Front Cover
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Editor's note

Title: Autobiographia, or, The story of a life
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00080543/00001
 Material Information
Title: Autobiographia, or, The story of a life
Physical Description: vii p., 1 l., 11-205 p. front. 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Whitman, Walt 1819-1892 ( Author, Primary )
Stedman, Arthur 1859-1908 ( Editor )
Publisher: Charles L. Webster and Co.
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1892
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00080543
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
        Frontispiece 1
        Frontispiece 2
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Editor's note
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
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Full Text


fiction, fact, anb fancl slerie


Section, -act, anb Sancy CSrirs.

Other Volumes to be Announced.

Bound in Illuminated Cloth, each, 75 Cents.
*** For Sale by all Booksellers, or sent fos/laid, on re-
celpt of price, by the Publishers,






Newm Work

Copyright, 1875, 1882, 1888,
and 1891,

Copyright, 1892,
(All rights reserved.)



WALT WHITMAN'S death finally came as a surprise
to his friends. Only two months before it took place
Mr. John Burroughs had written to a correspondent,
" I have repeatedly said that he would outlive us all ;"
and this was the belief of those who had observed the
good, gray poet's recovery from so many serious attacks
of illness.
When I visited Camden, with the purpose of gaining
his consent to eclectic editions of his poems and prose,
the task seemed hopeless. The publication of a volume
of selections from Leaves of Grass had often been urged
upon Mr. Whitman, but he never could bring himself
to permit it. I should be ungrateful, indeed, were I
not to acknowledge here the hearty cooperation afford-
ed me by Mr. Horace L. Traubel, of Camden, in achiev-
ing this object. It is well known that he has been for
some years the poet's chief friend and assistant in the
latter's literary affairs, besides organizing and conduct-
ing arrangements for the invalid's personal comfort.
I found that Mr. Traubel himself had in mind a vol-
ume of prose selections similar to the one now pub-


lished, but he cordially entered into my plans, and
presented me with his intended title, Autobiografhia.
As in the case of Selected Poems, the plan of this
book was approved by Mr. Whitman, but, as in that
case also, death prevented his examining the completed
work. The sole responsibility for these selections,
therefore, rests with the editor, whose purpose has been
to give a consecutive account of the poet's life in his
own characteristic language.
Specimen Days, of course, forms the basis of the
book, and I have added in their proper order passages
from the author's later volumes, November Boughs and
Good Bye my Fancy. By this means a very fair view of
his life is afforded. It has not seemed necessary to in-
dicate the frequent omissions from Specimen Days.
These passages have been cut out as not directly bear-
ing on the story of his career, or as duplicating similar
experiences beyond the limits of this volume.
Memoranda During the War, including all of the
author's hospital diary here given, was published as a
separate volume in 1875, and afterward as a portion of
Specimen Days (1883). The nature-notes and much of
the travel-notes first appeared in The Critic and the
New York Tribune, which journals, with the old Galaxy
(published by William C. and Frank P. Church) ac-
cepted almost every poem and article offered them by
Walt Whitman.


The poet's prose style, for the most part, is conver-
sational and loosely written or elaborately involved.
In the opening paragraph of Sfecimen Days the author
hints at his lack of strength to revise what follows,
and criticism may therefore be deprecated. That
he could write effective prose, when willing to take
pains, and when not writing by theory, can be seen by
the following extract from the preface to Two Rivulets
(1876): As I write these lines, it is again early sum-
mer-again my birthday-now my fifty-sixth. Amid
the outside beauty and freshness, the sunlight and
verdure of the delightful season, 0 how different the
moral atmosphere amid which I now revise this Volume,
from the jocund influences surrounding the growth and
advent of Leaves of Grass. I occupy myself, arranging
these pages for publication, still envelopt in thoughts of
the death two years since of my dear Mother, the most
perfect and magnetic character, the rarest combination
of practical, moral and spiritual, and the least selfish,
of all and any I have ever known-and by me 0 so
much the more deeply loved-and also under the phys-
ical affliction of a tedious attack of paralysis, obstinately
lingering and keeping its hold upon me, and quite sus-
pending all bodily activity and comfort."
Thanks are due Mr. Harrison S. Morris for friendly
advice and assistance in the preparation of these Auto-

il. 4i.

Good-bye, Walt!
Good-bye, from all you loved of earth-
Rock, tree, dumb creature, man and woman-
To you, their comrade human.
The last assault
Ends now; and now in some great world has birth
A minstrel, whose strong soul finds broader wings,
More brave imaginings.
Stars crown the hilltop where your dust shall lie,
Even as we say good-bye,
Good-bye, old Walt.'
E. C. S.

Sent, with an ivy wreath,
to his funeral,
March 30, 1892.



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 bun-
dle, reel out diary-scraps and memoranda, just as they
are, large or small, one after another, into print-pages,*

*The pages from Ix to 31 are nearly verbatim an off-hand letter of mine
in January, x882, to an insisting friend. Following, I givesome gloomy ex-
periences. The war of attempted succession has, of course, been the distin-
guishing event of my time. I commenced at the close of x862, and contin-
ued 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 re-
fresh my memory of names and circumstances, and what was specially want-
ed, &c. In these Ibrief'd cases, persons, sights, occurrencesincamp, by the
bedside, and not seldom by the corpses of the dead. Some were scratched


and let the melange's lacking 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, plan-
ning 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 any-
thing else, I shall send out the most wayward, spon-
taneous, fragmentary book ever printed.

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 associa-
tions 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 com-
posed 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 53 to 1o3 are verbatim copies of those lurid and blood-smutch'd
little note-books.
Very different are most of the memoranda that follow. Some time aftel
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 104 onward was mostly written.



You ask for items, details of my early life-of geneal-
ogy 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 father and mother 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 gene-
sis, 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 unfulfill'd, probably
abandoned,) purpose; and if you will be satisfied with
them, authentic in date-occurrence and fact simply,
and told my own way, garruloit-like, here they are. I
shall not hesitate to make extracts, for I catch at any-
thing 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 Queens county, about a mile
from the harbor.* My father's side-probably the fifth
generation from the first English arrivals in New Eng-
land-were at the same time farmers on their own land
-(and a fine domain it was, 500o 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 branching West 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 Wey-
mouth, 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 "Genealog-
ical Dictionary (vol. iv, p. 524) gets the Whitman
family established at Huntington, per this Joseph, be-
fore 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

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 folkslived,
and where I was born.


in the old country. We hear of the father of John and
Zechariah, Abijah Whitman, who goes over into the
500oo'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 :

July 29, iSYI.-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 fa-
miliar spots, viewing and pondering and dwelling long
upon them, everything 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 (i8io,) 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 (175o-'6o) 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 evi-
dently capable of throwing out their annual blossoms
and fruit yet.
I now write these lines seated on an old grave (doubt-
less of a century since at least) on the burial hill of the
Whitmans of many generations. Fifty and 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 cen-
turies concentrate on this sterile acre.
The next day, July 30, I devoted to the maternal lo-
cality, and if possible was still more penetrated and
impressed. I write this paragraph on the burial hill of
the Van Velsors, near Cold Spring, the most signifi-
cant 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 primitive, 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 grand-
mother 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 at-
mosphere 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 plow and har-
row pass'd over foundations, road-spaces and every-
thing, 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 peo-
ple, my grandmother Amy's sweet old face in its
Quaker cap, my grandfather "the Major," jovial, red,
stout, with sonorous voice and characteristic physiog-
nomy, with the actual sights themselves, made the
most pronounced half-day's experience of my whole


For there with all those wooded, hilly, healthy sur-
roundings, 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 Vel-
sor people were noted for fine horses, which the men
bred and trained 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 Velsor.


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 cen-
tury, 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 patriarchal 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 In-
dian pudding and milk. In the house, and in food and fur-
niture, 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 labored 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 hospi-
talities, decorums, and an excellent social reputation in the
country, 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, man-
aged the most vicious horse, and, becoming a widow in
later life, went forth every day over her farm-lands, fre-
quently in the saddle, directing the labor of her slaves,
with 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, housewifely 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 early in 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 Mon-
tauk point.


Worth fully and particularly investigating indeed
this Paumanok, (to give the spot its aboriginal name,*)
stretching east through Kings, Queens and Suffolk
counties, 120 miles altogether-on the north Long
Island sound, a beautiful, varied and picturesque series

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 inva-
lids, 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."-Yokn Bur.


of inlets, necks and sea-like expansions, for a hun-
dred 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
tight on the island, the sea dashing up without inter-
vention. 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 exam-
ple, was the loss of the ship Mexico in 1840, (allud-
ed to in "the Sleepers" in L. of G.) And at Hamp-
ton, some years later, the destruction of the brig
" Elizabeth," a fearful affair, in one of the worst win-
ter 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 fra-
ternize 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 civiliza-
tion, in charge, on those rich pasturages, of vast droves
of horses, kine or sheep, own'd by famers of the east-
ern towns. Sometimes, too, the few remaining Indi-
ans, 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 (183o-'4o) 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 hun-
dreds, 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 of-
ten been out on the edges of these plains toward sun-
down, and can yet recall in fancy the interminable
cow-processions, and hear the music of the tin or cop-


per bells clanking far or near, and breathe the cool of
the sweet and slightly aromatic evening air, and note
the sunset.
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 cross-roads, 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,) ab-
sorbing fields, shores, marine incidents, characters, the
bay-men, farmers, pilots-always had a plentiful ac-
quaintance 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, barefoot, and with trousers
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 voy-
ages down and out New York bay, in the pilot boats.
Those same later years, also, while living in Brooklyn,
(1836-'5o) I went regularly every week in the mild sea-
sons 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.


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 af-
ter the other, but they were mortgaged, and we lost
them. I yet remember Lafayette's visit. 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 employed
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.)


It must have been in 1822 or '3 that I first came to
live in Brooklyn. Lived first in Front street, not far
from what was then called "the New Ferry," wending


the river from the foot of Catharine (or Main) street to
New York city.
I was a little child (was born in 1819,) but tramp'd
freely about the neighborhood and town, even then;
was often on the aforesaid New Ferry; remember how
I was petted and deadheaded by the gatekeepers and
deckhands (all such fellows are kind to little children,)
and remember the horses that seem'd to me so queer
as they trudg'd around in the central houses of the
boats, making the water-power. (For it was just on
the eve of the steam-engine, which was soon after in-
troduced on the ferries.) Edward Copeland (afterward
Mayor) had a grocery store then at the corner of Front
and Catharine streets.
Presently we Whitmans all moved up to Tillary
street, near Adams, where my father, who was a car-
penter, built a house for himself and us all. It was
from here I "assisted" the personal coming of Lafay-
ette in 1824-5 in Brooklyn. He came over the Old
Ferry, as the now Fulton Ferry (partly navigated quite
up to that day by horse boats," though the first
steamer had begun to be used hereabouts) was then
called, and was received at the foot of Fulton street.
It was on that occasion that the corner-stone of the
Apprentices' Library, at the corner of Cranberry and
Henry streets-since pull'd down-was laid by Lafay-
ette's own hands. Numerous children arrived on the
grounds, of whom I was one, and were assisted by
several gentlemen to safe spots to view the ceremony.
Among others, Lafayette, also helping children, took
me up-I was five years old-press'd me a moment to
his breast, gave me a kiss and set me down in a safe


spot. Lafayette was at that time between sixty-five
and seventy years of age, with a manly figure, and a
kind face.

