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Your letter and George's came safe dear brother George, one don't more than get a letter from him before you want to hear again, especially as things are looking pretty stormy that way but mother, I rather lean to the opinion that the fist is still in Kentucky, at or near where George last wrote ; but of course that is only my guess. I send George papers and occasionally letters. Mother, I sent him enclosed your letter before the last, though you said in it not to tell him how much money he had home, as you wanted to surprise him ; but I sent it. Mother, I think Rosecrans and Burnside will be too much for the Rebels down there yet. I myself make a great acc't of Burnside being in the midst of friends and such friends too they will fight and fight up to the handle, and kill somebody (it seems as if it was coming to that pass where we will either have to destroy or be destroyed). Mother, I wish you would write soon after you get this, or Jeff or Mat must, and tell me about Andrew, if there is anything different with him I think about him every day and night. I believe I must come home, even if it is only for a week I want to see you all very much. Mother, I know you must have a great deal to harass and trouble you ; I don't mean about Andrew personally, for I know you would feel to give your life to save his, and do anything to nourish him, but about the children and Nancy but, mother, you must not let anything chafe you, and you must not be squeamish about saying firmly at times not to have little Georgy too much to trouble you (poor little fellow, I have no doubt he will be a pleasanter child when he grows older) ; and while you are pleasant with Nancy you must be sufficiently plain with her only, mother, I know you will, and Jeff and Mat will too, be invariably good to Andrew, and not mind his being irritable at times ; it is his disease, and then his temper is naturally fretful, but it is such a misfortune to have such sickness and always do anything for him that you can in reason. Mat, my dear sister, I know you will, for I know your nature is to come out a first-class girl in times of trouble and sickness, and do anything. Mother, you don't know how pleased I was to read what you wrote about little Sis. I want to see her so bad I don't know what to do ; I know she must be just the best young one on Long Island but I hope it will not be understood as meaning any slight or disrespect to Miss Hat, nor to put her nose out of joint, because Uncle Walt, I hope, has heart and gizzard big enough for both his little nieces and as many more as the Lord may send. Mother, I am writing this in Major Hapgood's office, as usual. I am all alone to-day Major is still absent, unwell, and the clerk is away somewhere. O how pleasant it is here the weather I mean and other things too, for that matter. I still occupy my little room, 394 L St.; get my own breakfast there; had good tea this morning, and some nice biscuit (yesterday morning and day before had peaches cut up). My friends the O'Connors that I wrote about recommenced cooking the 1st of this month (they have been, as usual in summer, taking their meals at a family hotel near by). Saturday they sent for me to breakfast, and Sunday I eat dinner with them very good dinner, roast beef, lima beans, good potatoes, etc. They are truly friends to me. I still get my dinner at a restaurant usually. I have a very good plain dinner, which is the only meal of any account I make during the day; but it is just as well, for I would be in danger of getting fat on the least encouragement, and I have no ambition that way. Mother, it is lucky I like Washington in many respects, and that things are upon the whole pleasant personally, for every day of my life I see enough to make one's heart ache with sympathy and anguish here in the hospitals, and I do not know as I could stand it if it was not counterbalanced outside. It is curious, when I am present at the most appalling things deaths, operations, sickening wounds (perhaps full of maggots) I do not fail, although my sympathies are very much excited, but keep singularly cool ; but often hours afterward, perhaps when I am home or out walking alone, I feel sick and actually tremble when I recall the thing and have it in my mind again before me. Mother, did you see my letter in the N. Y. Times of Sunday, Oct. 4? That was the long-delayed letter. Mother, I am very sorry Jeff did not send me the Union with my letter in I wish very much he could do so yet; and always when I have a letter in a paper I would like to have one sent. If you take the Union, send me some once in a while. Mother, was it Will Brown sent me those ? Tell him if so I was much obliged ; and if he or Mr. and Mrs. Brown take any interest in hearing my scribblings, mother, you let them read the letters, of course. O, I must not close without telling you the highly important intelligence that I have cut my hair and beard since the event Rosecrans, Charleston, etc., etc., have among my acquaintances been hardly mentioned, being insignificant themes in comparison. Jeff, my dearest brother, I have been going to write you a good gossipy letter for two or three weeks past; will try to yet, so it will reach you for Sunday reading so good-bye, Jeff, and good-bye for present, mother dear, and all, and tell Andrew he must not be discouraged yet. WALT.
- Walt Whitman
- THE WOUND DRESSER A Series of Letters Written from the Hospitals in Washington During the War of the Rebellion, Walt Whitman, 1898