WALT WHITMAN, SOLDIERS’ MISSIONARY

WASHINGTON DC — With the Civil War raging, death haunted the nation’s capital. Long rows of cots stretched through makeshift hospitals, filling churches, taverns, and schools. By the end of 1862, some 13,000 men lay shattered, sick, clinging to life. Then early in January, a gray-bearded man with gentle eyes and a flower in his lapel began roaming these scenes of suffering. He was neither doctor nor nurse. He was a poet.

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