After about two years went to work in a weekly news-
paper 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 charac-
ter, 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;
Sunday 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.) After-
ward 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 An-
drew, George, Thomas Jefferson, and then my young-
est brother, Edward, born 1835, and always badly crip-
pled, as I am myself of late years.


I developed (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 recovered. All these years I was down Long Island
more or less every summer, now east, now west, some-
times months at a stretch. At 16, 17, and so on, was
fond of debating societies, and had an active member-
ship 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 per-
1836-7, work'd as compositor in printing offices in
New York city. Then, when little more than eighteen,
and for a while afterward, 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 hu-
man nature behind the scenes, and in the masses.) In
'39, '40, 1 started and published 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 gen-
eral importance, volume, variety, rapidity, and pictu-
resqueness. 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, accompani-
ments, 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 chang-
ing 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 mar-
velously beautiful yachts-the majestic sound boats as
they rounded the Battery and came along towards 5,
afternoon, eastward bound-the prospect off toward
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, Bry-
ant, 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 published. Poe was very cordial, in a
quiet way, appeared well in person, dress, &c. I have a
distinct and pleasing remembrance of his looks, voice,
manner and matter; very kindly and human, but sub-
dued, perhaps a little jaded. For another of my rem-
iniscences, 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, al-
most 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 thirteen or four-


teen, stopped and gazed long at the spectacle of that
fur-swathed old man, surrounded by friends and ser-
vants, 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 atten-
tion, I can almost see now. It was John Jacob Astor.
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 unre-
corded-namely, the Broadway omnibuses, with their
drivers. The vehicles still (I write this paragraph in
188 i)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 Broad-
way, 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 remem-
ber them, and must here give a word about them. How
many hours, forenoons and afternoons-how many ex-
hilarating night-times I have had-perhaps June or
July, in cooler air-riding the whole length of Broad-


way, listening to some yarn, (and the most vivid yarns
ever spun, and the rarest mimicry)-or perhaps I de-
claiming 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, Patsy
Dee, and dozens more; for there were hundreds. They
had immense qualities, largely animal-eating, drink-
ing, women-great personal pride, in their way-per-
haps 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 omni-
bus jaunts and drivers and declamations and escapades
undoubtedly enter'd into the gestation of Leaves of


Flittung mention-(wi/h much left out)

Seems to me I ought acknowledge my debt to act-
ors, singers, public speakers, conventions, and the Stage
in New York, my youthful days, from 1835 onward-
say to '6o or '61-and to plays and operas generally.
(Which nudges a pretty big disquisition: of course it
should be all elaborated and penetrated more deeply-


but I will here give only some flitting mentioning of
my youth.) Seems to me now, when I look back, the
Italian contralto Marietta Alboni (she is living yet, in
Paris, 1891, in good condition, good voice yet, consid-
ering) with the then prominent histrions Booth, Edwin
Forrest, and Fanny Kemble and the Italian singer Bet-
tini, have had the deepest and most lasting effect upon
me. I should like well if Madame Alboni and the old
composer Verdi, (and Bettini the tenor, if he is living)
could know how much noble pleasure and happiness
they gave me, and how deeply I always remember them
and thank them to this day. For theatricals in litera-
ture and doubtless upon me personally, including opera,
have been of course serious factors. (The experts and
musicians of my present friends claim that the new
Wagner and his pieces belong far more truly to me, and
I to them. Very likely. But I was fed and bred under
the Italian dispensation, and absorb'd it, and doubtless
show it.)
As a young fellow, when possible I always studied
a play or libretto quite carefully over, by myself, (some-
times twice through,) before seeing it on the stage; read
it the day or two days before. Tried both ways-not
reading some beforehand; but I found I gained most
by getting that sort of mastery first, if the piece had
depth. (Surface effects and glitter were much less
thought of, I am sure, those times.) There were many
fine old plays, neither tragedies nor comedies-the
names of them quite unknown in to-day's current au-
diences. All is not Gold that Glitters," in which
Charlotte Cushman had a superbly enacted part, was
of that kind. C. C., who revel'd in them, was great


in such pieces; I think better than in the heavy popu-
lar r6les.
We had some fine music those days. We had the
English opera of Cinderella" (with Henry Placide as
the pompous old father) an unsurpassable bit of com-
edy and music. We had Bombastes Furioso." Must
have been in 1844 (or '5) I saw Charles Kean and Mrs.
Kean (Ellen Tree)-saw them in the Park, in Shak-
spere's "King John." He, of course, was the chief
character. She played Queen Constance. Tom Hamblin
was Faulconbridge, and probably the best ever on the
stage. It was an immense show-piece, too; lots of
grand set scenes and fine armor-suits and all kinds of
appointments imported from London (where it had
been first render'd.) The large brass bands-the three
or four hundred supes "-the interviews between the
French and English armies-the talk with Hubert (and
the hot irons) the delicious acting of Prince Arthur
(Mrs. Richardson, I think)-and all the fine blare and
court pomp-I remember to this hour. The death-scene
of the King in the orchard of Swinstead Abbey, was
very effective. Kean rush'd in, gray-pale and yellow,
and threw himself on a lounge in the open. His pangs
were horribly realistic. (He must have taken lessons
in some hospital.)
Fanny Kemble played to wonderful effect in such
pieces as "Fazio, or the Italian Wife." The turning-
point was jealousy. It was a rapid-running, yet heavy-
timber'd, tremendous wrenching, passionate play. Such
old pieces always seem'd to me built like an ancient ship
of the line, solid and lock'd from keel up-oak and
metal and knots. One of the finest characters was a


great court lady, Allabella, enacted by Mrs. Sharpe. 0
how it all entranced us, and knock'd us about, as the
scenes swept on like a cyclone !
Saw Hackett at the old Park many times, and re-
member him well. His renderings were first-rate in
everything. He inaugurated the true Rip Van Win-
kle," and look'd and acted and dialogue it to perfec-
tion (he was of Dutch breed, and brought up among
old Holland descendants in Kings and Queens coun-
ties, Long Island.) The play and the acting of it have
been adjusted to please popular audiences since; but
there was in that original performance certainly some-
thing of a far higher order, more art, more reality,
more resemblance, a bit of fine pathos, a lofty brogute,
beyond anything afterward.
One of my big treats was the rendering at the old
Park of Shakspere's Tempest" in musical version.
There was a very fine instrumental band, not numerous,
but with a capital leader. Mrs. Austin was the Ariel,
and Peter Richings the Caliban; both excellent. The
drunken song of the latter has probably been never
equal'd. The perfect actor Clarke (old Clarke) was
Yes; there were in New York and Brooklyn some
fine non-technical singing performances, concerts, such
as the Hutchinson band, three brothers, and the sister,
the red-cheek'd New England carnation, sweet Abby;
sometimes plaintive and balladic -sometimes anti-
slavery, anti-calomel, and comic. There were concerts
by Templeton, Russell, Dempster, the old Alleghanian
band, and many others. Then we had lots of negro
minstrels," with capital character songs and voices. I


often saw Rice, the original Jim Crow," at the old
Park Theatre, filling up the gap in some short bill-and
the wild chants and dances were admirable-probably
ahead of anything since. Every theatre had some su-
perior voice, and it was common to give a favorite song
between the acts. The Sea at the bijou Olympic,
(Broadway near Grand,) was always welcome from a lit-
tle Englishman named Edwin, a good balladist. At the
Bowery the loves of Sweet William,"
"When on the Downs the fleet was moor'd,"

always bro't an encore, and sometimes a treble.
I remember Jenny Lind and heard her (1850 I think)
several times. She had the most brilliant, captivating,
popular musical style and expression of any one known;
(the canary, and several other sweet birds are wondrous
fine-but there is something in song that goes deeper
-isn't there ?)
And who remembers the renown'd New York Tab-
ernacle of those days before the war ? It was on
the east side of Broadway, near Pearl street-was a
great turtle-shaped hall, and you had to walk back
from the street entrance, thro' a long wide corridor to
get to it-was very strong-had an immense gallery-
altogether held three or four thousand people. Here
the huge annual conventions of the windy and cyclonic
" reformatory societies" of those times were held-es-
pecially the tumultuous Anti-Slavery ones. I remember
hearing Wendell Phillips, Emerson, Cassius Clay, John
P. Hale, Beecher, Fred Douglass, the Burleighs, Garri-
son, and others. Sometimes the Hutchinsons would
sing-very fine. Sometimes there were angry rows. A


chap named Isaiah Rhynders, a fierce politician of
those days, with a band of robust supporters, would at-
tempt to contradict the speakers and break up the
meetings. But the Anti-Slavery, and Quaker, and Tem-
perance, and Missionary and other conventions and
speakers were tough, tough, and always maintained
their ground, and carried out their programs fully. I
went frequently to these meetings, May after May-
learn'd much from them-was sure to be on hand when
J. P. Hale or Cash Clay made speeches.
If it is worth while 1 might add that there was a small
but well-appointed amateur-theatre up Broadway, with
the usual stage, orchestra, pit, boxes, &c., and that I
was myself a member for some time, and acted parts
in it several times-" second parts as they were called.
Perhaps it too was a lesson, or help'd that way; at any
rate it was full of fun and enjoyment.


