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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Prose Works. 1892.

I. Specimen Days

53. Hospital Perplexity

TO add to other troubles, amid the confusion of this great army of sick, it is almost impossible for a stranger to find any friend or relative, unless he has the patient’s specific address to start upon. Besides the directory printed in the newspapers here, there are one or two general directories of the hospitals kept at provost’s headquarters, but they are nothing like complete; they are never up to date, and, as things are, with the daily streams of coming and going and changing, cannot be. I have known cases, for instance such as a farmer coming here from northern New York to find a wounded brother, faithfully hunting round for a week, and then compell’d to leave and go home without getting any trace of him. When he got home he found a letter from the brother giving the right address.