Regular friends of the decanter may recall that in honor of the Civil War sesquicentennial ol’ Robbo was rereading his copy of Stephen Spear’s Landscape Turned Red to mark the Battle of Antietam Creek that was fought 150 years ago last Monday?  Well, in fact I finished it and, because the book goes on to cover Lincoln’s sacking of Little Mac and appointment of a reluctant Burnside to command of the Army of the Potomac in November 1862, am now chronologically ahead of the game, at least as far as the Virginia theater goes.

Anyhoo, although I’ve read the book a couple times before, it was only this time around that an interesting little piece of trivia got caught in the grease trap that is Robbo’s braim.  Do you know who this fellah is?  He’s George Washington Whitman, younger brother of poet Walt.  Whitman enlisted as a private in the 51st New York Volunteer Regiment, where he quickly rose in rank, eventually becoming (I believe) a captain.  At any rate, the trivia bit that I wanted to highlight was that he actually took part in the Union attack on Burnside’s Bridge, writing a letter home about it a couple days later that Spear cites a couple times in his book.  (Well, I think it’s interesting.)

A bit of perusal reveals that George had quite the war career serving in the IX Corp.  He was wounded by a shell fragment at Fredericksburg and later was an eye-witness of the Battle of the Crater before Petersburg.  He was captured in 1864 and spent some time in Libby Prison, too.  Evidently, ol’ Walt admired the man tremendously.  And I believe it was Walt’s trip to find and comfort George after Fredericksburg that got the old, ah, um….., got Walt interested in volunteer nursing.

As Johnny Carson used to say, I did not know that.

UPDATE: Oh, let me just clarify that I have absolutely no interest a-tall, a-tall, in the poetry of Walt Whitman.  I throw the matter out as historickal trivia, not literary.