For the elderly New Yorker of to-day, perhaps, noth-
ing were more likely to start up memories of his early
manhood than the mention of the Bowery and the
elder Booth. At the date given [circa 1838]. the more
stylish and select theatre (prices, 50 cents pit, $I boxes)
was The Park," a large and well-appointed house on
Park Row, opposite the present post-office. English
opera and the old comedies were often given in capital
style; the principal foreign stars appeared here, with
Italian opera at wide intervals. The Park held a large
part in my boyhood's and young manhood's life. Here
I heard the English actor, Anderson, in "Charles de


Moor," and in the fine part of Giszipus. Here I
heard Fanny Kemble, Charlotte Cushman, the Seguins,
Daddy Rice, Hackett as Falstaf, Nimrod Wildfire, Rip
Van Winkle, and in his Yankee characters. It was here
(some years later than the date in the headline) I also
heard Mario many times, and at his best. In such parts
as Gennaro, in Lucretia Borgia," he was inimitable
-the sweetest of voices, a pure tenor, of considerable
compass and respectable power. His wife, Grisi, was
with him, no longer first-class or young-a fine Nor-
ma, though, to the last.
But getting back more specifically to the date and
theme I started from-the heavy tragedy business pre-
vail'd more decidedly at the Bowery Theatre, where
Booth and Forrest were frequently to be heard. Though
Booth fire, then in his prime, ranging in age from 40
to 44 years (he was born in 1796,) was the loyal child
and continue of the traditions of orthodox English
play-acting, he stood out himself alone in many re-
spects beyond any of his kind on record, and with ef-
fects and ways that broke through all rules and all tra-
ditions. He has been well described as an actor
" whose instant and tremendous concentration of pas-
sion in his delineations overwhelmed his audience, and
wrought into it such enthusiasm that it partook of the
fever of inspiration surging through his own veins."
He seems to have been of beautiful private character,
very honorable, affectionate, good-natured, no arro-
gance, glad to give the other actors the best chances.
He knew all stage points thoroughly, and curiously
ignored the mere dignities. I once talk'd with a man
who had seen him do the Second Actor in the mock


play to Charles Kean's Hamlet in Baltimore. He was a
marvellous linguist. He played Shylock once in Lon-
don, giving the dialogue in Hebrew, and in New Or-
leans, Oreste (Racine's Andromaque ") in French.
One trait of his habits, I have heard, was strict vege-
tarianism. He was exceptionally kind to brute crea-
tion. Every once in a while he would make a break
for solitude or wild freedom, sometimes for a few hours,
sometimes for days. (He illustrated Plato's rule, that
to the forming an artist of the very highest rank a
dash of insanity, or what the world calls insanity, is in-
dispensable.) He was a small-sized man--yet sharp
observers noticed that however crowded the stage might
be in certain scenes, Booth never seem'd overtopt or
hidden. He was singularly spontaneous and fluctuat-
ing; in the same part each rendering differ'd from any
and all others. He had no stereotyped positions and
made no arbitrary requirements on his fellow per-
As is well known to old play-goers, Booth's most ef-
fective part was Richard III. Either that, or lago, or
Shylock, or Pescara in The Apostate," was sure to
draw a crowded house. (Remember, heavy pieces were
much more in demand those days than now.) He was
also unapproachably grand in Sir Giles Overreach, in
" A New Way to Pay Old Debts," and the principal
character in "The Iron Chest."
Recalling from that period the occasion of either
Forrest or Booth, any good night at the old Bowery,
pack'd from ceiling to pit with its audience mainly of
alert, well dress'd, full-blooded young and middle-
aged men, the best average of American-born mechan-


ics-the emotional nature of the whole mass arous'd
by the power and magnetism of as mighty mimes as
ever trod the stage-the whole crowded auditorium,
and what seeth'd in it, and flush'd from its faces and
eyes, to me as much a part of the show as any-burst-
ing forth in one of those long-kept-up tempests of hand-
clapping peculiar to the Bowery-no dainty kid-glove
business, but electric force and muscle from perhaps
2,000 full-sinew'd men-(the inimitable and chromatic
tempest of one of those ovations to Edwin Forrest,
welcoming him back after an absence, comes up to me
this moment)-Such sounds and scenes as here re-
sumed will surely afford to many old New Yorkers some
fruitful recollections.
I can yet remember (for I always scann'd an audience
as rigidly as a play) the faces of the leading authors,
poets, editors, of those times-Fenimore Cooper, Bry-
ant, Paulding, Irving, Charles King, Watson Webb,
N. P. Willis, Hoffman, Halleck, Mumford, Morris,
Leggett, L. G. Clarke, R. A. Locke and others, occa-
sionally peering from the first tier boxes; and even the
great National Eminences, Presidents Adams, Jackson,
Van Buren and Tyler, all made short visits there on
their Eastern tours.
I happened to see what has been reckon'd by experts
one of the most marvelous pieces of histrionism ever
known. It must have been about 1834 or'35. A favor-
ite comedian and actress at the Bowery, Thomas Flynn
and his wife, were to have a joint benefit, and securing
Booth for Richard, advertised the fact many days be-
fore-hand. The house filled early from top to bottom.
There was some uneasiness behind the scenes, for the


afternoon arrived, and Booth had not come from down
in Maryland, where he lived. However, a few minutes
before ringing-up time he made his appearance in
lively condition.
After a one-act farce was over, as contrast and pre-
lude, the curtain rising for the tragedy, I can, from my
good seat in the pit, pretty well front, see again Booth's
quiet entrance from the side, as, with head bent, he
slowly and in silence, (amid the tempest of boisterous
hand-clapping,) walks down the stage to the footlights
with that peculiar and abstracted gesture, musingly
kicking his sword, which he holds off from him by its
sash. Though fifty years have passed since then, I can
hear the clank, and feel the perfect following hush of
perhaps 3,000 people waiting. (I never saw an actor
who could make more of the said hush or wait, and
hold the audience in an indescribable, half-delicious,
half-irritating suspense.) And so throughout the entire
play, all parts, voice, atmosphere, magnetism, from

Now is the winter of our discontent,"

to the closing death fight with Rickmond, were of the
finest and grandest. The latter character was played
by a stalwart young fellow named Ingersoll. Indeed,
all the renderings were wonderfully good. But the
great spell cast upon the mass of hearers came from
Booth. Especially was the dream scene very impress-
ive. A shudder went through every nervous system in
the audience; it certainly did through mine.
Without question Booth was royal heir and legiti-
mate representative of the Garrick-Kemble-Siddons
dramatic traditions; but he vitalized and gave an un-


namable race to those traditions with his own electric
personal idiosyncrasy. (As in all art-utterance it was the
subtle and powerful something specialto the individual
that really conquer'd.)
And so let us turn off the gas. Out in the brilliancy
of the footlights-filling the attention of perhaps a
crowded audience, and making many a breath and
pulse swell and rise-O so much passion and imparted
life !-over and over again, the season through-walk-
ing, gesticulating, singing, reciting his or her part. But
then sooner or later inevitably wending to the flies or
exit door-vanishing to sight and ear-and never ma-
terializing on this earth's stage again !


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 edi-
torial 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,oo0 miles
this trip, to and fro. '51, '53, occupied in house-build-
ing in Brooklyn. (For a little of the first part of that
time in printing a daily and weekly paper, "the Free-
man.") '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 (i856-'7) passing through my 37th year.


Reminiscences-(From tile "Camden Courier.")-As I
sat taking my evening sail across the Delaware in the
staunch ferryboat Beverly," a night or two ago, I was
join'd by two young reporter friends. I have a mes-
sage for you," said one of them; the C. folks told
me to say they would like a piece sign'd by your name,
to go in their first number. Can you do it for them ?"
"I guess so," said I; "what might it be about?"
" Well, anything on newspapers,or perhaps what you've
done yourself, starting them." And off the boys went
for we had reached the Philadelphia side. The hour
was'fine and mild, the bright half-moon shining; Ve-
nus, with excess of splendor, just setting in the west,
and the great Scorpion rearing its length more than
half up in the southeast. As I cross'd leisurely for an
hour in the pleasant night-scene, my young friend's
words brought up quite a string of reminiscences.
I commenced when I was but a boy of eleven or
twelve writing sentimental bits for the old Long Isl-
and Patriot," in Brooklyn; this was about 1832. Soon
after, I had a piece or two in George P. Morris's then
celebrated and fashionable Mirror," of New York
city. I remember with what half-suppress'd excitement


I used to watch for the big, fat, red-faced, slow-mov-
ing, very old English carrier who distributed the "Mir-
ror" in Brooklyn; and when I got one, opening and
cutting the leaves with trembling fingers. How it
made my heart double-beat to see my fiece on the
pretty white paper, in nice type.
My first real venture was the Long Islander," in
my own beautiful town of Huntington, in 1839. I was
about twenty years old. I had been teaching country
school for two or three years in various parts of Suffolk
and Queens counties, but liked printing; had been at
it while a lad, learned the trade of compositor, and was
encouraged to start a paper in the region where I was
born. I went to New York, bought a press and types,
hired some little help, but did most of the work my-
self, including the press-work. Everything seem'd
turning out well; (only my own restlessness prevented
me gradually establishing a permanent property there.)
I bought a good horse, and every week went all round
the country serving my papers, devoting one day and
night to it. I never had happier jaunts-going over
to south side, to Babylon, down the south road, across
to Smithtown and Comac, and back home. The ex-
periences of those jaunts, the dear old-fashion'd farm-
ers and their wives, the stops by the hay-fields, the
hospitality, nice dinners, occasional evenings, the
girls, the rides through the brush, come up in my mem-
ory to this day.
I next went to the Aurora" daily in New York
city-a sort of free lance. Also wrote regularly for the
"Tattler," an evening paper. With these and a little
outside work I was occupied off and on, until I went


to edit the Brooklyn Eagle," where for two years I
had one of the pleasantest sits of my life-a good own-
er, good pay, and easy work and hours. The troubles
in the Democratic party broke forth about those times
(1848-'49) and I split off with the radicals, which led
to rows with the boss and the party," and I lost my
Being now out of a job, I was offered impromptu, (it
happened between the acts one night in the lobby of
the old Broadway theatre near Pearl street, New York
city,) a good chance to go down to New Orleans on
the staff of the "Crescent," a daily to be started there
with plenty of capital behind it. One of the owners,
who was north buying material, met me walking in the
lobby, and though that was our first acquaintance, af-
ter fifteen minutes' talk (and a drink) we made a form-
al bargain, and he paid me two hundred dollars down
to bind the contract and bear my expenses to New Or-
leans. I started two days afterwards; had a good
leisurely time, as the paper wasn't to be out in three
weeks. I enjoy'd my journey and Louisiana life much.
Returning to Brooklyn a year or two afterwards, I
started the Freeman," first as a weekly, then daily.
Pretty soon the secession war broke out, and I, too,
got drawn in the current southward, and spent the fol-
lowing three years there.
Besides starting them as aforementioned, I have had
to do, one time or another, during my life, with a
long list of papers, at divers places, sometimes under
queer circumstances. During the war, the hospitals at
Washington, among other means of amusement, print-
ed a little sheet among themselves, surrounded by


wounds and death, the Armory Square Gazette," to
which I contributed. The same long afterward, casu-
ally, to a paper-I think it was called the "Jimplecute"
-out in Colorado where I stopped at the time. When
I was in Quebec province, in Canada, in i88O, I went
into the queerest little old French printing office near
Tadousac. It was far more primitive and ancient than
my Camden friend William Kurtz's place up on Feder-
al street. I remember, as a youngster, several charac-
teristic old printers of a kind hard to be seen these


