Letter written by Walt Whitman on behalf of dying soldier found



2016-03-10 16:26:47

A rare letter written by Walt Whitman on behalf of an illiterate and dying soldier has been discovered in the National Archives of the United States. 

The letter was written on behalf of the 8th New Hampshire infantry Pvt. Robert N. Jabo who was in hospital with  tuberculosis and needed to contact his family when the great American poet took up the pen for him. The letter begins 'To my dear wife' followed by an apology for not writing sooner before going on to note that the letter was in fact being written by “a friend who is now sitting by my side.” Whitman eventually identifies himself as 'a friend' on a postscript. 

11 months later Pvt. Robert N. Jabo sadly passed away alone and penniless in Washington’s Providence Hospital. 

Whitman often paid visits to local hospitals bringing with him snacks and money for injured soldiers and regularly wrote letters home for those unable to do so themselves. Sadly only a few of these letters have ever been re discovered and now, Librarian Catherine Cusack Wilson has found another in among files at the National Archives of the United States. 

There are only 2 other examples of these letters written by Whitman known to exist though he wrote many others during his hospital visits. It is now believed that many others are contained within the National Archives. 


Write a response...

The bookmarklet lets you save things you find to your collections.

Note: Make sure your bookmarks are visible.


Click and drag the Collect It button to your browser's Bookmark Bar.

collect it