swarm
of officers and gentlemen in a crowded room, the opinion that it was
useless to fight, that the southerners had made their title clear,
and that the best course for the national government to pursue was to
desist from any further attempt at stopping them, and admit them again
to the lead, on the best terms they were willing to grant. Not a voice
was rais'd against this judgment, amid that large crowd of officers
and gentlemen. (The fact is, the hour was one of the three or four of
those crises we had then and afterward, during the fluctuations of
four years, when human eyes appear'd at least just as likely to see
the last breath of the Union as to see it continue.)


But the hour, the day, the night pass'd, and whatever returns, an
hour, a day, a night like that can never again return. The President,
recovering himself, begins that very night--sternly, rapidly sets
about the task of reorganizing his forces, and placing himself in
positions for future and surer work. If there were nothing else of
Abraham Lincoln for history to stamp him with, it is enough to send
him with his wreath to the memory of all future time, that he endured
that hour, that day, bitterer than gall--indeed a crucifixion
day--that it did not conquer him--that he unflinchingly stemm'd it,
and resolv'd to lift himself and the Union out of it.

Then the great New York papers at once appear'd, (commencing that
evening, and following it up the next morning, and incessantly through
many days afterwards,) with leaders that rang out over the land with
the loudest, most reverberating ring of clearest bugles, full of
encouragement, hope, inspiration, unfaltering defiance; Those
magnificent editorials! they never flagg'd for a fortnight. The
"Herald" commenced them--I remember the articles well. The "Tribune"
was equally cogent and inspiriting--and the "Times," "Evening Post,"
and other principal papers, were not a whit behind. They came in good
time, for they were needed. For in the humiliation of Bull Run, the
popular feeling north, from its extreme of superciliousness, recoil'd
to the depth of gloom and apprehension.

(Of all the days of the war, there are two especially I can never
forget. Those were the day following the news, in New York and
Brooklyn, of that first Bull Run defeat, and the day of Abraham
Lincoln's death. I was home in Brooklyn on both occasions. The day
of the murder we heard the news very early in the morning. Mother
prepared breakfast--and other meals afterward--as usual; but not a
mouthful was eaten all day by either of us. We each drank half a cup
of coffee; that was all. Little was said. We got every newspaper
morning and evening, and the frequent extras of that period, and
pass'd them silently to each other.)


FALMOUTH, VA., _opposite Fredericksburgh, December 21, 1862_.--Begin my
visits among the camp hospitals in the army of the Potomac. Spend a good
part of the day in a large brick mansion on the banks of the Rappahannock,
used as a hospital since the battle--seems to have receiv'd only the
worst cases. Out doors, at the foot of a tree, within ten yards of the
front of the house, I notice a heap of amputated feet, legs, arms, hands,
&c., a full load for a one-horse cart. Several dead bodies lie near, each
cover'd with its brown woolen blanket. In the door-yard, towards the
river, are fresh graves, mostly of officers, their names on pieces of
arrel-staves or broken boards, stuck in the dirt. (Most of these bodies
were subsequently taken up and transported north to their friends.) The
large mansion is quite crowded upstairs and down, everything impromptu,
no system, all bad enough, but I have no doubt the best that can be done;
all the wounds pretty bad, some frightful, the men in their old clothes,
unclean and bloody. Some of the wounded are rebel soldiers and officers,
prisoners. One, a Mississippian, a captain, hit badly in leg, I talk'd
with some time; he ask'd me for papers, which I gave him. (I saw him
three months afterward in Washington, with his leg amputated, doing well.)
I went through the rooms, downstairs and up. Some of the men were dying.
I had nothing to give at that visit, but wrote a few letters to folks home,
mothers, &c. Also talk'd to three or four, who seem'd most susceptible to
it, and needing it.


_December 23 to 31_.--The results of the late battle are exhibited
everywhere about here in thousands of cases, (hundreds die every day,)
in the camp, brigade, and division hospitals. These are merely tents,
and sometimes very poor ones, the wounded lying on the ground, lucky
if their blankets are spread on layers of pine or hemlock twigs, or
small leaves. No cots; seldom even a mattress. It is pretty cold. The
ground is frozen hard, and there is occasional snow. I go around from
one case to another. I do not see that I do much good to these wounded
and dying; but I cannot leave them. Once in a while some youngster
holds on to me convulsively, and I do what I can for him; at any rate,
stop with him and sit near him for hours, if he wishes it.

