Letter – David Norton, 29 April 1861


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Letter written by Sergeant David Woodman Norton of the “1st Zouave Regiment of Chicago,” to his father Joshua Norton, Jr., from Chicago, IL. Norton comments on his brothers’ recent decisions to enlist. Norton is a 2nd Sergeant of Company E, but feels that he should have a higher rank. His colonel however, shows favoritism to the older members of the Zouave Company. They have orders to go to Cairo, IL, which Norton describes as “the most important post to be held west of Washington.” Norton inquires after his mother, saying that she should not be worried about her sons, as they will all return safely and with honor. Norton mentions a package of letters he would like returned to their sender, Miss Mary T. Dodge, if he dies in the war. He also asks his father to get him a commission if he can, as Norton feels he would do well in any position.

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Chicago April 29th/61

Dear Father

I received your letter some days since and was not at all surprised to hear that Joshua and John had enlisted in the glorious cause of our country.

I am 2nd Sergeant of Comp. E. Zuave Regiment of Chicago. I should have had a higher rank but for the favoritism shown by our Colonel to the older members of the Zuave Company. As it is I have a great deal of the work of drilling the men thrown upon my hands. We have got them into pretty good marching drill and have begun teaching the manuel

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of Arms. Our uniforms are not done yet, thought we expect to get them in two or three days.

We are under order to leave for Cairo or to go into camp to night or to-morrow. I hope we may go to Cairo, as that is the most important post to be held west of Washington, and we may expect some hard service there for the south must come there to get food or starve. Three Companies of our Reg. are there now.

I am glad that John was with the 1st Reg. that saw service Was he hurt at all? Has Joshua gone yet? What are the numbers of their Regiments? Mine is the 1st Reg. of Zouaves.

Mother must not feel badly to part with her sons in such

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a cause as ours, even if she should be called upon to part with any of them for this life. She will meet us all again where there are no wars! But she must not expect to lose any of us. We shall all be come home safe and with honor. If we have any good fighting I mean to have a rank higher than at presant, if there is one to be had by doing one’s duty.

I have left my trunk in care of Mr. Haskell. If I don’t return I should like to have a package of letters you will find in it returned to the writer. – Miss. Mary T. Dodge Dodgeville Wisconsin

When you write to me send the letters for the presant, to care of Box 2555 and address to Sergeant DW Norton Comp. E. Zouaves Reg. Chicago, I will write again as soon as I get time and a chance. I am

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not quite a novice, in military matters. Don’t forget if you can get a chance to get me a commission, that I feel sure that I can fill any office I should be likely to get, if perseverance and application are of any a/c [account].

Write Soon and tell the others to do so too. Give my love to all and write soon to

Your Affect. Son

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.

Letter – Charles Hunter, 23 December 1864


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Letter from Charles Hunter to his sister, Jane, from the Camp of the 88th PA Volunteer Infantry. Charles opens informing her of the state of his commission for 1st Lieutenant, and his hopes he will have no difficulty in it this time. He hears that she has been having a good time going to balls and dancing, and that if she were with him she’d be dancing to keep her feet warm. He tells her he has no hope of getting home for Christmas, or of having a turkey dinner, but that he has got to the point that “such things as turkey on Christmas don’t trouble me.” He wishes his friends, family, and neighbors a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Camp of the 88th Penna Vet Vols

Dec 23 1864

Dear Jane
I received yours of the 16″ and was very glad to hear from all of you. My commission has been sent after to Andrew Curtin and I expect here by the end of this month as first Lieutenant, which I have to receive first before I can get a captains commission. Joe Lawrence the Officer in command says that there will be no trouble about it. But of course there is many a slip between the cup and the lip But I guess it will be all right this time. At least I hope so.

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So you are haveing a good time of it going to balls and dancing if you was down here you would have a good time dancing to, but it would be to get your feet warm. I think you must have been tired against you danced 21 sets on a Ball room floor. i dont think it would hardly pay for the shoe leather.
There is no hopes of getting home for Christmas but if everything goes right I suppose I will get home some time though this winter I will let you know as soon as I get the commission as I will want something sent down in a box, that is if the paymasters come along this way.
The day after tomorrow is Christamas and never a sign of turkey. But I have got so that such things as turkey on Christamas dont trouble me.

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I suppose you will get this on Christmas so I send all of you a Merry Christmas and if you dont hear from me again before New Years day a Happy new year. I did not get the letter that Goodwillie sent of yours but I got the one from Kate Robinson. Which I will answer at the soonest opportunity. With my respects to all, friends & neighbors and my love to Father Mother Lizzie Maggie Sallie & yourself

I remain
Your Affectionate Brother
Charles Hunter

Charles Hunter was born c. 1840, the son of Irish immigrants living in Philadelphia, PA. He mustered into the Union Army on August 31, 1861 with the 88th PA Volunteers. He was promoted to corporal January 1, 1862 and re-enlisted in February, 1864 when his initial service term went up. At some point he was promoted to sergeant, and then to 1st Lieutenant on January 16, 1865. He was wounded at Spotsylvania Court House, and resigned June 12, 1865.

Commission – James Mitchell, 19 March 1863


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Document forwarding a an army commission for James E. Mitchell of Pennsylvania as 2nd Lieutenant of the 18th US Infantry, from the Adjutant General’s Office in Washington. Mitchell wrote and signed this certified copy of the original document. The original commission was signed by James B. Fry, Assistant Adjutant General. The office required personal details from Mitchell, including his age, residence, birth state, and full name. After accepting the commission, Mitchell was to report to the battalion commander.

Adjutant General’s Office

Washington March 19th 1863


    I forward herewith your commission of

                Second Lieutenant

your receipt and acceptance of which you will please acknowledge without delay reporting at the same time your age and residence when appointed, the State where born, and your full name Correctly Written. Fill up, Subscribe, and return as soon as possible the accompanying oath, duly and carefully executed

     On receipt and acceptance hereof, you will report in Person, for orders, to your Battalion Commander and by letter to the Commander of your Regiment.

                             I am sir very Respectfully,

                                Your Obedient Servant,

                            (signed) James B. Fry

                              Asst Adjutant General

Second Lieutenant James E. Mitchell

         18th Regt U. S. Inft

I certify that the above is a true copy of the Original

                                James E Mitchell

                                2nd Lieut 18th U. S. Inf

James E. Mitchell, from Pennsylvania, enlisted as a private in Company H of the 2nd Battalion, 18th US Infantry, on February 14, 1862. He was subsequently appointed sergeant prior to his commission appointment dated February 19, 1863. His acceptance was duly noted on April 21, 1863, and he served on active duty until his death September 13, 1863, evidently from the bite of a poisonous snake the previous night.