I shall not easily forget the first time I ever saw
Abraham Lincoln. It must have been about the i8th
or i9th of February, 1861. It was rather a pleasant
afternoon, in New York city, as he arrived there from
the West, to remain a few hours, and then pass on to
Washington, to prepare for his inauguration. I saw
him in Broadway, near the site of the present Post-
office. He came down, I think from Canal street, to
stop at the Astor House. The broad spaces, sidewalks,
and street in the neighborhood, and for some distance,
were crowded with solid masses of people, many thou-
sands. The omnibuses and other vehicles had all been
turned off, leaving an unusual hush in that busy part
of the city. Presently two or three shabby hack ba-
rouches made their way with some difficulty through
the crowd, and drew up at the Astor House entrance.
A tall figure step'd out of the centre of these barouches,
paus'd leisurely on the sidewalk, look'd up at the gran-


ite walls and looming architecture of the grand old
hotel-then, after a relieving stretch of arms and legs,
turn'd round for over a minute to slowly and good-
humoredly scan the appearance of the vast and silent
crowds. There were no speeches-no compliments-
no welcome-as far as I could hear, not a word said.
Still much anxiety was conceal'd in that quiet. Cau-
tious persons had fear'd some mark'd insult or indig-
nity to the President-elect-for he possess'd no personal
popularity at all in New York city, and very little po-
litical. But it was evidently tacitly agreed that if the
few political supporters of Mr. Lincoln present would
entirely abstain from any demonstration on their side,
the immense majority, who were anything but sup-
porters, would abstain on their side also. The result
was a sulky, unbroken silence, such as certainly never
before characterized so great a New York crowd.
Almost in the same neighborhood I distinctly re-
member'd seeing Lafayette on his visit to America in
1825. I had also personally seen and heard, various
years afterward, how Andrew Jackson, Clay, Webster,
Hungarian Kossuth, Filibuster Walker, the Prince of
Wales on his visit, and other celebres, native and for-
eign, had been welcomed there-all that indescribable
human roar and magnetism, unlike any other sound in
the universe-the glad exulting thunder-shouts of
countless unloos'd throats of men But on this occa-
sion, not a voice-not a sound. From the top of an
omnibus, (driven up one side, close by, and block'd by
the curbstone and the crowds,) I had, I say, a capital
view of it all, and especially of Mr. Lincoln, his look
and gait-his perfect composure and coolness-his un-


usual and uncouth height, his dress of complete black,
stovepipe hat push'd back on the head, dark-brown
complexion, seam'd and wrinkled yet canny-looking
face, black, bushy head of hair, disproportionately
long neck, and his hands held behind as he stood ob-
serving the people. He look'd with curiosity upon that
immense sea of faces, and the sea of faces returned the
look with similar curiosity. In both there was a dash
of comedy, almost farce, such as Shakspere puts in his
blackest tragedies. The crowd that hemm'd around
consisted I should think of thirty to forty thousand men,
not a single one his personal friend-while I have no
doubt, (so frenzied were the ferments of the time,) many
an assassin's knife and pistol lurk'd in hip or breast-
pocket there, ready, soon as break and riot came.
But no break or riot came. The tall figure gave
another relieving stretch or two of arms and legs ; then
with moderate pace, and accompanied by a few un-
known looking persons, ascended the portico-steps of
the Astor House, disappeared through its broad en-
trance-and the dumb-show ended.


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 char-
acter, now solidified for good or bad, and its subse-
quent literary and other outgrowth-the maternal na-
tivity-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 teem-
ing 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 5ist New York volunteers,
had been seriously wounded (first Fredericksburg bat-
tle, 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 received in New York
city late at night (13th April, 1861,) and was immedi-
ately sent out in extras of the newspapers. I had been
to the opera in Fourteenth street that night, and after
the performance was walkirig 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, rush-
ing from side to side even more furiously than usual.
I bought an extra and cross'd to the Metropolitan Ho-
tel (Niblo's) where the great lamps were still brightly
blazing, and, with a crowd of others, who gathered im-
promptu, 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 listened silently and
attentively. No remark was made by any of the crowd,
which had increased 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.


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 resist-
ance to national authority, were not at all realized at
the North, except by a few. Nine-tenths of the peo-
ple 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 joined 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 believed the
prediction. I remember talking about it on a Fulton
ferryboat 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 seces-
sion 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 re-
sults, 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, 21ist,) had been parch'd and hot to an ex-
treme-the dust, the grime and smoke, in layers,
sweated in, followed by other layers again sweated in,
absorb'd by those excited souls-their clothes all sat-
urated 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 hor-
rible march of twenty miles, returning to Washington
baffled, 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 staff.


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 destroyed 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 followed, and by a bold Napo-
leonic 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 expressed in pub-
lic 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 appeared at least just as likely
to see the last breath of the Union as to see it con-

But the hour, the day, the night pass'd, and what-
ever returns, an hour, a day, a night like that can
never again return. The President, recovering him-
self, begins that very night-sternly, rapidly sets about
the task of reorganizing his forces, and placing him-
self 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 en-
dured that hour, that day, bitterer than gall-indeed a
crucifixion day-that it did not conquer him-that he
unflinchingly stemm'd it, and resolved to lift himself
and the Union out of it.
Then the great New York papers at once appeared,
(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, un-
faltering defiance. Those magnificent editorials they
never flagg'd for a fortnight. The Herald com-
menced 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
(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 eat-
en 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

FALMOUTH, VA., ofiosite Fredericksburg, December
2z, Z862.-Begin my visits among 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 Rap-
pahannock, used as a hospital since the battle-seems
to have received 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 wool-


en blanket. In the door-yard, towards the river, are
fresh graves, mostly of officers, their names on pieces
of barrel-staves or broken boards, stuck in the dirt.
(Most of these bodies were subsequently taken up and
transported north to their friends.) The large man-
sion 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, un-
clean 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 let-
ters to folks home, mothers, &c. Also talk'd to three
or four, who seem'd most susceptible to it, and need-
ing 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 some-
times 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; sel-
dom 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 can-
not 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 acquinted 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 ra-
tions, 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 fire-places.


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, oth-
ers 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 wait-
ed some three hours, 1 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, com-
pany E, 6oth New York, downhearted and feeble; a
long time before he would take any interest; wrote a
letter home to his mother, in Malone, Franklin coun-
ty, 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, observed
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 crack-
ers, figs, &c.
Thursday, Jan. 21.-Devoted the main part of the
day to Armory-square hospital; went pretty thorough-
ly 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; distrib-
uted 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 wcanded 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 sixteen 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 lit-
tle jar of raspberries; bed i, 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 al-
luded to; found him remarkably changed for the bet-
ter; 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 fif-
ty stamp'd envelopes, of which I had recruited my
stock, and the men were much in need.


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 (Feb-
ruary 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 3oth.-Afternoon, visited Camp-
bell hospital. Scene of cleaning up the ward, and giv-
ing the men all clean clothes-through the ward (6)
the patients dressing or being dress'd-the naked up-
per 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 arti-
cles. Wrote letters. Saw and talk'd with two or
three members of the Brooklyn i4th regt. A poor fel-
low in ward D, with a fearful wound in a fearful con-
dition, 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 blood-
less, brown-skinn'd face, with eyes full of determina-
tion-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 ty-
phoid 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 dis-
agreeable wound, received 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 suf-
fer'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 com-
fortable, 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 fili'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 ly-
ing 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, n-t
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.)

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 appropri-
ated 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, cir-
cles, &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 ab-
sence of demonstration; but the pallid face, the dull'd
eye, and the moisture on 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.

The grand soldiers are not comprised in those of one
side, any more than the other. Here isa 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 io4th Ohio volunteers, pre-
sented 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 Chan-
cellorsville. 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 7Y last night.
A little after 8 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, what-
ever their condition, lie there, and patiently wait till
their turn comes to be taken up. Near by, the ambu-
lances are now arriving in clusters, and one after an-
other is called 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 1,000ooo a day.

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.

This afternoon, July 22d, I have spent a long time
with Oscar F. Wilber, company G, i54th New York,
low with chronic diarrhoea, and a bad wound also.
He asked me to read him a chapter in the New Testa-
ment. I complied, and ask'd him what I should read.
He said, "Make your own choice." 1 open'd at the
close of one of the first books of the evangelists, and
read the chapters describing the latter hours of Christ,
and the scenes at the crucifixion. The poor, wasted
young man ask'd me to read the following chapter
also, how Christ rose again. I read very slowly, for
Oscar was feeble. It pleased him very much, yet the
tears were in his eyes. He ask'd me if I enjoy'd relig-
ion. I said, Perhaps not, my dear, in the way you
mean, and yet, may-be, .it is the same thing." He
said, "It is my chief reliance." He talk'd of death,
and said he did not fear it. I said, "Why, Oscar,
don't you think you will get well ? He said, I may,
but it is not probable." He spoke calmly of his condi-
tion. The wound was very bad, it discharged much.
Then the diarrhea had prostrated him, and I felt that
he was even then the same as dying. He behaved
very manly and affectionate. The kiss I 'gave him as
I was about leaving he returned fourfold. He gave me
his mother's address, Mrs. Sally D. Wilber, Allegany
post-office, Cattaraugus county, N. Y. I had several
such interviews with him. He died a few days after
the one just described.



August 8kh.-To-night, as I was trying to keep cool,
sitting by a wounded soldier in Armory-square, I was
attracted by some pleasant singing in an adjoining
ward. As my soldier was asleep, I left him, and enter-
ing the ward where the music was, I walk'd half-way
down and took a seat by the cot of a young Brooklyn
friend, S. R., badly wounded in the hand at Chancel-
lorsville, and who has suffered much, but at that mo-
ment in the evening was wide awake and comparatively
easy. He had turn'd over on his left side to get a bet-
ter view of the singers, but the mosquito-curtains of
the adjoining cots obstructed the sight. I stept round
and loop'd them all up, so that he had a clear show,and
then sat down again by him, and look'd and listen'd.
The principal singer was a young lady-nurse of one of
the wards, accompanying on a melodeon, and join'd
by the lady-nurses of other wards. They sat there,
making a charming group, with their handsome, healthy
faces, and standing up a little behind them were some
ten or fifteen of the convalescent soldiers, young men,
nurses, &c., with books in their hands, singing. Of
course it was not such a performance as the great solo-
ists at the New York opera house take a hand in, yet I am
not sure but I received as much pleasure under the circum-
stances, sitting there, as I have had from the best Ital-
ian compositions, expressed by world-famous perform-
ers. The men lying up and down the hospital, in
their cots, (some badly wounded-some never to rise
thence,) the cots themselves, with their drapery of
white curtains, and the shadows down the lower and


upper parts of the ward; then the silence of the men.
and the attitudes they took-the whole was a sight to
look around upon again and again. And there sweetly
rose those voices up to the high, whitewash'd wooden
roof, and pleasantly the roof sent it all back again.
They sang very well, mostly quaint old songs and de-
clamatory hymns, to fitting tunes. Here, for in-
My days are swiftly gliding by, and I a pilgrim stranger,
Would not detain them as they fly, those hours of toil and
For 0 we stand on Jordan's strand, our friends are passing
And just before, the shining shore we may almost discover.