Besides the hospitals, I also go occasionally on long tours through
the camps, talking with the men, &c. Sometimes at night among the
groups around the fires, in their shebang enclosures of bushes.
These are curious shows, full of characters and groups. I soon get
acquainted anywhere in camp, with officers or men, and am always well
used. Sometimes I go down on picket with the regiments I know best.
As to rations, the army here at present seems to be tolerably well
supplied, and the men have enough, such as it is, mainly salt pork
and hard tack. Most of the regiments lodge in the flimsy little
shelter-tents. A few have built themselves huts of logs and mud, with


_January, '63_.--Left camp at Falmouth, with some wounded, a few days
since, and came here by Aquia creek railroad, and so on government
steamer up the Potomac. Many wounded were with us on the cars and
boat. The cars were just common platform ones. The railroad journey
of ten or twelve miles was made mostly before sunrise. The soldiers
guarding the road came out from their tents or shebangs of bushes with
rumpled hair and half-awake look. Those on duty were walking their
posts, some on banks over us, others down far below the level of the
track. I saw large cavalry camps off the road. At Aquia creek landing
were numbers of wounded going north. While I waited some three hours,
I went around among them. Several wanted word sent home to parents,
brothers, wives, &c., which I did for them, (by mail the next day from
Washington.) On the boat I had my hands full. One poor fellow died
going up.

I am now remaining in and around Washington, daily visiting the
hospitals. Am much in Patent-office, Eighth street, H street,
Armory-square, and others. Am now able to do a little good, having
money, (as almoner of others home,) and getting experience. To-day,
Sunday afternoon and till nine in the evening, visited Campbell
hospital; attended specially to one case in ward I, very sick with
pleurisy and typhoid fever, young man, farmer's son, D. F. Russell,
company E, 60th New York, downhearted and feeble; a long time before
he would take any interest; wrote a letter home to his mother, in
Malone, Franklin county, N. Y., at his request; gave him some fruit
and one or two other gifts; envelop'd and directed his letter, &c.
Then went thoroughly through ward 6, observ'd every case in the ward,
without, I think, missing one; gave perhaps from twenty to thirty
persons, each one some little gift, such as oranges, apples, sweet
crackers, figs, &c.

_Thursday, Jan. 21._--Devoted the main part of the day to
Armory-square hospital; went pretty thoroughly through wards F, G,
H, and I; some fifty cases in each ward. In ward F supplied the men
throughout with writing paper and stamp'd envelope each; distributed
in small portions, to proper subjects, a large jar of first-rate
preserv'd berries, which had been donated to me by a lady--her own
cooking. Found several cases I thought good subjects for small sums of
money, which I furnish'd. (The wounded men often come up broke, and it
helps their spirits to have even the small sum I give them.) My paper
and envelopes all gone, but distributed a good lot of amusing reading
matter; also, as I thought judicious, tobacco, oranges, apples, &c.
Interesting cases in ward I; Charles Miller, bed 19, company D, 53d
Pennsylvania, is only 16 years of age, very bright, courageous boy,
left leg amputated below the knee; next bed to him, another young
lad very sick; gave each appropriate gifts. In the bed above, also,
amputation of the left leg; gave him a little jar of raspberries; bed
J, this ward, gave a small sum; also to a soldier on crutches, sitting
on his bed near.... (I am more and more surprised at the very great
proportion of youngsters from fifteen to twenty-one in the army. I
afterwards found a still greater proportion among the southerners.)

Evening, same day, went to see D. F. R., before alluded to; found him
remarkably changed for the better; up and dress'd--quite a triumph; he
afterwards got well, and went back to his regiment.

Distributed in the wards a quantity of note-paper, and forty or fifty
stamp'd envelopes, of which I had recruited my stock, and the men were
much in need.


