Letter written by Captain David W. Norton of Company E, 42nd IL Volunteer Infantry, to his father from Camp Baker near Warsaw, MO. Norton writes that they have been waiting for a provision train, but have just received marching orders for that night as soon as the men can cook rations. He fired the first shot at Confederate troops by his regiment. They had surprised a small camp of Confederates and took a few prisoners. Norton expects to have a fight once they overtake General David Hunter. He asks his father to let his mother know she shouldn’t worry about the accounts of fighting she has read in the papers.
Camp Baker in the
woods 7 miles from War-
saw. Mo. Nov. 1st 1861
We have been in camp nearly a week waiting for a provision train. We have just received an order to march forward tonight. It is now about 8 oclock in the evening and we are to march as soon as the men can cook rations to put in their haversacks. This is our first real experience at Soldiering. I have the honor of the first shot for the Douglas Brigade. I went out day before yesterday and surprised
a small camp of Secesh and took five prisoners and 14 horses and mules. None of my boys were injured. It was the first expedition from our Regt. and I feel proud of my boys.
We expect to have a fight by the time we can overtake Gen. Hunter. We leave all our tents & camp equipage and sick behind us. to follow when our wagons get along.
I am feeling first rate and hope to write you a good a/c [account] of my comp’y if we get a battle.
Tell Mother not to take any notice of the
reports of fights in this state as there has not been one for the last 6 weeks and every day we hear of fights that never took place. You must not believe that there has been a battle until you get official notive.
I can’t write any more now, but will write again the first chance I get.
Give my love to all & If I dont march off the field my trunk is in Mr. Haskells care Chicago and some of my boys will give an a/c of what I have here. Good Bye
Co ‘E’ 42nd Regt
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.