Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

Edited by Louis P. Masur

in “… The Real War Will Never Get in the Books”

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098372
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853908 | DOI:
Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

Show Summary Details


The Civil War, Walt Whitman claimed, could not, should not, be written about, yet he never stopped writing. He wrote profusely in notebooks, letters, editorials, and poems during the war; Memoranda During the War afterwards; and then Specimen Days. Of all the American writers at the time, no one was touched more deeply by the war than Whitman. He often recalled where he had been when news of the attack on Fort Sumter first spread. Returning from the opera around midnight, he had been walking down Broadway on his way home to Brooklyn when he heard the shrieks of newsboys. He bought one of the Extras and crossed to Niblo's, where a crowd had gathered. He stood in stunned silence and then trudged home. Forty-one at the time, Whitman may have been expected to enlist; years later critics such as Thomas Wentworth Higginson would condemn him for not fighting. However, Whitman found another way to serve. He devoted himself to the sick and wounded and dying soldiers.

Keywords: Civil War; Walt Whitman; Specimen Days; Fort Sumter; Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Chapter.  15191 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.