There were huge differences between the visions of the Union and the Confederacy, but those differences did not nullify the fact that partisans of both sides were human beings, with the inherent worth shared by all men and women. Though he opposed the Confederacy, Whitman also sought to show the dignity of the Confederate soldiers not because he believed in their cause but because they were human beings. In his time nursing wounded soldiers, Whitman cared for both Union and Confederate men. He wrote, for instance, of watching over a Confederate prisoner of war whose leg was amputated. Whitman’s empathy as both an artist and a man was not only a gift for those with whom he agreed or whose cause he applauded. Whitman’s project in Drum-Taps reminds us of the way that poetry (and literature in general) can strive to keep us alert to our deeper bonds.
E. Thomas Finan – An Essential Human Respect: Reading Walt Whitman During Troubled Times – The Millions – September 20, 2016