Letter – David Norton, 10 October 1861

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Letter written by Captain David W. Norton of Company E, 42nd IL Volunteer Infantry, to his father from on board “John Warner” near Jefferson City, MO. Norton’s company is armed with rifled muskets, and two other companies are armed with Colt’s revolving rifles. His company is about to load freight onto a trail bound for Sedalia, and will then join General John C. Fremont’s army in pursuit of Confederate General Sterling Price. Norton writes disparagingly of Jefferson City, and thinks they should let the Confederates have it. Norton expects to have a fight soon, and mentions the “Douglas Brigade” [42nd Regiment Illinois Volunteers]. Norton will have his personal information on a slip of paper in his pocket in case he is killed, although he expects to get through the battles safely.


-Page 1-

On Board “John Warner”

Jefferson City Mo.

Oct. 10th 1861

Dear Father

We left St. Louis the morning of the 8th inst. We intended to leave the evening before, but we could not get the baggage of our Regt. on board, so we waited until morning and took two boats. We are armed with rifled-muskets and two of the companies are furnished with Colt’s Revolving Rifles. We all feel in first rate spirits at being fairly in the field. We shall begin to load our freight on a train of cattle-cars in the morning, for Sedalia and from there shall march with Fremont after Fen Price &c. This place is a mean, contemptable hole. If the Rebels want it, I think we better let them have it. The only good buildings in town are the state House, the Penitentiary and a stable. There are three Regts. here to go to Sedalia tomorrow. We may

-Page 2-

have a fight before long. If we do you may expect to see something in the papers about the ‘Douglas Brigade’ (42nd Regt. Ills. Vols.) – I will have that address in my pocket so that if I get my ‘quietus’ they will know who I am and where you live. But I don’t expect to get hurt, and you must not expect to hear any evil of me.

You will see by this letter that I have no very good chance at writing here, so I shall have to make my letter short. – I thought I aught to let you know that I am well and on the march after the Rebel’s. Give my love to Mother & the rest and write to me at St. Louis and it will be sent forward to the Regt. I must go and fix my comp’y for the night as it is raining and they are on deck. I have sent a squad on shore to take a lot of hay on the dock – supposed to belong to ‘Uncle Sam’ to make a bed for the boys and I must see how they are getting along.

Good Bye. In Haste

D. Woodman Norton.


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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