Here is a case of a soldier I found among the crowded cots in the
Patent-office. He likes to have some one to talk to, and we will
listen to him. He got badly hit in his leg and side at Fredericksburgh
that eventful Saturday, 13th of December. He lay the succeeding two
days and nights helpless on the field, between the city and those grim
terraces of batteries; his company and regiment had been compell'd to
leave him to his fate. To make matters worse, it happen'd he lay with
his head slightly down hill, and could not help himself. At the end of
some fifty hours he was brought off, with other wounded, under a flag
of truce. I ask him how the rebels treated him as he lay during
those two days and nights within reach of them--whether they came to
him--whether they abused him? He answers that several of the rebels,
soldiers and others, came to him at one time and another. A couple of
them, who were together, spoke roughly and sarcastically, but nothing
worse. One middle-aged man, however, who seem'd to be moving around
the field, among the dead and wounded, for benevolent purposes, came
to him in a way he will never forget; treated our soldier kindly,
bound up his wounds, cheer'd him, gave him a couple of biscuits and a
drink of whiskey and water; asked him if he could eat some beef. This
good secesh, however, did not change our soldier's position, for it
might have caused the blood to burst from the wounds, clotted and
stagnated. Our soldier is from Pennsylvania; has had a pretty severe
time; the wounds proved to be bad ones. But he retains a good heart,
and is at present on the gain. (It is not uncommon for the men to
remain on the field this way, one, two, or even four or five days.)


_Letter Writing_.--When eligible, I encourage the men to write,
and myself, when called upon, write all sorts of letters for them
(including love letters, very tender ones.) Almost as I reel off these
memoranda, I write for a new patient to his wife. M. de F., of the
17th Connecticut, company H, has just come up (February 17th) from
Windmill point, and is received in ward H, Armory-square. He is an
intelligent looking man, has a foreign accent, black-eyed and hair'd,
a Hebraic appearance. Wants a telegraphic message sent to his wife,
New Canaan, Conn. I agree to send the message--but to make things sure
I also sit down and write the wife a letter, and despatch it to the
post-office immediately, as he fears she will come on, and he does not
wish her to, as he will surely get well.

_Saturday, January 30th._--Afternoon, visited Campbell hospital. Scene
of cleaning up the ward, and giving the men all clean clothes--through
the ward (6) the patients dressing or being dress'd--the naked upper
half of the bodies--the good-humor and fun--the shirts, drawers,
sheets of beds, &c., and the general fixing up for Sunday. Gave J. L.
50 cents.

_Wednesday, February 4th._--Visited Armory-square hospital, went
pretty thoroughly through wards E and D. Supplied paper and envelopes
to all who wish'd--as usual, found plenty of men who needed those
articles. Wrote letters. Saw and talk'd with two or three members of
the Brooklyn 14th regt. A poor fellow in ward D, with a fearful wound
in a fearful condition, was having some loose splinters of bone taken
from the neighborhood of the wound. The operation was long, and one of
great pain--yet, after it was well commenced, the soldier bore it in
silence. He sat up, propp'd--was much wasted--had lain a long time
quiet in one position (not for days only but weeks,) a bloodless,
brown-skinn'd face, with eyes full of determination--belong'd to a
New York regiment. There was an unusual cluster of surgeons, medical
cadets, nurses, &c., around his bed--I thought the whole thing was
done with tenderness, and done well. In one case, the wife sat by
the side of her husband, his sickness typhoid fever, pretty bad. In
another, by the side of her son, a mother--she told me she had seven
children, and this was the youngest. (A fine, kind, healthy, gentle
mother, good-looking, not very old, with a cap on her head, and
dress'd like home--what a charm it gave to the whole ward.) I liked
the woman nurse in ward E--I noticed how she sat a long time by a poor
fellow who just had, that morning, in addition to his other sickness,
bad hemorrhage--she gently assisted him, reliev'd him of the blood,
holding a cloth to his mouth, as he coughed it up--he was so weak he
could only just turn his head over on the pillow.