We'll gird our loins my brethren dear, our distant home
Our absent Lord has left us word, let every lamp be burn-
For 0 we stand on Jordan's strand, our friends are passing
And just before, the shining shore we may almost discover.
August i2th.-I see the President almost every day,
as I happen to live where he passes to or from his
lodgings out of town. He never sleeps at the White
House during the hot season, but has quarters at a
healthy location some three miles north of the city,
the Soldiers' home, a United States military establish-
ment. I saw him this morning about 8}4 coming in to
business, riding on Vermont avenue, near L street.
He always has a company of twenty-five or thirty cav-


airy, with sabres drawn and held upright over their
shoulders. They say this guard was against his per-
sonal wish, but he let his counselors have their way.
The party makes no great show in uniform or horses.
Mr. Lincoln on the saddle generally rides a good-sized,
easy-going gray horse, is dress'd in plain black, some-
what rusty and dusty, wears a black stiff hat, and looks
about as ordinary in attire, &c., as the commonest
man. A lieutenant, with yellow straps, rides at his
left, and following behind, two by two, come the cav-
alry men, in their yellow-striped jackets. They are gen-
erally going at a slow trot, as that is the pace set them
by the one they wait upon. The sabres and accoutre-
ments clank, and the entirely unornamental cortege as
it trots towards Lafayette square arouses no sensation.
only some curious stranger stops and gazes. I see very
plainly ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S dark brown face, with the
deep-cut lines, the eyes, always to me with a deep la-
tent sadness in the expression. We have got so that
we exchange bows, and very cordial ones. Sometimes
the President goes and comes in an open barouche.
The cavalry always accompany him, with drawn sabres.
Often I notice as he goes out evenings-and sometimes
in the morning, when he returns early-he turns off
and halts at the large and handsome residence of the
Secretary of War, on K street, and holds conference
there. If in his barouche, I can see from my window
he does not alight, but sits in his vehicle, and Mr.
Stanton comes out to attend him. Sometimes one of
his sons, a boy of ten or twelve, accompanies him, rid-
ing at his right on a pony. Earlier in the summer I
occasionally saw the President and his wife, toward


the latter part of the afternoon, out in a barouche, on
a pleasure ride through the city. Mrs. Lincoln was
dress'd in complete black, with a long crape veil. The
equipage is of the plainest kind, only two horses, and
they nothing extra. They passed me once very close,
and I saw the President in the face fully, as they were
moving slowly, and his look, though abstracted, hap-
pen'd to be directed steadily in my eye. He bow'd and
smiled, but far beneath his smile I noticed well the ex-
pression I have alluded to. None of the artists or pic-
tures has caught the deep, though subtle and indirect
expression of this man's face. There is something else
there. One of the great portrait painters of two or
three centuries ago is needed.

Another characteristic scene of that dark and bloody
1863, from notes of my visit to Armory-square hospi-
tal, one hot but pleasant summer day. In ward H we
approach the cot of a young lieutenant of one of the
Wisconsin regiments. Tread the bare floor lightly
here, for the pain and panting of death are in this cot.
I saw the lieutenant when he was first brought here
from Chancellorsville, and have been with him occa-
sionally from day to day and night to night. He had
been getting along pretty well till night before last,
when a sudden hemorrhage that could not be stopt
came upon him, and to-day it still continues at inter-
vals. Notice that water-pail by the side of the bed,
with a quantity of blood and bloody pieces of muslin,
nearly full; that tells the story. The poor young man
is struggling painfully for breath, his great dark eyes


with a glaze already upon them, and the choking faint
but audible in his throat. An attendant sits by him,
and will not leave him till the last; yet little or noth-
ing can be done. He will die here in an hour or two,
without the presence of kith or kin. Meantime the
ordinary chat and business of the ward a little way off
goes on indifferently. Some of the inmates are laugh-
ing and joking, others are playing checkers or cards,
others are reading, &c.
I have noticed through most of the hospitals that as
long as there is any chance for a man, no matter how
bad he may be, the surgeon and nurses work hard,
sometimes with curious tenacity, for his life, doing
everything, and keeping somebody by him to execute
the doctor's orders, and minister to him every minute
night and day. See that screen there. As you ad-
vance through the dusk of early candle-light, a nurse
will step forth on tip-toe, and silently but imperiously
forbid you to make any noise, or perhaps to come
near at all. Some soldier's life is flickering there, sus-
pended between recovery and death. Perhaps at this
moment the exhausted frame has just fallen into a light
sleep that a step might shake. You must retire. The
neighboring patients must move in their stocking feet.
I have been several times struck with such mark'd ef-
forts-everything bent to save a life from the very grip
of the destroyer. But when that grip is once firmly
fix'd, leaving no hope or chance at all, the surgeon
abandons the patient. If it is a case where stim-
ulus is any relief, the nurse gives milk-punch or brandy,
or whatever is wanted, ad libitun. There is no fuss
made. Not a bit of sentimentalism or whining have I


seen about a single death-bed in hospital or on the
field, but generally impassive indifference. All is over,
as far as any efforts can avail ; it is useless to expend
emotions or labors. While there is a prospect they
strive hard-at least most surgeons do ; but death cer-
tain and evident, they yield the field.

Aug., Sef., and Oct., '6j.-I am in the habit of go-
ing to all, and to Fairfax seminary, Alexandria, and
over Long bridge to the great Convalescent camp.
The journals publish a regular directory of them-a
long list. As a specimen of almost any one of the
larger of these hospitals, fancy to yourself a space of
three to twenty acres of ground, on which are group'd
ten or twelve very large wooden barracks, with, per-
haps, a dozen or twenty, and sometimes more than
that number, small buildings, capable altogether of
accommodating from five hundred to a thousand or
fifteen hundred persons. Sometimes these wooden
barracks or wards, each of them perhaps from a hun-
dred to a hundred and fifty feet long, are rang'd in a
straight row, evenly fronting the street; others are
planned so as to form an immense V; and others again
are ranged around a hollow square. They make alto-
gether a huge cluster, with the additional tents, extra
wards for contagious diseases, guard-houses, sutler's
stores, chaplain's house ; in the middle will probably
be an edifice devoted to the offices of the surgeon in
charge and the ward surgeons, principal attaches,
clerks, &c. The wards are either letter'd alphabeti-
cally, ward G, ward K, or else numerically, I, 2, 3, &c.


Each has its ward surgeon and corps of nurses. Of
course, there is, in the aggregate, quite a muster of
employs, and over all the surgeon in charge. Here in
Washington, when these army hospitals are all filled,
(as they have been already several times,) they contain
a population more numerous in itself than the whole
of the Washington of ten or fifteen years ago. Within
sight of the capitol, as I write, are some thirty or forty
such collections, at times holding from fifty to seventy
thousand men. Looking from any eminence and study-
ing the topography in my rambles, I use them as land-
marks. Through the rich August verdure of the trees,
see that white group of buildings off yonder in the out-
skirts ; then another cluster half a mile to the left of
the first; then another a mile to the right, and another
a mile beyond, and still another between us and the
first. Indeed, we can hardly look in any direction but
these clusters are dotting the landscape and environs.
That little town, as you might suppose it, off there on
the brow of the hill, is indeed a town, but of wounds,
sickness, and death. It is Finley hospital, northeast
of the city, on Kendall green, as it used to be called.
That other is Campbell hospital. Both are large estab-
lishinents. I have known these two alone to have from
two thousand to twenty-five hundred inmates. Then
there is Carver hospital, larger still, a wall'd and mili-
tary city regularly laid out, and guarded by squads of
sentries. Again, off east, Lincoln hospital, a still
larger one ; and half a mile further Emory hospital.
Still sweeping the eye around down the river toward
Alexandria, we see, to the right, the locality where the
Convalescent camp stands, with its five, eight, or some-


times ten thousand inmates. Even all these are but a
portion. The Harewood, Mount Pleasant, Armory-
square, Judiciary hospitals, are some of the rest, and
all large collections.

Every now and then, in hospital or camp, there are
beings I meet-specimens of unworldliness, disinterest-
edness, and animal purity and heroism-perhaps some
unconscious Indianian. or from Ohio or Tennessee-
on whose birth the calmness of heaven seems to have
descended, and whose gradual growing up, whatever
the circumstances of work-life or change, or hardship,
or small or no education that attended it, the power of
a strange spiritual sweetness, fibre and inward health,
has also attended. Something veil'd and abstracted
is often a part of the manners of these beings. I have
met them, I say, not seldom in the army, in camp, and
in the hospitals. The Western regiments contain
many of them. They are often young men, obeying
the events and occasions about them, marching, sol-
diering, fighting, foraging, cooking, working on farms
or at some trade before the war-unaware of their own
nature, (as to that, who is aware of his own nature?)
their companions only understanding that they are dif-
ferent from the rest, more silent, something odd
about them," and apt to go off and meditate and muse
in solitude.
CULPEPER, VA., Feb. '64.-Here I am pretty well
down toward the extreme front. Three or four days
ago General S., who is now in chief command, (I be-


lieve Meade is absent, sick,) moved a strong force
southward from camp as if intending business. They
went to the Rapidan ; there has since been some
manoeuvring and a little fighting, but nothing of con-
sequence. The telegraphic accounts given Monday
morning last, make entirely too much of it, I should
say. What General S. intended we here know not,
but we trust in that competent commander. We were
somewhat excited, (but not so very much either,) on
Sunday, during the day and night, as orders were sent
out to pack up and harness, and be ready to evacuate,
to fall back towards Washington. But I was very
sleepy and went to bed. Some tremendous shouts
arousing me during the night, I went forth and found
it was from the men above mentioned, who were re-
turning. I talk'd with some of the men; as usual I
found them full of gayety, endurance, and many fine lit-
tle outshows, the signs of the most excellent good man-
liness of the world. It was a curious sight to see those
shadowy columns moving through the night. 1 stood
unobserv'd in the darkness and watch'd them long.
The mud was very deep. The men had their usual
burdens, overcoats, knapsacks, guns and blankets.
Along and along they filed by me, with often a laugh,
a song, a cheerful word, but never once a murmur. It
may have been odd, but I never before so realized the
majesty and reality of the American people en masse.
It fell upon me like a great awe. The strong ranks
moved neither fast nor slow. They had march'd seven
or eight miles already through the slipping unctuous
mud. The brave First corps stopt here. The equally
brave Third corps moved on to Brandy station. The


famous Brooklyn 14th are here, guarding the town.
You see their red legs actively moving everywhere.
Then they have a theatre of their own here. They
give musical performances, nearly everything done capi-
tally. Of course the audience is a jam. It is good
sport to attend one of these entertainments of the 14th.
I like to look around at the soldiers, and the general
collection in front of the curtain, more than the scene
on the stage.

