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Your letter came yesterday. I have not heard the least thing from the 51st since no doubt they are down there with the army near Richmond. I have not written to George lately. I think the news from the Army is very good. Mother, you know of course that it is now very near Richmond indeed, from five to ten miles. Mother, if this campaign was not in progress I should not stop here, as it is now beginning to tell a little upon me, so many bad wounds, many putrefied, and all kinds of dreadful ones, I have been rather too much with but as it is, I certainly remain here while the thing remains undecided. It is impossible for me to abstain from going to see and minister to certain cases, and that draws me into others, and so on. I have just left Oscar Cunningham, the Ohio boy he is in a dying condition there is no hope for him it would draw tears from the hardest heart to look at him he is all wasted away to a skeleton, and looks like some one fifty years old. You remember I told you a year ago, when he was first brought in, I thought him the noblest specimen of a young Western man I had seen, a real giant in size, and always with a smile on his face. O what a change. He has long been very irritable to every one but me, and his frame is all wasted away. The young Massachusetts 1st artillery boy, Cutter, I wrote about is dead. He is the one that was brought in a week ago last Sunday badly wounded in breast. The deaths in the principal hospital I visit, Armory-square, average one an hour.
I saw Capt. Baldwin of the 14th this morning; he has lost his left arm is going home soon. Mr. Kalbfleisch and Anson Herrick, (M. C. from New York), came in one of the wards where I was sitting writing a letter this morning, in the midst of the wounded. Kalbfleisch was so much affected by the sight that he burst into tears. O, I must tell you, I [gave] in Carver hospital a great treat of ice cream, a couple of days ago went round myself through about 15 large wards (I bought some ten gallons, very nice). You would have cried and been amused too. Many of the men had to be fed ; several of them I saw cannot probably live, yet they quite enjoyed it. I gave everybody some quite a number [of] Western country boys had never tasted ice cream before. They relish such things [as] oranges, lemons, etc. Mother, I feel a little blue this morning, as two young men I knew very well have just died. One died last night, and the other about half an hour before I went to the hospital. I did not anticipate the death of either of them. Each was a very, very sad case, so young. Well mother, I see I have written you another gloomy sort of letter. I do not feel as first rate as usual. WALT.
You don't know how I want to come home and see you all ; you, dear mother, and Jeff and Mat and all. I believe I am homesick something new for me then I have seen all the horrors of soldiers' life and not been kept up by its excitement. It is awful to see so much, and not be able to relieve it.
- THE WOUND DRESSER A Series of Letters Written from the Hospitals in Washington During the War of the Rebellion, Walt Whitman, 1898