One young New York man, with a bright, handsome face, had been lying
several months from a most disagreeable wound, receiv'd at Bull Run.
A bullet had shot him right through the bladder, hitting him front,
low in the belly, and coming out back. He had suffer'd much--the
water came out of the wound, by slow but steady quantities, for many
weeks--so that he lay almost constantly in a sort of puddle--and there
were other disagreeable circumstances. He was of good heart, however.
At present comparatively comfortable, had a bad throat, was delighted
with a stick of horehound candy I gave him, with one or two other


_February 23._--I must not let the great hospital at the Patent-office
pass away without some mention. A few weeks ago the vast area of the
second story of that noblest of Washington buildings was crowded close
with rows of sick, badly wounded and dying soldiers. They were placed
in three very large apartments. I went there many times. It was a
strange, solemn, and, with all its features of suffering and death,
a sort of fascinating sight. I go sometimes at night to soothe and
relieve particular cases. Two of the immense apartments are fill'd
with high and ponderous glass cases, crowded with models in miniature
of every kind of utensil, machine or invention, it ever enter'd
into the mind of man to conceive; and with curiosities and foreign
presents. Between these cases are lateral openings, perhaps eight feet
wide and quite deep, and in these were placed the sick, besides a
great long double row of them up and down through the middle of the
hall. Many of them were very bad cases, wounds and amputations. Then
there was a gallery running above the hall in which there were beds
also. It was, indeed, a curious scene, especially at night when lit
up. The glass cases, the beds, the forms lying there, the gallery
above, and the marble pavement under foot--the suffering, and the
fortitude to bear it in various degrees--occasionally, from some, the
groan that could not be repress'd--sometimes a poor fellow dying, with
emaciated face and glassy eye, the nurse by his side, the doctor also
there, but no friend, no relative--such were the sights but lately in
the Patent-office. (The wounded have since been removed from there,
and it is now vacant again.)


_February 24th._--A spell of fine soft weather. I wander about a good
deal, sometimes at night under the moon. Tonight took a long look at
the President's house. The white portico--the palace-like, tall,
round columns, spotless as snow--the walls also--the tender and
soft moonlight, flooding the pale marble, and making peculiar faint
languishing shades, not shadows--everywhere a soft transparent
hazy, thin, blue moon-lace, hanging in the air--the brilliant and
extra-plentiful clusters of gas, on and around the facade, columns,
portico, &c.--everything so white, so marbly pure and dazzling, yet
soft--the White House of future poems, and of dreams and dramas, there
in the soft and copious moon--the gorgeous front, in the trees, under
the lustrous flooding moon, full of realty, full of illusion--the
forms of the trees, leafless, silent, in trunk and myriad--angles of
branches, under the stars and sky--the White House of the land, and of
beauty and night--sentries at the gates, and by the portico, silent,
pacing there in blue overcoats--stopping you not at all, but eyeing
you with sharp eyes, whichever way you move.


Let me specialize a visit I made to the collection of barrack-like
one-story edifices, Campbell hospital, out on the flats, at the end
of the then horse railway route, on Seventh street. There is a
long building appropriated to each ward. Let us go into ward 6. It
contains, to-day, I should judge, eighty or a hundred patients,
half sick, half wounded. The edifice is nothing but boards, well
whitewash'd inside, and the usual slender-framed iron bedsteads,
narrow and plain. You walk down the central passage, with a row on
either side, their feet towards you, and their heads to the wall.
There are fires in large stoves, and the prevailing white of the
walls is reliev'd by some ornaments, stars, circles, &c., made of
evergreens. The view of the whole edifice and occupants can be taken
at once, for there is no partition. You may hear groans or other
sounds of unendurable suffering from two or three of the cots, but in
the main there is quiet--almost a painful absence of demonstration;
but the pallid face, the dull'd eye, and the moisture of the lip, are
demonstration enough. Most of these sick or hurt are evidently young
fellows from the country, farmers' sons, and such like. Look at the
fine large frames, the bright and broad countenances, and the many
yet lingering proofs of strong constitution and physique. Look at the
patient and mute manner of our American wounded as they lie in such
a sad collection; representatives from all New England, and from New
York, and New Jersey, and Pennsylvania--indeed from all the States
and all the cities--largely from the west. Most of them are entirely
without friends or acquaintances here--no familiar face, and hardly a
word of judicious sympathy or cheer, through their sometimes long and
tedious sickness, or the pangs of aggravated wounds.


