Letter – David Norton, 22 August 1861


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Letter written by Captain David Woodman Norton of Company E, 42nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry, to his father Joshua Norton, Jr., dated August 22nd, 1861, from Camp Douglas near Chicago, Illinois. Norton has recently been promoted to captain, and was presented with a sword, belt, sash, and an undress uniform. Norton has immense support from the men in his company, which he says makes all of his hard work worthwhile. He writes that he has spent most of his time in camp, usually drilling squads. He concludes the letter by writing that he must “fall in” with his company for the regimental drill.

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Camp Douglas

Near Chicago Ill Aug 22nd /61

Dear Father

Your last was gladly received. I feel in better spirits than when I last wrote you for since then I have had a sword – belt – sash & an undress uniform presented to me. Mr. Haskell and some other friends of mine subscribed and paid for the above articles for me. I have had good luck in another respect too – I am a Captain of one of the Companies of this Regiment. The Company is not quite full but is fast filling up and the men all tell me that they shall elect me as captain. One of the privates told me that if I could take every man in the camp who wanted me for Capt. that I should have a company of at least 500 men. That make me

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feel as though all the hard work I have done for this Regiment had not been wasted. The Col. appointed me over the company I now command and told me that he would rather see me a captain in his Rep. than any other man in the Camp. Wasn’t that a compliment from my Col.? I guess I begin to feel a little proud. I have hardly been out of the camp for 3 weeks and am always at work drilling squads.

I saw Haskell’s family last week they were all well.

We cant tell when we shall leave camp for the field. I must not write any more now as I must “fall in” my comp’y for the regimental drill. I will write again as soon as I have any thing new to tell you.

Give my love to mother & the rest and write as often as you can.

Your Affect Son

Capt. D. Woodman Norton

Douglas Brigade Chicago Ill.

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 – Zebulon Ryder, 24 December 1861

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Letter written by Private Zebulon P. Ryder of Company I, 11th PA Cavalry, to his father while in camp near Suffolk, VA. Ryder states he is having an easy time but is unsure of how long that will last. During his last scout, his regiment captured three Rebel pickets. He wishes to be home for Christmas dinner, and would like photographs of his father and his aunt. He would be willing to get his own photograph taken if his father sends him money. On the 15th of January, he is set to receive six month’s pay. Ryder is proud of his spending habits; he only buys writing paper and tobacco from the sutler. He concludes with a description of the Secesh Drill, and makes fun of the locals and how they say “we’uns.”

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Camp Suffolk Dec 24/62

Dear Farther

I reaceved your letter to night Dated the 20th and i was very glad to here from you and to here that you and all the folks at home whare well This leaves me very well at presant and I hope it may find you the same I am haveing prety easy times of it out here but i do not no how long it will last, Just Came home of a scout we captured 3 of the Rebel Picket 1 of them belonged to the 2d Georga Cavelry I supose you have herd of them before and the other 2 belong to some Infantry Regament i do not no from what state thay whare from, I thought that Arch Brower went home long ago or i would have writen to him, I went down to see Fread Driscol the day before I went out on a scout and i found him very sick but

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the Doctor said that he would soon get over it, I would like very much to be home to get my Christmas Diner for i supose you will have something good, you said that you was a going to send me your likeness I wish you would for i would like to have it very much and my aunts also if you send me on some money i will get mine takeing as the man that takes them came here last thursday, I only wished we would get paid off and then i would get 3 or 4 takeing but i would Rather wait now untill the 15th of January and then i will get 6 months pay which will be 75 Dollars, and i will have 5 of them to send home to you as i only gave 10 dollars of it to the sutler and you can see that i do not spend so much money as i use to do for that is only 2 dollars a month and i only spent that for writing paper

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and tobaco dont you

Reckon that is Right Smart for me My Mother sent for a lock of my hair i would send it to her but it is so short that it is impossible to cut it but i must stop for tonight and Bid you good Bye

from your Son

Zebulon Ryder

11 PA Cav

This is a specimen of the Secesh Drill

Gentlemen of North Carolina I came down to drill you a little Atention North Carolinians 2 strings to the Right Right Smart get halt hind Rank a little Closter get turn around get & Get meens March, Two of our Boys that was takeing prisoner got home last week

Tell Frank to write and Aunt also

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Zebulon Powell Ryder

Company I 11th Pa Cavelry

give my love to Aunt Uncle and Cousands Brothers and Sisters

Right Smart I Recon

What dose you all Come down here to weens for

Weens if what thay us

Zebulon P. Ryder was born in New York City. He enlisted in Company I of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry on August 3, 1862 at around 16 or 17 years of age. He was first assigned to duty in Suffolk, Va. with his company, and survived the war, being discharged May 16, 1865. At some point he moved west to Tennessee, married, and worked as a farmer. He died February 26, 1909 of pneumonia in Buena Vista, TN.

Another letter by Zebulon Ryder, dating from 3 August 1862, can be found at Spared Shared. Be sure to check them it as well!