One of the things to note here now is the arrival of
the paymaster with his strong box, and the payment of
bounties to veterans re-enlisting. Major H. is here to-
day, with a small mountain of greenbacks, rejoicing
the hearts of the 2d division of the First corps. In the
midst of a rickety shanty, behind a little table, sit the
major and clerk Eldridge, with the rolls before them,
and much moneys. A re-enlisted man gets in cash
about $200 down, (and heavy instalments following, as
the pay-days arrive, one after another.) The show of the
men crowding around is quite exhilarating; I like to
stand and look. They feel elated, their pockets full,
and the ensuing furlough, the visit home. It is a scene
of sparkling eyes and flush'd cheeks. The soldier has
many gloomy and harsh experiences, and this makes
up for some of them. Major H. is ordered to pay first
all the re-enlisted men of the First corps their bounties
and back pay, and then the rest. You hear the pecul-
iar sound of the rustling of the new and crisp green-
backs by the hour, through the nimble fingers of the
major and my friend clerk E.



I am back again in Washington, on my regular daily
and nightly rounds. Of course there are many special-
ties. Dotting a ward here and there are always cases
of poor fellows, long-suffering under obstinate wounds,
or weak and dishearten'd from typhoid fever, or the
like; mark'd cases, needing special and sympathetic
nourishment. These I sit down and either talk to, or
silently cheer them up. They always like it hugely,
(and so do I.) Each case has its peculiarities, and
needs some new adaptation. I have learnt to thus
conform-learnt a good deal of hospital wisdom.
Some of the poor young chaps, away from home for
the first time in their lives, hunger and thirst for affec-
tion; this is sometimes the only thing that will reach
their condition. The men like to have a pencil, and
something to write in. 1 have given them cheap pock-
et-diaries, and almanacs for 1864, interleav'd with
blank paper. For reading I generally have some old
pictorial magazines or story papers-they are always
acceptable. Also the morning or evening papers of
the day. The best books I do not give, but lend to
read through the wards, and then take them to others,
and so on; they are very punctual about returning the
books. In these wards, or on the field, as I thus con-
tinue to go round, I have come to adapt myself to each
emergency, after its kind or call, however trivial, how-
ever solemn, every one justified and made real under
its circumstances-not only visits and cheering talk
and little gifts-not only washing and dressing wounds,
(I have some cases where the patient is unwilling any


one shall do this but me)-but passages from the Bible,
expounding them, prayer at the bedside, explanations
of doctrine, &c. (I think I see my friends smiling at
this confession, but I was never more in earnest in my
life.) In camp and everywhere, I was in the habit of
reading or giving recitations to the men. They were
very fond of it, and liked declamatory poetical pieces.
We would gather in a large group by ourselves, after
supper, and spend the time in such readings, or in
talking, and occasionally by an amusing game called
the game of twenty questions.

I wonder if I could ever convey to another-to you,
for instance, reader dear-the tender and terrible real-
ities of such cases, (many, many happened,) as the one
I am now going to mention. Stewart C. Glover, com-
pany E, 5th Wisconsin-was wounded May 5, in one
of those fierce tussles of the Wilderness-died May 21
-aged about 20. He was a small and beardless young
man-a splendid soldier-in fact almost an ideal Amer-
ican, of his age. He had serv'd nearly three years, and
would have been entitled to his discharge in a few
days. He was in Hancock's corps. The fighting had
about ceas'd for the day, and the general commanding
the brigade rode by and called for volunteers to bring
in the wounded. Glover responded among the first-
went out gayly-but while in the act of bearing in a
wounded sergeant to our lines, was shot in the knee
by a rebel sharpshooter; consequence, amputation and
death. He had resided with his father, John Glover,
an aged and feeble man, in Batavia, Genesee county,


N. Y., but was at school in Wisconsin, after the war
broke out, and there enlisted-soon took to soldier-
life, liked it, was very manly, was belov'd by officers
and comrades. He kept a little diary, like so many of
the soldiers. On the day of his death he wrote the
following in it, to-day the doctor says I must die-all is
over voith me-ah, so young to die. On another blank
leaf he pencill'd to his brother, dear brother Thomas, I
have been brave but wicked-fray for me.

It is Sunday afternoon, middle of summer, hot and
oppressive, and very silent through the ward. I am
taking care of a critical case, now lying in a half leth-
argy. Near where I sit is a suffering rebel, from the
8th Louisiana; his name is Irving. He has been here
a long time, badly wounded, and lately had his leg am-
putated; it is not doing very well. Right opposite me
is a sick soldier-boy, laid down with his clothes on,
sleeping, looking much wasted, his pallid face on his
arm. I see by the yellow trimming on his jacket that
he is a cavalry boy. 1 step softly over and find by his
card that he is named William Cone, of the ist Maine
cavalry, and his folks live in Skowhegan.
Ice Cream Treat.-One hot day toward the middle
of June, I gave the inmates of Carver hospital a gen-
eral ice cream treat, purchasing a large quantity, and,
under convoy of the doctor or head nurse, going
around personally through the wards to see to its dis-
An Incident.-In one of the fights before Atlanta, a
rebel soldier, of large size, evidently a young man, was


mortally wounded top of the head, so that the brains
partially exuded. He lived three days, lying on his
back on the spot where he first dropt. He dug with
his heel in the ground during that time a hole big
enough to put in a couple of ordinary knapsacks. He
just lay there in the open air, and with little intermis-
sion kept his heel going night and day. Some of our
soldiers then moved him to a house, but he died in a
few minutes.
Another.-After the battles at Columbia, Tennessee,
where we repuls'd about a score of vehement rebel
charges, they left a great many wounded on the
ground, mostly within our range. Whenever any of
these wounded attempted to move away by any means,
generally by crawling off, our men without exception
brought them down by a bullet. They let none crawl
away, no matter what his condition.

Oct. 24.-Saw a large squad of our own deserters,
(over 300) surrounded with a cordon of arm'd guards,
marching along Pennsylvania avenue. The most mot-
ley collection I ever saw, all sorts of rig, all sorts of
hats and caps, many fine-looking young fellows, some
of them shame-faced, some sickly, most of them dirty,
shirts very dirty and long worn, &c. They tramp'd
along without order, a huge huddling mass, not in
ranks. I saw some of the spectators laughing, but I
felt like anything else but laughing. These deserters
are far more numerous than would be thought. Al-
most every day I see squads of them, sometimes two
or three at a time, with a small guard; sometimes ten


or twelve, under a larger one. (I hear that desertions
from the army now in the field have often averaged
o10,000ooo a month. One of the commonest sights in
Washington is a squad of deserters.)

As a very large proportion of the wounded came up
from the front without a cent of money in their pockets,
I soon discovered that it was about the best thing I
could do to raise their spirits, and show them that
somebody cared for them, and practically felt a fatherly
or brotherly interest in them, to give them small sums
in such cases, using tact and discretion about it. I am
regularly supplied with funds for this purpose by good
women and men in Boston, Salem, Providence, Brook-
lyn, and New York. I provide myself with a quantity
of bright new ten-cent and five-cent bills, and, when I
think it incumbent, I give 25 or 30 cents, or perhaps
50 cents, and occasionally a still larger sum to some
particular case. As I have started this subject, I take
opportunity to ventilate the financial question. My
supplies, altogether voluntary, mostly confidential,
often seeming quite Providential, were numerous and
varied. For instance, there were two distant and
wealthy ladies, sisters, who sent regularly, for two years,
quite heavy sums, enjoining that their names should
be kept secret. The same delicacy was indeed a fre-
quent condition. From several I had carte blanche.
Many were entire strangers. From these sources, dur-
ing from two to three years, in the manner described,
in the hospitals, I bestowed, as almoner for others,
many, many thousands of dollars. I learned one thing


conclusively-that beneath all the ostensible greed and
heartlessness of our times there is no end to the gener-
ous benevolence of men and women in the United
States, when once sure of their object. Another thing
became clear to me-while cash is not amiss to bring
up the rear, tact and magnetic sympathy and unction
are, and ever will be, sovereign still.
Some of the half-eras'd, and not over-legible when
made, memoranda of things wanted by one patient or
another, will convey quite a fair idea. D. S. G., bed
52, wants a good book; has a sore, weak throat; would
like some horehound candy; is from New Jersey, 28th
regiment. C. H. L., 145th Pennsylvania, lies in bed
6, with jaundice and erysipelas; also wounded; stom-
ach easily nauseated; bring him some oranges, also a
little tart jelly; hearty, full-blooded young fellow-(he
got better in a few days, and is now home on a fur-
lough.) J. H. G., bed 24, wants an undershirt, drawers,
and socks; has not had a change for quite a while; is
evidently a neat, clean boy from New England-(I sup-
plied him; also with a comb, tooth-brush, and some
soap and towels; I noticed afterward he was the clean-
est of the whole ward.) Mrs. G., lady-nurse, ward F,
wants a bottle of brandy-has two patients imperatively
requiring stimulus-low with wounds and exhaustion.
(I supplied her with a bottle of first-rate brandy from
the Christian commission rooms.)
I must bear my most emphatic testimony to the zeal,
manliness, and professional spirit and capacity, gener-


ally prevailing among the surgeons, many of them
young men, in the hospitals and the army. I will not
say much about the exceptions, for they are few; (but
I have met some of those few, and very incompetent
and airish they were.) I never ceas'd to find the best
men, and the hardest and most disinterested workers,
among-the surgeons in the hospitals. They are full
of genius, too. I have seen many hundreds of them
and this is my testimony. There are, however, serious
deficiencies, wastes, sad want of system, in the com-
missions, contributions, and in all the voluntary, and
a great part of the governmental nursing, edibles,
medicines, stores, &c. (I do not say surgical attend-
ance, because the surgeons cannot do more than hu-
man endurance permits.) Whatever puffing accounts
there may be in the papers of the North, this is the
actual fact. No thorough previous preparation, no
system, no foresight, no genius. Always plenty of
stores, no doubt, but never where they are needed,
and never the proper application. Of all harrowing
experiences, none is greater than that of the days fol-
lowing a heavy battle. Scores, hundreds of the noblest
men on earth, uncomplaining, lie helpless, mangled,
faint, alone, and so bleed to death, or die from ex-
haustion, either actually untouch'd at all, or merely
the laying of them down and leaving them, when there
ought to be means provided to save them.

