Brooklyn poet and journalist Walt Whitman rushed to Chatham Manor following the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg. His brother was listed among the wounded.
What Whitman encountered changed his life. "Rather than returning to New York after finding his brother, the poet felt compelled to move to Washington and serve as a hospital volunteer," writes Jamie Stiehm in The New York Times.
"Later, he said his Civil War experience bearing witness — he came from a Quaker family — “saved” him. He found meaning in befriending the weak and wounded, bearing small gifts, playing games and writing letters home to their families, often farewells," Stiehm writes.
Whitman’s poem "The Wound Dresser" includes these lines:
I sit by the restless all the dark night, some are so young,
Some suffer so much, I recall the experience sweet and sad
For more on Walt Whitman and the Civil War, see Stiehm's complete story, Whitman in Washington.
In addition, see Patch story Local Historian Leads CNN on Chatham Tour and the topic page The Battle of Fredericksburg 150th -- a list of story links.
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