Nonfiction > Walt Whitman > Prose Works > I. Specimen Days > 43. A New York Soldier
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Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Prose Works. 1892.
  
I. Specimen Days
43. A New York Soldier
  
THIS afternoon, July 22d, I have spent a long time with Oscar F. Wilber, company G, 154th New York, low with chronic diarrhœa, and a bad wound also. He asked me to read him a chapter in the New Testament. I complied, and ask’d him what I should read. He said, “Make your own choice.” I open’d at the close of one of the first books of the evangelists, and read the chapters describing the latter hours of Christ, and the scenes at the crucifixion. The poor, wasted young man ask’d me to read the following chapter also, how Christ rose again. I read very slowly, for Oscar was feeble. It pleased him very much, yet the tears were in his eyes. He ask’d me if I enjoy’d religion. I said, “Perhaps not, my dear, in the way you mean, and yet, may-be, it is the same thing.” He said, “It is my chief reliance.” He talk’d of death, and said he did not fear it. I said, “Why, Oscar, don’t you think you will get well?” He said, “I may, but it is not probable.” He spoke calmly of his condition. The wound was very bad, it discharg’d much. Then the diarrhœa had prostrated him, and I felt that he was even then the same as dying. He behaved very manly and affectionate. The kiss I gave him as I was about leaving he return’d fourfold. He gave me his mother’s address, Mrs. Sally D. Wilber, Alleghany post-office, Cattaraugus county, N. Y. I had several such interviews with him. He died a few days after the one just described.   1

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