Letter – David Norton, 12 October 1861

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Letter written by Captain David W. Norton of Company E, 42nd IL Volunteer Infantry, to his mother from Jefferson City, MO. Norton writes that they landed from the boat the previous day and have been preparing to march out. General John C. Fremont has frightened the Confederate troops so much that they are retreating. Norton hopes that Fremont will decide to pursue them. Norton inquires after his brothers and writes that he hopes his father does not get discouraged during the war. He writes that his regiment is in good spirits, and that he has been paid enough to outfit himself comfortably. Norton concludes by mentioning an enclosed photograph of himself and his 2nd Lieutenant, N. H. Dufoe.


-Page 1-

P.S. What is Charley’s full address? DWN

Jefferson City Mo.

Oct 12th 1861

Dear Mother,

Your long and more than welcome letter was received yesterday. You may be sure that I was glad to hear from you, it has been so long since I received a letter from you. We are “all in a heap‘, here. We landed from the boat yesterday morning and our men and freight are still on the levee. Our wagons are being put together and our mules are being trained, preparatory to marching. We hope to get a start of four or five miles to night so as to camp outside of

-Page 2-

this miserable town. The streets are full of mule teams of the different Regt’s. here. The mules furnished are almost all untrained and all the teamsters are busy breaking them. Within a week or so after leaving Jefferson we may hope to be in the neighborhood of the Rebels – unless they take another start south; – which is more than probable. Gen. Fremont has frightened them so badly that they are dividing up and going south and west. I hope that Fremont will follow them in the same way and finish the war in this state. They wont fight unless they have it all their own way, and so I am for giving them a good run for their part of the business.

-Page 3-

I have not time to write much to day but the first time I get a chance I will write a good long letter and give you a history of our progress up the river &c. I am glad to hear that Joshua is doing so well. I hope he may be able to keep his post, for they make a great many changes in the Q.Ms. Department out this way.

Tell Joshua that he must not go into the army again – unless he can get a comission.

How does Father’s courage hold out under the present state of affairs? I hope he does not get discouraged, for I know that it is uphill business, if one loses hope _ I came very nearly doing so, some time ago – but now I feel in first rate spirits and believe all

-Page 4-

will yet come out right. My company is getting along first rate and the whole Regt. is feeling well at the prospect of seeing service. I have drawn pay enough to fit myself out in comfortable style.

Tell the girls and Lottie in particular that they must not always expect an answer to their letters, but take a letter to anyone as an answer to all – for my time is very much occupied and opportunities to write few and far between.

Enclosed is a likeness of myself and my 2nd Lieut. N.H. Dufoe. Mine is good, every one says, only I look less hearty than I am. Dufoes is good.

Good Bye, God Bless you Mother.

Yours “all over

D.W. 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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