Walt Whitman's War Poetry

By the fall of 1861, Walt Whitman had come to believe he needed to do something for the war effort. His first act was to contribute a patriotic broadside in verse.

Walt Whitman was standing in a deserted battlefield on Christmas Day 1862, scribbling in a small notebook. Dead horses and mules littered the countryside. Splintered stumps stood where fine, stately oaks and maples had recently grown. The earth, loamy, damp, and smelling of minerals, was churned from artillery. Standing in the aftermath of battle, Whitman could "hear plainly the music of a good band, at some Brigadier’s headquarters, a mile and a half away." Something about the music altered his mood, made him both pensive and hopeful. The landscape was suddenly transformed.

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(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
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