Two Brothers, One South, One North

by Walt Whitman


Excerpt from "Army Hospitals And Cases - Memoranda At The Time, 1863 - 1866". "The following memoranda describe some of the last cases and hospital scenes of the war, from my own observation."


Two brothers, one South, one North. - May 28 - 29, 1865. - I staid to-night a long time by the bedside of a new patient, a young Baltimorean, aged about nineteen years, W. S. P. (2d Maryland, Southern), very feeble, right leg amputated, can’t sleep; has taken a great deal of morphine, which, as usual, is costing more than it comes to. Evidently very intelligent and well-bred; very affectionate; held on to my hand, and put it by his face, not willing to let me leave. As I was lingering, soothing him in his pain, he says to me suddenly: "I hardly think you know who I am. I don’t wish to impose upon you - I am a rebel soldier." I said I did not know that, but it made no difference. Visiting him daily for about two weeks after that, while he lived (death had marked him, and he was quite alone), I loved him much, always kissed him, and he did me. In an adjoining ward I found his brother, an officer of rank, a Union soldier, a brave and religious man (Colonel Clifton K. Prentiss, 6th Maryland Infantry, Sixth Corps, wounded in one of the engagements at Petersburg, April 2, lingered, suffered much, died in Brooklyn, August 20, 1865). It was in the same battle both were hit. One was a strong Unionist, the other Secesh; both fought on their respective sides, both badly wounded, and both brought together here after a separation of four years. Each died for his cause.



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