This young man in bed 25 is H. D. B. of the 27th Connecticut, company
B. His folks live at Northford, near New Haven. Though not more than
twenty-one, or thereabouts, he has knock'd much around the world, on
sea and land, and has seen some fighting on both. When I first saw him
he was very sick, with no appetite. He declined offers of money--said
he did not need anything. As I was quite anxious to do something,
he confess'd that he had a hankering for a good home-made rice
pudding--thought he could relish it better than anything. At this
time his stomach was very weak. (The doctor, whom I consulted, said
nourishment would do him more good than anything; but things in the
hospital, though better than usual, revolted him.) I soon procured B.
his rice pudding. A Washington lady, (Mrs. O'C.), hearing his wish,
made the pudding herself, and I took it up to him the next day. He
subsequently told me he lived upon it for three or four days. This
B. is a good sample of the American eastern young man--the typical
Yankee. I took a fancy to him, and gave him a nice pipe for a
keepsake. He receiv'd afterwards a box of things from home, and
nothing would do but I must take dinner with him, which I did, and a
very good one it was.


Here in this same ward are two young men from Brooklyn, members of the
51st New York. I had known both the two as young lads at home, so they
seem near to me. One of them, J. L., lies there with an amputated
arm, the stump healing pretty well. (I saw him lying on the ground
at Fredericksburgh last December, all bloody, just after the arm was
taken off. He was very phlegmatic about it, munching away at a cracker
in the remaining hand--made no fuss.) He will recover, and thinks and
talks yet of meeting Johnny Rebs.


The grand soldiers are not comprised in those of one side, any more
than the other. Here is a sample of an unknown southerner, a lad
of seventeen. At the War department, a few days ago, I witness'd
a presentation of captured flags to the Secretary. Among others a
soldier named Gant, of the 104th Ohio volunteers, presented a rebel
battle-flag, which one of the officers stated to me was borne to the
mouth of our cannon and planted there by a boy but seventeen years
of age, who actually endeavor'd to stop the muzzle of the gun with
fence-rails. He was kill'd in the effort, and the flag-staff was
sever'd by a shot from one of our men.


_May '63_.--As I write this, the wounded have begun to arrive from
Hooker's command from bloody Chancellorsville. I was down among the
first arrivals. The men in charge told me the bad cases were yet to
come. If that is so I pity them, for these are bad enough. You ought
to see the scene of the wounded arriving at the landing here at the
foot of Sixth street, at night. Two boat loads came about half-past
seven last night. A little after eight it rain'd a long and violent
shower. The pale, helpless soldiers had been debark'd, and lay around
on the wharf and neighborhood anywhere. The rain was, probably,
grateful to them; at any rate they were exposed to it. The few torches
light up the spectacle. All around--on the wharf, on the ground, out
on side places--the men are lying on blankets, old quilts, &c., with
bloody rags bound round heads, arms, and legs. The attendants are few,
and at night few outsiders also--only a few hard-work'd transportation
men and drivers. (The wounded are getting to be common, and people
grow callous.) The men, whatever their condition, lie there, and
patiently wait till their turn comes to be taken up. Near by, the
ambulances are now arriving in clusters, and one after another is
call'd to back up and take its load. Extreme cases are sent off on
stretchers. The men generally make little or no ado, whatever their
sufferings. A few groans that cannot be suppress'd, and occasionally
a scream of pain as they lift a man into the ambulance. To-day, as
I write, hundreds more are expected, and to-morrow and the next day
more, and so on for many days. Quite often they arrive at the rate of
1000 a day.


