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Cultural Essay: “Letter from Virginia”

Shortly after the Battle of Fredericksburg, Walt Whitman traveled to Falmouth, Virginia in search of his wounded brother.

There he discovered his Civil War vocation when he assisted the wounded in Chatham Manor, which had been commandeered by the Union army and turned into a field hospital. Outside, at the foot of two trees, he saw a pile of amputated limbs surgeons had thrown out of an adjacent window in the haste of emergency. Those two catalpa trees still stand, and they have provided leaves for chlorophyll prints holding the images of Union soldiers.

Leaves, limbs, and phantom limbs figure in this essay, which appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of The Hudson Review.