The Battle of Gettysburg took the lives of 51,000 men. Out of this 3-day battle came Walt Whitman's collection of poems, entitled "Drum-Taps." The First Poetry Quartet and Richard Kiley read his works.
The City of New York learns the country is at war on April 13th, 1861. Troops amass in New York, arriving by ship and land; tent camps are set up for the army.
Whitman elects not to enlist in the army, deciding his contribution will be on the battlefield of the mind and heart. War becomes the theme of his poetry, ever striving to promote bravery of the North in battle.
"Beat! Beat! Drums!" (02:41)
The first battle of the war ends in defeat for the Union Army. Whitman writes about the North's gloom that the dream of a united country is broken. Whitman questions whether he should write of the North's fear and alarm, but decides to urge unrelenting war until there is victory.
"The Artilleryman's Vision" (02:38)
Whitman places his readers on the battlefield in his poetry, recounting the sounds of war and smell of death. He expresses the mourning of the people for the dead and wounded. Whitman volunteers as a nurse, visiting 80,000 wounded men.
"Wound Dresser" (02:35)
Whitman tells of his memories as a volunteer nurse. He expresses grief for the wounded and a desire to die for them.
"A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest" (03:03)
Whitman writes about the daily life of infantrymen. He creates literary devices for which he will later become famous.
"I See a Sad Procession" (02:42)
Whitman expresses his love for a father and son as a funeral marches toward a double grave. He writes how within the graveyard, all meet without hatred.
"Reconciliation" and "Oh Captain, My Captain" (02:58)
The Civil War comes to an end in 1865. Whitman honors soldiers of both sides with a poem about reconciliation. Upon Lincoln's assassination, Whitman writes the poem beginning with the famous words, "Oh Captain, My Captain."
"When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard" (02:31)
Whitman continues to grieve Lincoln's passing. He takes solace in his poem about the resurgence of nature in spring.
"Over the Carnage Rose"
Whitman looks forward to the country reuniting after the war. His poetry expresses that love will overcome the tolls of war.
"I Hear America Singing" (01:11)
Whitman writes a poem celebrating peace after war and life returned to normalcy. Kiley and The First Poetry Quartet gather to recite the poem.
Credits: Walt Whitman and the Civil War (00:32)
Credits: Walt Whitman and the Civil War
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