As I walk'd home about sunset, I saw in Fourteenth
street a very young soldier, thinly clad, standing near
the house I was about to enter. I stopt a moment in


front of the door and called him to me. I knew that
an old Tennessee regiment, and also an Indiana regi-
ment, were temporarily stopping in new barracks, near
Fourteenth street. This boy I found belonged to the
Tennessee regiment. But I could hardly believe he
carried a musket. He was but 15 years old, yet had
been twelve months a soldier, and had borne his part
in several battles, even historic ones. I ask'd him if he
did not suffer from the cold, and if he had no overcoat.
No, he did not suffer from cold, and had no overcoat,
but could draw one whenever he wish'd. His father
was dead, and his mother living in some part of East
Tennessee; all the men were from that part of the
country. The next forenoon I saw the Tennessee and
Indiana regiments marching down the Avenue. My
boy was with the former, stepping along with the rest.
There were many other boys no older. I stood and
watched them as they tramp'd along with slow, strong,
heavy, regular steps. There did not appear to be a
man over 30 years of age, and a large proportion were
from 15 to perhaps 22 or 23. They had all the look of
veterans, worn, stain'd, impassive, and a certain unbent,
lounging gait, carrying in addition to their regular
arms and knapsacks, frequently a frying-pan, broom,&c.
They were all of pleasant physiognomy; no refinement,
nor blanch'd with intellect, but as my eye pick'd them,
moving along, rank by rank, there did not seem to be
a single repulsive, brutal or markedly stupid face among
There are many women in one position or another,
among the hospitals, mostly as nurses here in Wash-


ington, and among the military stations; quite a num-
ber of them young ladies acting as volunteers. They
are a help in certain ways, and deserve to be mentioned
with respect. Then it remains to be distinctly said that
few or no young ladies, under the irresistible conven-
tions of society, answer the practical requirements of
nurses for soldiers. Middle-aged or healthy and good
condition'd elderly women, mothers of children, are
always best. Many of the wounded must be handled.
A hundred things which cannot be gainsay'd, must
occur and must be done. The presence of a good mid-
dle-aged or elderly woman, the magnetic touch of
hands, the expressive features of the mother, the silent
soothing of her presence, her words, her knowledge
and privileges arrived at only through having had
children, are precious and final qualifications. It is a
natural faculty that is required; it is not merely having
a genteel young woman at a table in a ward. One of
the finest nurses I met was a red-faced illiterate old
Irish woman; I have seen her take 'the poor wasted
naked boys so tenderly up in her arms. There are
plenty of excellent clean old black women that would
make tip-top nurses.

Feb. 23, '65.-I saw a large procession of young men
from the rebel army, (deserters they are called, but the
usual meaning of the word does not apply to them,)
passing the Avenue to-day. There were nearly 200,
come up yesterday by boat from James river. I stood
and watch'd them as they shuffled along, in a slow,
tired, worn sort of way; a large proportion of light-


hair'd, blonde, light gray-eyed young men among
them. Their costumes had a dirt-stain'd uniformity;
most had been originally gray; some had articles of our
uniform, pants on one, vest or coat on another; I think
they were mostly Georgia and North Carolina boys.
They excited little or no attention. As I stood quite
close to them, several good looking enough youths,
(but 0 what a tale of misery their appearance told,)
nodded or just spoke to me, without doubt divining
pity and fatherliness out of my face, for my heart was
full enough of it. Several of the couples trudg'd along
with their arms about each other, some probably
brothers, as if they were afraid they might somehow
get separated. They nearly all look'd what one might
call simple, yet intelligent, too. Some had pieces of
old carpet, some blankets, and others old bags around
their shoulders. Some of them here and there had fine
faces, still it was a procession of misery. The two hun-
dred had with them about half a dozen arm'd guards.
Along this week I saw some such procession, more or
less in numbers, every day, as they were brought up by
the boat. The government does what it can for them,
and sends them north and west.

To-night I have been wandering awhile in the capi-
tol, which is all lit up. The illuminated rotunda looks
fine. I like to stand aside and look a long, long while,
up at the dome; it comforts me somehow. The House
and Senate were both in session till very late. I look'd
in upon them, but only a few moments; they were hard
at work on tax appropriation bills. I wander'd through


the long and rich corridors and apartments under the
Senate; an old habit of mine, former winters, and now
more satisfaction than ever. Not many persons down
there, occasionally a flitting figure in the distance.

March 4.-The President very quietly rode down to
the capitol in his own carriage, by himself, on a sharp
trot, about noon, either because he wish'd to be on
hand to sign bills, or to get rid of marching in line
with the absurd procession, the muslin temple of liber-
ty, and pasteboard monitor. I saw him on his return,
at 3 o'clock, after the performance was over. He
was in his plain two-horse barouche, and look'd very
much worn and tired; the lines, indeed, of vast respon-
sibilities, intricate questions, and demands of life and
death, cut deeper than ever upon his dark brown face;
yet all the old goodness, tenderness, sadness, and can-
ny shrewdness, underneath the furrows. (I never see
that man without feeling that he is one to become
personally attached to, for his combination of purest,
heartiest tenderness, and native western form of man-
liness.) By his side sat his little boy, of ten years.
There were no soldiers, only a lot of civilians on horse-
back, with huge yellow scarfs over their shoulders,
riding around the carriage. (At the inauguration four
years ago, he rode down and back again surrounded
by a dense mass of arm'd cavalry-men eight deep, with
drawn sabres; and there were sharp-shooters station'd
at every corner on the route.) I ought to make men-
tion of the closing levee of Saturday night last. Never
before was such a compact jam in front of the White


House-all the grounds fill'd, and away out to the
spacious sidewalks. I was there, as I took a notion to
go-was in the rush inside with the crowd-surged
along the passage-ways, the blue and other rooms,
and through the great east room. Crowds of country
people, some very funny. Fine music from the Marine
band, off in a side place. I saw Mr. Lincoln, drest all
in black, with white kid gloves and a claw-hammer
coat, receiving, as in duty bound, shaking hands,
looking very disconsolate, and as if he would give any-
thing to be somewhere else.

March 6.-I have been up to look at the dance and
supper-rooms, for the inauguration ball at the Patent
office; and I could not help thinking, what a different
scene they presented to my view a while since, filled
with a crowded mass of the worst wounded of the war,
brought in from second Bull Run, Antietam, and
Fredericksburg. To-night, beautiful women, perfumes,
the violins' sweetness, the polka and the waltz; then
the amputation, the blue face, the groan, the glassy
eye of the dying, the clotted rag, the odor of wounds
and blood, and many a mother's son amid strangers,
passing away untended there, (for the crowd of the
badly hurt was great, and much for nurse to do, and
much for surgeon.)

March 27, i865.-Sergeant Calvin F. Harlowe, com-
pany C, 29th Massachusetts, 3d brigade, ist division,
Ninth corps-a mark'd sample of heroism and death,


(some may say bravado, but I say heroism, of grandest,
oldest order)-in the late attack by the rebel troops,
and temporary capture by them, of Fort Stedman, at
night. The fort was surprised at dead of night. Sud-
denly awaken'd from their sleep, and rushing from
their tents, Harlowe, with others, found himself in the
hands of the secesh-they demanded his surrender-
he answered, Never while I live. (Of course it was use-
less. The others surrendered; the odds were too great.)
Again he was ask'd to yield, this time by a rebel cap-
tain. Though surrounded, and quite calm, he again
refused, called sternly to his comrades to fight on, and
himself attempted to do so. The rebel captain then
shot him-but at the same instant he shot the captain.
Both fell together mortally wounded. Harlowe died
almost instantly. The rebels were driven out in a very
short time. The body was buried next day, but soon
taken up and sent home, (Plymouth county, Mass.)
Harlowe was only 22 years of age-was a tall, slim,
dark-hair'd, blue-eyed young man-had come out orig-
inally with the 29th; and that is the way he met his
death, after four years' campaign. He was in the
Seven Days fight before Richmond, in second Bull
Run, Antietam, first Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, Jack-
son, Wilderness, and the campaigns following-was
as good a soldier as ever wore the blue, and every
old officer in the regiment will bear that testimony.
Though so young, and in a common rank, he had a
spirit as resolute and brave as any hero in the books,
ancient or modern-It was too great to say the words
"I surrender "-and so he died. (When I think of
such things, knowing them well, all the vast and com-


plicated events of the war, on which history dwells and
makes its volumes, fall aside, and for the moment at
any rate I see nothing but young Calvin Harlowe's fig-
ure in the night, disdaining to surrender.)


The war is over, but the hospitals are fuller than
ever, from former and current cases. A large majority
of the wounds are in the arms and legs. But there is
every kind of wound, in every part of the body. I
should say of the sick, from my observation, that the
prevailing maladies are typhoid fever and the camp
fevers generally, diarrhea, catarrhal affections and
bronchitis, rheumatism and pneumonia. These forms
of sickness lead; all the rest follow. There are twice
as many sick as there are wounded. The deaths range
from seven to ten per cent. of those under treatment.*


April 16, '65.-I find in my notes of the time, this
passage on the death of Abraham Lincoln: He leaves
for America's history and biography, so far, not only
its most dramatic reminiscence -he leaves, in my
opinion, the greatest, best, most characteristic, artistic,
moral personality. Not but that he had faults, and
show'd them in the Presidency; but honesty, goodness,
shrewdness, conscience, and (a new virtue, unknown

In the U. S. Surgeon-General's office since, there is a formal record and
treatment of 253,142 cases of wounds by government surgeons. What must
have been the number unofficial, indirect-to say nothing of the Southern
armies ?


to other lands, and hardly yet really known here, but
the foundation and tie of all, as the future will grandly
develop,) UNIONISM, in its truest and amplest sense,
form'd the hard-pan of his character. These he seal'd
with his life. The tragic splendor of his death, purg-
ing, illuminating all, throws round his form, his head,
an aureole that will remain and will grow brighter
through time, while history lives, and love of country
lasts. By many has this Union been help'd; but if one
name, one man, must be pick'd out, he, most of all, is
the conservator of it, to the future. He was assassin-
ated-but the Union is not assassinated-fa ira /! One
falls, and another falls. The soldier drops, sinks like
a wave-but the ranks of the ocean eternally press on.
Death does its work, obliterates a hundred, a thousand
-President, general, captain, private-but the Nation
is immortal.


