Aired: October 16, 2010

Whitman at War

In 1862, poet Walt Whitman went to Fredericksburg, Virginia, searching for his brother George who had been wounded in a Civil War battle. Whitman was so moved by the carnage he found that he worked as a nurse for the rest of the war.   Mara Scanlon and Brady Earnhart (University of Mary Washington) say Whitman was helping heal wounded soldiers in the same way he hoped his poetry could heal the war-torn nation. Also featured: Beating hearts under floorboards and ominous ravens — Edgar Allen Poe is remembered as one of literature’s darkest and most macabre figures.  But Jerome McGann (University of Virginia) says Poe was actually more charming and humorous than his famous dark fiction suggests.


Want to dig deeper? Explore Encyclopedia Virginia:

First Battle of Manassas (1861)

Battle of Fredericksburg (1862)

Civil War Medicine

Edgar Allan Poe

Southern Literary Messenger



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