One million war deaths

In the BMJ (subscription required) Dalrymple relates Walt Whitman’s experience of the American Civil War, and his changing views of war:
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was the poet of romantic, democratic individualism, or possibly even of egotism. His most famous poem, after all, is Song of Myself, which opens: “I celebrate myself, and sing myself …”
Another line, of the kind of which there are many, is: “I exist as I am, that is enough…”
Whenever, therefore, a patient complained to me of lack of self esteem, thoughts of Walt Whitman rose inexorably in my mind. In fact, the deepest experience of his adult life was serving for three years as a volunteer nurse to the wounded of the American civil war. At the outbreak of that bloody conflict, he wrote an exultantly pro-war poem that starts: “Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugle! Blow!” and ends: “Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties, / Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses, / So strong you thump O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.”
Though Whitman never lost his faith in the justice of the Union cause, his experience, attending the wounded, changed his tune somewhat….Here is his description of his first sight of a war hospital, dated 21 December 1862:
Begin my visits among the camp hospital in the army of the Potomac. Spend a good part of the day in a large brick mansion on the banks of the Rappahannock, used as a hospital since the battle [of Fredericksburg]—seems to have receiv’d only the worst cases. Out doors, at the foot of a tree, within ten yards of the front of the house, I notice a heap of amputated feet, legs, arms, hands, etc …

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