When Sherman's armies, (long after they left At-
lanta,) were marching through South and North Caro-
lina-after leaving Savannah, the news of Lee's capitu-
lation having been receiv'd-the men never mov'd a
mile without from some part of the line sending up
continued, inspiriting shouts. At intervals all day
long sounded out the wild music of those peculiar
army cries. They would be commenc'd by one regi-
ment or'brigade, immediately taken up by others, and
at length whole corps and armies would join in these
wild triumphant choruses. It was one of the char-
acteristic expressions of the western troops, and became


a habit, serving as a relief and outlet to the men-a
vent for their feelings of victory, returning peace, &c.
Morning, noon, and afternoon, spontaneous, for occa-
sion or without occasion, these huge, strange cries,
differing from any other, echoing through the open air
for many a mile, expressing youth, joy, wildness, irre-
pressible strength, and the ideas of advance and con-
quest, sounded along the swamps and uplands of the
South, floating to the skies. (" There never were men
that kept in better spirits in danger or defeat-what
then could they do in victory ? "-said one of the 15th
corps to me, afterwards.) This exuberance continued
till the armies arrived at Raleigh. There the news of
the President's murder was received. Then no more
shouts or yells, for a week. All the marching was
comparatively muffled. It was very significant-hardly
a loud word or laugh in many of the regiments. A
hush and silence pervaded all.

Probably the reader has seen physiognomies (often
old farmers, sea-captains, and such) that, behind their
homeliness, or even ugliness, held superior points so
subtle, yet so palpable, making the real life of their
faces almost as impossible to depict as a wild perfume
or fruit-taste, or a passionate tone of the living voice-
and such was Lincoln's face, the peculiar color, the
lines of it, the eyes, mouth, expression. Of technical
beauty it had nothing-but to the eye of a great artist
it furnished a rare study, a feast and fascination. The
current portraits are all failures-most of them carica-



The released prisoners of war are now coming up
from the southern prisons. I have seen a number of
them. The sight is worse than any sight of battle-
fields, or any collection of wounded, even the bloodiest.
There was, (as a sample,) one large boat load, of sev-
eral hundreds, brought about the 25th, to Annapolis;
and out of the whole number only three individuals
were able to walk from the boat. The rest were carried
ashore and laid down in one place or another. Can
those be men-those little livid brown, ash-streak'd,
monkey-looking dwarfs ?-are they really not mum-
mied, dwindled corpses? They lay there, most of
them, quite still, but with a horrible look in their eyes
and skinny lips (often with not enough flesh on the
lips to cover their teeth.) Probably no more appalling
sight was ever seen on this earth. (There are deeds,
crimes, that may be forgiven; but this is not among
them. It steeps its perpetrators in blackest, escape-
less, endless damnation. Over 50,000 have been com-
pell'd to die the death of starvation-reader, did you
ever try to realize what starvation actually is ?-in
those prisons-and in a land of plenty.) An indescrib-
able meanness, tyranny, aggravating course of insults,
almost incredible-was evidently the rule of treatment
through all the southern military prisons. The dead
there are not to be pitied as much as some of the liv-
ing that come from there-if they can be called living
-many of them are mentally imbecile, and will never



MAay 7.-Sunday.-To-day as I was walking a mile
or two south of Alexandria, I fell in with several large
squads of the returning Western army, (Sherman's men
as they called themselves) about a thousand in all, the
largest portion of them half sick, some convalescents,
on their way to a hospital camp. These fragmentary
excerpts, with the unmistakable Western physiognomy
and idioms, crawling along slowly-after a great cam-
paign, blown this way, as it were, out of their latitude
-I mark'd with curiosity, and talk'd with off and on
for over an hour. Here and there was one very sick;
but all were able to walk, except some of the last, who
had given out, and were seated on the ground, faint
and despondent. These I tried to cheer, told them the
camp they were to reach was only a little way further
over the hill, and so got them up and started, accompa-
nying some of the worst a little way, and helping them,
or putting them under the support of stronger com-
May 21.-Saw General Sheridan and his cavalry to-
day; a strong, attractive sight; the men were mostly
young, (a few middle-aged,) superb-looking fellows,
brown, spare, keen, with well-worn clothing, many
with pieces of water-proof cloth around their shoulders,
hanging down. They dash'd along pretty fast, in wide
close ranks, all spatter'd with mud; no holiday soldiers;
brigade after brigade. I could have watched for a
week. Sheridan stood on a balcony, under a big tree,
coolly smoking a cigar. His looks and manner im-
press'd me favorably.


May 22.-Have been taking a walk along Pennsyl-
vania avenue and Seventh street north. The city is
full of soldiers, running around loose. Officers every-
where, of all grades. All have the weather-beaten look
of practical service. It is a sight I never tire of. All
the armies are now here (or portions of them,) for to-
morrow's review. You see them swarming like bees
For two days now the broad spaces of Pennsylvania
avenue along to Treasury hill, and so by detour around
to the President's house, and so up to Georgetown, and
across the aqueduct bridge, have been alive with a mag-
nificent sight, the returning armies. In their wide
ranks stretching clear across the Avenue, I watch them
march or ride along, at a brisk pace, through two
whole days-infantry, cavalry, artillery-some 200,000
men. Some days afterwards one or two other corps;
and then, still afterwards, a good part of Sherman's
immense army, brought up from Charleston, Savan-
nah, &c.
May 28-9.-I staid to-night a long time by the bed-
side of a new patient, a young Baltimorean, aged about
19 years, W. S. P., (2d Maryland, southern,) very fee-
ble, right leg amputated, can't sleep hardly at all-has
taken a great deal of morphine, which, as usual, is
costing more than it comes to. Evidently very intelli-
gent and well bred-very affectionate-held on to my
hand, and put it by his face, not willing to let me
leave. As I was lingering, soothing him in his pain, he


says to me suddenly, I hardly think you know who
I am-I don't wish to impose upon you-I am a rebel
soldier." I said I did not know that, but it made no
difference. Visiting him daily for about two weeks
after that, while he lived, (death had mark'd him, and
he was quite alone,) I loved him much, always kiss'd
him, and he did me. In an adjoining ward I found his
brother, an officer of rank, a Union soldier, a brave
and religious man, (Col. Clifton K. Prentiss, Sixth
Maryland infantry, Sixth corps, wounded in one of the
engagements at Petersburg, April 2-linger'd, suffered
much, died in Brooklyn, Aug. 20, '65.) It was in the
same battle both were hit. One was a strong Union-
ist, the other Secesh; both fought on their respective
sides, both badly wounded, and both brought together
here after a separation of four years. Each died for
his cause.

In one of the hospital tents for special cases, as I sat
to-day tending a new amputation, I heard a couple of
neighboring soldiers talking to each other from their
cots. One down with fever, but improving, had come
up belated from Charleston not long before. The oth-
er is what we now call an "old veteran," (i. e., he was
a Connecticut youth, of probably less than the age of
twenty-five years, the four last of which he had spent
in active service in the war in all parts of the country.)
The two were chatting of one thing and another. The
fever soldier spoke of John C. Calhoun's monument,
which he had seen, and was describing it. The veter-
an said: "I have seen Calhoun's monument. That


you saw is not the real monument. But I have seen
it. It is the desolated, ruined south; nearly the whole
generation of young men between seventeen and thirty
destroyed or maim'd; all the old families used up-the
rich impoverished, the plantations cover'd with weeds,
the slaves unloos'd and become the masters, and the
name of southerner blacken'd with every shame-all
that is Calhoun's real monument."

October 3.-There are two army hospitals now re-
maining. I went to the largest of these (Douglas) and
spent the afternoon and evening. There are many
sad cases, old wounds, incurable sickness, and some
of the wounded from the March and April battles be-
fore Richmond. Few realize how sharp and bloody
those closing battles were. Our men exposed them-
selves more than usual; press'd ahead without urging.
Then the southerners fought with extra desperation.
Both sides knew that with the successful chasing of
the rebel cabal from Richmond, and the occupation of
that city by the national troops, the game was up.
The dead and wounded were unusually many. Of the
wounded the last lingering driblets have been brought
to hospital here. I find many rebel wounded here,
and have been extra busy to-day 'tending to the worst
cases of them with the rest.
Oct., Nov. and Dec., '65-Sundays.-Every Sunday
of these months visited Harewood hospital out in the
woods, pleasant and recluse, some two and a half or
three miles north of the capitol. The situation is
healthy, with broken ground, grassy slopes and patch-


es of oak woods, the trees large and fine. It was one
of the most extensive of the hospitals, now reduced to
four or five partially occupied wards, the numerous
others being vacant. In November, this became the
last military hospital kept up by the government, all
the others being closed. Cases of the worst and most
incurable wounds, obstinate illness, and of poor fellows
who have no homes to go to, are found here.
The roads.-A great recreation, the past three years,
has been in taking long walks out from Washington,
five, seven, perhaps ten miles and back; generally with
my friend Peter Doyle, who is as fond of it as I am.
Fine moonlight nights, over the perfect military roads,
hard and smooth-or Sundays-we had these delight-
ful walks, never to be forgotten. The roads connect-
ing Washington and the numerous forts around the
city, made one useful result, at any rate, out of the

Even the typical soldiers I have been personally in-
timate with,-it seems to me if I were to make a list
of them it would be like a city directory. Some few
only have I mentioned in the foregoing pages-most
are dead-a few yet living. There is Reuben Farwell.
of Michigan, (little Mitch ;') Benton H. Wilson, color-
bearer, 185th New York ; Wm. Stansberry ; Manvill
Winterstein, Ohio; Bethuel Smith; Capt. Simms, of
51st New York, killedd at Petersburg mine explosion,)
Capt. Sam. Pooley and Lieut. Fred. McReady, same
reg't. Also, same reg't., my brother, George W. Whit-
man-in active service all through, four years, re-


enlisting twice-was promoted, step by step, (several
times immediately after battles,) lieutenant, captain,
major and lieut. colonel-was in the actions at Roan-
oke, Newbern, 2d Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mount-
ain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, Jackson,
the bloody conflicts of the Wilderness, and at Spot-
sylvania, Cold Harbor, and afterwards around Peters-
burg; at one of these latter was taken prisoner, and
passed four or five months in secesh military prisons,
narrowly escaping with life, from a severe fever, from
starvation and half-nakedness in the winter. (What a
history that 5 ist New York had Went out early-
march'd, fought everywhere-was in storms at sea,
nearly wreck'd-storm'd forts-tramp'd hither and yon
in Virginia, night and day, summer of '62-afterwards
Kentucky and Mississippi-re-enlisted-was in all the
engagements and campaigns, as above.) I strengthen
and comfort myself much with the certainty that the
capacity for just such regiments, (hundreds, thousands
of them) is inexhaustible in the United States, and that
there isn't a county nor a township in the republic-
nor a street in any city-but could turn out, and, on
occasion, would turn out, lots of just such typical sol-
diers, whenever wanted.

As I have look'd over the proof-sheets of the pre-
ceding pages, I have once or twice fear'd that my diary
would prove, at best, but a batch of convulsively writ-
ten reminiscences. Well, be it so. They are but parts
of the actual distraction, heat, smoke and excitement
of those times. The war itself, with the temper of so-

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