Specializing in Authentic Civil War Artifacts
  • George Washington Whitman Major 51st New York Infantry Brother of Walt Whitman / SOLD

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    George Washington Whitman Major 51st New York Infantry Brother of Walt Whitman - Inventory Number: ALB 246 /SOLD 

    Civil War Union Army Officer. Ten years younger than his famous poet brother, he was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1834 he moved with his parents Walter and Louisa and his siblings to Long Island, New York. In "My Boys and Girls" Walt Whitman remembers happy boyhood times when he carried his brother on his shoulders, "his legs dangling down upon my breast, while I trotted for sport down a lane or over the fields" George received his fundamental education from his lauded older sibling when Walt was the local schoolmaster. Later, he was trained in carpentry by his father and worked alongside his brothers Andrew and Walt in the family trade of building houses. In 1885 George was quoted as saying about his brother's famous work "Leaves of Grass": "I saw the book—didn't read it all—didn't think it worth reading..." Named after America's first president, George lived up to the legacy of patriotism when he responded to the Rebel attack on Fort Sumter by joining the local militia, The 13th New York, in the spring of 1861 and then enlisted that fall with the 51st New York Volunteers and served until the end of the war. After George was injured by shell fragments to the jaw during the Battle of Fredericksburg, his older brother rushed to his side to nurse him back to health. The experience inspired Walt Whitman to write many famous poems and letters and continue to volunteer to aid the troops. In "Specimen Days" George Whitman's battleground heroism at New Bern, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Second Bull Run, the Wilderness, and Petersburg were recounted for posterity and reflected in the stripes (sergeant, captain, major, breveted lieutenant colonel) he successively earned during his military service. After the war, George Whitman returned to Brooklyn. He obtained work inspecting iron pipes in Brooklyn and Camden, New Jersey. He married Louisa Orr Haslam on 14 April 1871 and settled in Camden. A year later, he moved his ailing mother and retarded brother Edward in with them. When Walt Whitman suffered a debilitating stroke in January 1873 and went to George's home to convalesce. The brothers lived amicably together. George and Louisa named their first son, who died in infancy, after Walt. (A second boy, named for his father, was still born.) George worked the rest of his life as a pipe inspector for the city of Camden and the New York Metropolitan Water Board. In 1884 George and Louisa moved into a new house they had built on a small farm outside Camden. The separation of the brothers caused a permanent rift. Cause of death- natural causes.


    Inventory Number: ALB 246 / SOLD