Letter – David Norton, 25 July 1861

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Letter from 1st Lieutenant David Woodman Norton of Company E, 42nd IL Volunteer Infantry, to his father Joshua Norton, Jr., from Chicago, IL. Norton writes that his regiment received marching orders for Washington, D.C., though it may take a few weeks for them to fully prepare. He mentions that he is 1st Lieutenant of his company, and may have a chance to be captain. There are many men on the muster roll, but Norton worries that some may have gotten tired of waiting and gone out with other companies. They are attempting to get Major Slemmer to be their colonel. Norton is glad that one of his brothers has returned home, as having two sons in the service is enough for one family. Norton mentions needing money to outfit himself and organize the company, but cautions his father not to let his mother worry that he will go without anything.


-Page 1-

Chicago. July 25th /61

Dear Father

Your letter dated the 21st inst was received this morning. I was glad to hear from you of course.

My Regiment received orders to muster and march for Washington with all possible dispatch. The orders arrived on monday. We are mustering our men as fast as possible and hope to have the Reg. full in ten days or two weeks. We have been waiting so long that it is hard work to get our men to-gether. It may take us three weeks to get ready to march, but I hope not so long.

-Page 2-

I am 1st Lieut. of my Compy. with some little prospect of being captain. How I shall come out in the end I don’t know. We have more men on our muster-roll than we should want if they all would come up – but some have got out of patience waiting so long and have gone with other companies. However I have little fear of not being able to get my comp’y to gether as soon as any of the others.

We are trying to get Major Slemmer (Pickens) who is now here to be our Col. and there is a fair prospect of success. He would make a Col. under whom one might be sure of winning honors.

I am glad that John is coming home unharmed &

-Page 3-

I think he had better stay at home now as he has done his duty and as our family is to furnish two soldiers without him – that is enough for one family. I shall go for the War and I suppose Joshua is also. That is as much as one fmaily can be expected to do. try and keep him at home for Mother and you will have anxiety enough about Joshua and myself.

I hope you may be able to send that money to Tobey very soon for there is now no hope that I shall be able to pay it for I can’t see how I am going to raise money enough to pay my necessary expenses in organizing my comp’y. to say nothing about fitting my

-Page 4-

self out. Don’t say anything to mother that will make her think that I shall not have every thing that is necessary for a Soldier for I may be able to get more than I know of yet. I will write you more of the particulars when we get better organized and I know more of our condition.

Write me as soon and as often as you can, and remember me as

Your Affect. Son

D. Woodman Norton


Major David Woodman Major David Woodman Norton was born 31 January 1838 in Chelsea, MA. He had two other brothers (Joshua and John) who also enlisted and served in the Union Army. He enlisted with the 1st Zouave Regiment of Chicago and was then promoted to 2nd Lieutenant of the 42nd IL Infantry then Captain on July 22, 1861. He eventually joins Major General John M. Palmer’s staff as acting Assistant Inspector General. He was killed in action near New Hope Church, GA on June 2, 1864 during the Atlanta Campaign.

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