_May 12_.--There was part of the late battle at Chancellorsville,
(second Fredericksburgh,) a little over a week ago, Saturday, Saturday
night and Sunday, under Gen. Joe Hooker, I would like to give just a
glimpse of--(a moment's look in a terrible storm at sea--of which a
few suggestions are enough, and full details impossible.) The fighting
had been very hot during the day, and after an intermission the latter
part, was resumed at night, and kept up with furious energy till 3
o'clock in the morning. That afternoon (Saturday) an attack sudden
and strong by Stonewall Jackson had gain'd a great advantage to the
southern army, and broken our lines, entering us like a wedge, and
leaving things in that position at dark. But Hooker at 11 at night
made a desperate push, drove the secesh forces back, restored his
original lines, and resumed his plans. This night scrimmage was very
exciting, and afforded countless strange and fearful pictures. The
fighting had been general both at Chancellorsville and northeast at
Fredericksburgh. (We hear of some poor fighting, episodes, skedaddling
on our part. I think not of it. I think of the fierce bravery, the
general rule.) One corps, the 6th, Sedgewick's, fights four dashing
and bloody battles in thirty-six hours, retreating in great jeopardy,
losing largely but maintaining itself, fighting with the sternest
desperation under all circumstances, getting over the Rappahannock
only by the skin of its teeth, yet getting over. It lost many, many
brave men, yet it took vengeance, ample vengeance.

But it was the tug of Saturday evening, and through the night and
Sunday morning, I wanted to make a special note of. It was largely
in the woods, and quite a general engagement. The night was very
pleasant, at times the moon shining out full and clear, all Nature so
calm in itself, the early summer grass so rich, and foliage of the
trees--yet there the battle raging, and many good fellows lying
helpless, with new accessions to them, and every minute amid the
rattle of muskets and crash of cannon, (for there was an artillery
contest too,) the red life-blood oozing out from heads or trunks or
limbs upon that green and dew-cool grass. Patches of the woods take
fire, and several of the wounded, unable to move, are consumed--quite
large spaces are swept over, burning the dead also--some of the men
have their hair and beards singed--some, burns on their faces and
hands--others holes burnt in their clothing. The flashes of fire
from the cannon, the quick flaring flames and smoke, and the immense
roar--the musketry so general, the light nearly bright enough for
each side to see the other--the crashing, tramping of men--the
yelling--close quarters--we hear the secesh yells--our men cheer
loudly back, especially if Hooker is in sight--hand to hand conflicts,
each side stands up to it, brave, determin'd as demons, they often
charge upon us--a thousand deeds are done worth to write newer greater
poems on--and still the woods on fire--still many are not only
scorch'd--too many, unable to move, are burned to death.

Then the camps of the wounded--O heavens, what scene is this?--is
this indeed _humanity_--these butchers' shambles? There are
several of them. There they lie, in the largest, in an open space in
the woods, from 200 to 300 poor fellows--the groans and screams--the
odor of blood, mixed with the fresh scent of the night, the grass, the
trees--that slaughter-house! O well is it their mothers, their sisters
cannot see them--cannot conceive, and never conceiv'd, these things.
One man is shot by a shell, both in the arm and leg--both are
amputated--there lie the rejected members. Some have their legs blown
off--some bullets through the breast--some indescribably horrid wounds
in the face or head, all mutilated, sickening, torn, gouged out--some
in the abdomen--some mere boys--many rebels, badly hurt--they take
their regular turns with the rest, just the same as any--the surgeons
use them just the same. Such is the camp of the wounded--such a
fragment, a reflection afar off of the bloody scene--while all over
the clear, large moon comes out at times softly, quietly shining. Amid
the woods, that scene of flitting souls--amid the crack and crash
and yelling sounds--the impalpable perfume of the woods--and yet the
pungent, stifling smoke--the radiance of the moon, looking from heaven
at intervals so placid--the sky so heavenly the clear-obscure up
there, those buoyant upper oceans--a few large placid stars beyond,
coming silently and languidly out, and then disappearing--the
melancholy, draperied night above, around. And there, upon the roads,
the fields, and in those woods, that contest, never one more desperate
in any age or land--both parties now in force--masses--no fancy
battle, no semi-play, but fierce and savage demons fighting
there--courage and scorn of death the rule, exceptions almost none.

