Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15, 1863

April 15, 1863

---Walt Whitman, the poet, writes to his mother in Brooklyn from Washington, where he spends his days looking after wounded and ill soldiers:

I spent three to four hours yesterday in Armory hospital. One of my particular boys there was dying—pneumonia—he wanted me to stop with him awhile; he could not articulate—but the look of his eyes, and the holding on of his hand was deeply affecting. His case is a relapse—eight days ago he had recovered, was up, was perhaps a little careless—at any rate took cold, was taken down again and has sank rapidly. He has no friends or relatives here. Yesterday he labored and panted so for breath, it was terrible. He is a young man from New England, from the country. I expected to see his cot vacated this afternoon or evening, as I shall go down then. Mother, if you or Mat was here a couple of days, you would cry your eyes out. I find I have to restrain myself and keep my composure—I succeed pretty well.

---Lt. Col. Arthur Fremantle notes in his journal his meeting Gen. John Magruder, commander of the Department, as he travels across Texas:

15th April (Wednesday).—I slept well last night in spite of the tics and fleas, and we started at 5.30 p.m. After passing a dead rattlesnake eight feet long, we reached water at 7 a.m.

At 9 a.m. we espied the cavalcade of General Magruder passing us by a parallel track about half a mile distant. . . . I galloped up to the front, and found the General riding with a lady who was introduced to me as Mrs ——, an undeniably pretty woman, wife to an officer on Magruder's staff, and she is naturally the object of intense attention to all the good-looking officers who accompany the General through this desert.

General Magruder, who commands in Texas, is a fine soldierlike man, of about fifty-five, with broad shoulders, a florid complexion, and bright eyes. He wears his whiskers and mustaches in the English fashion, and he was dressed in the Confederate grey uniform. . . . He is a Virginian, a great talker, and has always been a great ally of English officers. . . . I had a long and agreeable conversation with the General, who spoke of the Puritans with intense disgust, and of the first importation of them as "that pestiferous crew of the Mayflower;" but he is by no means rancorous against individual Yankees. He spoke very favourably of M'Clellan, whom he knew to be a gentleman, clever, and personally brave, though he might lack moral courage to face responsibility. Magruder had commanded the Confederate troops at Yorktown which opposed M'Clellan's advance. He told me the different dodges he had resorted to, to blind and deceive the latter as to his (Magruder's) strength; and he spoke of the intense relief and amusement with which he had at length seen M'Clellan with his magnified army begin to break ground before miserable earthworks, defended only by 8000 men.

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