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.
Near Chicago Ill Aug 22nd /61
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
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.
Copy of a Confederate letter by Brigadier General Daniel W. Adams to James A. Seddon, Secretary of War, from Marietta, GA. This copy is in the handwriting of Randall Lee Gibson. Adams is petitioning Seddon to promote Colonel Gibson to brigadier general. Gibson is currently commanding the consolidated 13th and 20th Louisiana regiments. Gibson was on continuous duty through the Kentucky and Tennessee Campaigns, and was particularly admirable at the Battle of Perryville. Adams also mentions the “great gallantry” that Gibson displayed in the battles before Murfreesboro. Gibson also commanded Adams’ brigade during the Brigadier General’s absence, as part of Major General John C. Breckenridge’s division. The letter includes testimonies from Brigadier General Patton Anderson, Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk, Brigadier General William Preston, and Lieutenant General William Hardee, all of whom are supportive of Gibson’s promotion.
Marietta Ga Jan 22nd 1863
I have the honor to call your especial attention to Col R L Gibson of Louisiana now commanding the 13th & 20th La Regts Consolidated – formerly commanding the 13th La with the view of recommending him for promotion to the Rank of Brigadier Genl
Col Gibson entered the service on the 16th day of April 1861 and has since been actively and assiduously engaged in in it. Within my knowledge – that is since the 1st day of August last at which time his Regiment became a portion of the Brigade under my command he has been continuously on duty through the Ky and Tenn Campaigns. [???] battle of Perryville Ky in command of his Regiments under my immediate and personal observation he displayed great courage, gallantry, coolness, self possession as I have testimony in my official report of the part taken by my Brigade in that battle – throughout the long & arduous march of that Kentucky Campaign he was prompt and energetic in the discharge of his duties. In the recent battles before Murfreesboro he again displayed great gallantry & courage in the engagement of the 31st of December as I have officially reported; and in the engagement of of the 2nd inst as a part of Major Genl Breckinridge’s Div – he being the senior colonel commanded my Brigade in my absence which was caused by my being slightly wounded disabled by a slight wounded received on the 31st of Dec and acquitted himself as I have been credibly informed with great credit.
To my knowledge he is well acquainted and
proficient in Battalion & Brigade drill and with the rules & regulations of the service and has had considerable experience at [???] during his time of service as a Brigade Commander.
I feel confidently in the assurance that he is well qualified to command a Brigade and deserving the promotion to a Brigadier Generalship; in which opinion I doubt not my superiors in command in this Army will fully and most cheerfully concur. I have the honor to be
(signed) Dan W Adams Brig Genl
Comdg Adams Brigade
Breckinridge’s Div Hardee’s Corps
Hon James A Seddon
Sec of War C.S.A.
I take pleasure in adding my testimony to the above. Col Gibson Regiment during the Kentucky campaign composed a part of a Brigade in the Division I commanded. I had opportunities of observing him, and can say is truth, that he managed his Regt on the arduous march with skill and judgment and was highly spoken of by his Brigade Commander for his gallantry [?] on the field of Perryville. I consider him quite competent to command a Brigade.
(signed) Patton Anderson
Brig. Genl. P.A.
I cordially concur in the recommendation of Col Gibson to the office of Brigadier Genl. Col Gibson has shown himself both capable and faithful and would command a Brigade with credit to himself and advantage to our cause,
(signed) L Polk
Lt Genl C.S.A
I have long known Colonel Gibson and esteemed him for his cultivated intellect, his spotless character and great worth as a gentleman. In my association with him for the last year, and in the trying scenes from shiloh to murfreesboro, my regard has been augmented by finding in him all the qualities of a gallant and skillful soldier, it affords me pleasure to add the feeble testimony of my name to the distinguished recommendations of others under whom he has served to testify my entire confidence in his fitness for promotion to the rank of Brigadier Genl and my belief that the President cannot bestow it on a more faithful, diligent, and meritorious officer,
(signed) Wm Preston
Brigadier Genel Comdg Breckinridge’s Div
I concur in the recommendations given on behalf of Col. Gibson, and cordially recommend him to the President for Brigadier General.
(signed) Lieut General
Hdqrs Hardees Corps
Tullahoma Feb 1st 1863
Randall Lee Gibson was born in 1832 in Versailles, KY into a family of slave-owning planters. He attended Yale and wasa member of the Skull and Bones society. After graduating in 1853 he then studied at the University of Louisiana Law School (Tulane) and received his bachelor’s in law. When Louisiana seceded, Gibson joined the 1st LA Artillery as a captain. He was then commissioned as colonel of the 13th LA Infantry. A year after this letter was sent on his behalf, he was finally promoted to brigadier general for the Atlanta and Franklin-Nashville Campaigns. He was captured at Cuba Station, AL May 8, 1865 and paroled on May 14, 1865. After the war he returned to Louisiana and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1874, then the Senate in 1882. He died December 15, 1892.