What history, I say, can ever give--for who can know--the mad,
determin'd tussle of the armies, in all their separate large and
little squads--as this--each steep'd from crown to toe in desperate,
mortal purports? Who know the conflict, hand-to-hand--the many
conflicts in the dark, those shadowy-tangled, flashing moonbeam'd
woods--the writhing groups and squads--the cries, the din, the
cracking guns and pistols--the distant cannon--the cheers and calls
and threats and awful music of the oaths--the indescribable mix--the
officers' orders, persuasions, encouragements--the devils fully rous'd
in human hearts--the strong shout, _Charge, men, charge_--the flash
of the naked sword, and rolling flame and smoke? And still the broken,
clear and clouded heaven--and still again the moonlight pouring
silvery soft its radiant patches over all. Who paint the scene,
the sudden partial panic of the afternoon, at dusk? Who paint the
irrepressible advance of the second division of the Third corps, under
Hooker himself, suddenly order'd up--those rapid-filing phantoms
through the woods? Who show what moves there in the shadows, fluid and
firm--to save, (and it did save,) the army's name, perhaps the nation?
as there the veterans hold the field. (Brave Berry falls not yet--but
death has mark'd him--soon he falls.)


Of scenes like these, I say, who writes--whoe'er can write the story?
Of many a score--aye, thousands, north and south, of unwrit heroes,
unknown heroisms, incredible, impromptu, first-class desperations--who
tells? No history ever--no poem sings, no music sounds, those bravest
men of all--those deeds. No formal general's report, nor book in the
library, norcolumn in the paper, embalms the bravest, north or south,
east or west. Unnamed, unknown, remain, and still remain, the bravest
soldiers. Our manliest--our boys--our hardy darlings; no picture gives
them. Likely, the typic one of them (standing, no doubt, for hundreds,
thousands,) crawls aside to some bush-clump, or ferny tuft, on
receiving his death-shot--there sheltering a little while, soaking
roots, grass and soil, with red blood--the battle advances, retreats,
flits from the scene, sweeps by--and there, haply with pain and
suffering (yet less, far less, than is supposed,) the last lethargy
winds like a serpent round him--the eyes glaze in death----none
recks--perhaps the burial-squads, in truce, a week afterwards, search
not the secluded spot--and there, at last, the Bravest Soldier
crumbles in mother earth, unburied and unknown.


_June 18th_.--In one of the hospitals I find Thomas Haley, company M,
4th New York cavalry--a regular Irish boy, a fine specimen of youthful
physical manliness--shot through the lungs--inevitably dying--came
over to this country from Ireland to enlist--has not a single friend
or acquaintance here--is sleeping soundly at this moment, (but it is
the sleep of death)--has a bullet-hole straight through the lung. I
saw Tom when first brought here, three days since, and didn't suppose
he could live twelve hours--(yet he looks well enough in the face to
a casual observer.) He lies there with his frame exposed above the
waist, all naked, for coolness, a fine built man, the tan not yet
bleach'd from his cheeks and neck. It is useless to talk to him, as
with his sad hurt, and the stimulants they give him, and the utter
strangeness of every object, face, furniture, &c., the poor fellow,
even when awake, is like some frighten'd, shy animal. Much of the time
he sleeps, or half sleeps. (Sometimes I thought he knew more than
he show'd.) I often come and sit by him in perfect silence; he will
breathe for ten minutes as softly and evenly as a young babe asleep.
Poor youth, so handsome, athletic, with profuse beautiful shining
hair. One time as I sat looking at him while he lay asleep, he
suddenly, without the least start, awaken'd, open'd his eyes, gave me
a long steady look, turning his face very slightly to gaze easier--one
long, clear, silent look--a slight sigh--then turn'd back and went
into his doze again. Little he knew, poor death-stricken boy, the
heart of the stranger that hover'd near.

_W.H.E., Co. F, 2nd N.Y._--His disease is pneumonia. He lay sick at
the wretched hospital below Aquia creek, for seven or eight days
before brought here. He was detail'd from his regiment to go there
and help as nurse, but was soon taken down himself. Is an elderly,
sallow-faced, rather gaunt, gray-hair'd man, a widower, with children.
He express'd a great desire for good, strong green tea. An excellent
lady, Mrs. W., of Washington, soon sent him a package; also a small
sum of money. The doctor said give him the tea at pleasure; it lay
on the table by his side, and he used it every day. He slept a great
deal; could not talk much, as he grew deaf. Occupied bed 15, ward I,
Armory. (The same lady above, Mrs. W., sent the men a large package of

J. G. lies in bed 52, ward I; is of company B, 7th Pennsylvania. I
gave him a small sum of money, some tobacco, and envelopes. To a man
adjoining also gave twenty-five cents; he flush'd in the face when I
offer'd it--refused at first, but as I found he had not a cent, and
was very fond of having the daily papers to read, I prest it on him.
He was evidently very grateful, but said little.

J.T.L., of company F, 9th New Hampshire, lies in bed 37, ward I. Is
very fond of tobacco. I furnish him some; also with a little money.
Has gangrene of the feet; a pretty bad case; will surely have to lose
three toes. Is a regular specimen of an old-fashion'd, rude, hearty,
New England countryman, impressing me with his likeness to that
celebrated singed cat, who was better than she look'd.

Bed 3, ward E, Armory, has a great hankering for pickles, something
pungent. After consulting the doctor, I gave him a small bottle of
horse-radish; also some apples; also a book. Some of the nurses are
excellent. The woman-nurse in this ward I like very much. (Mrs.
Wright--a year afterwards I found her in Mansion house hospital,
Alexandria--she is a perfect nurse.)

In one bed a young man, Marcus Small, company K, 7th Maine--sick with
dysentery and typhoid fever--pretty critical case--I talk with him
often--he thinks he will die--looks like it indeed. I write a letter
for him home to East Livermore, Maine--I let him talk to me a little,
but not much, advise him to keep very quiet--do most of the talking
myself--stay quite a while with him, as he holds on to my hand--talk
to him in a cheering, but slow, low and measured manner--talk about
his furlough, and going home as soon as he is able to travel.

Thomas Lindly, 1st Pennsylvania cavalry, shot very badly through the
foot--poor young man, he suffers horridly, has to be constantly dosed
with morphine, his face ashy and glazed, bright young eyes--I give him
a large handsome apple, lay it in sight, tell him to have it roasted
in the morning, as he generally feels easier then, and can eat a
little breakfast. I write two letters for him.

Opposite, an old Quaker lady sits by the side of her son, Amer Moore,
2d U. S. artillery--shot in the head two weeks since, very low, quite
rational--from hips down paralyzed--he will surely die. I speak a very
few words to him every day and evening--he answers pleasantly--wants
nothing--(he told me soon after he came about his home affairs,
his mother had been an invalid, and he fear'd to let her know his
condition.) He died soon after she came.


In my visits to the hospitals I found it was in the simple matter of
personal presence, and emanating ordinary cheer and magnetism, that I
succeeded and help'd more than by medical nursing, or delicacies,
or gifts of money, or anything else. During the war I possess'd the
perfection of physical health. My habit, when practicable, was to
prepare for starting out on one of those daily or nightly tours
of from a couple to four or five hours, by fortifying myself with
previous rest, the bath, clean clothes, a good meal, and as cheerful
an appearance as possible.


_June 23, Sundown._--As I sit writing this paragraph I see a train of
about thirty huge four-horse wagons, used as ambulances, fill'd with
wounded, passing up Fourteenth street, on their way, probably, to
Columbian, Carver, and Mount Pleasant hospitals. This is the way the
men come in now, seldom in small numbers, but almost always in these
long, sad processions. Through the past winter, while our army lay
opposite Fredericksburg, the like strings of ambulances were of
frequent occurrence along Seventh street, passing slowly up from the
steamboat wharf, with loads from Aquia creek.


The soldiers are nearly all young men, and far more American than is
generally supposed--I should say nine-tenths are native-born. Among
the arrivals from Chancellorsville I find a large proportion of Ohio,
Indiana, and Illinois men. As usual, there are all sorts of wounds.
Some of the men fearfully burnt from the explosions of artillery
caissons. One ward has a long row of officers, some with ugly hurts.
Yesterday was perhaps worse than usual. Amputations are going on--the
attendants are dressing wounds. As you pass by, you must be on your
guard where you look. I saw the other day a gentlemen, a visitor
apparently from curiosity, in one of the wards, stop and turn a moment

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