Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Army letters of Oliver Willcox Norton.

Army letters of Oliver Willcox Norton.

January 4, 2014

Army letters of Oliver Willcox Norton (Eighty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers)

Seaford. Del., Jan. 4, 1864.

Dear Sister L.:—

We came by boat from Philadelphia to Wilmington. New Year’s day our whole detachment was feasted in the town hall at the same time with the First Delaware Volunteers, home on furlough. We had good times there.

On the 2d we came down on the cars to Seaford, one hundred and thirty-three miles south of Wilmington. I saw Governor Cannon in Wilmington and had quite a talk with him. He is enthusiastic on the subject of negro soldiers.

Arrived here at dark, found a man at the depot waiting, who offered us quarters in a negro church and a school house and all were comfortable.

Sunday morning I got my tents up from the cars and we pitched a camp in one of the most beautiful pine groves I ever saw. Our camp was thronged with visitors, and darkies who wanted to enlist. There are hundreds of them, mostly slaves, here now, anxiously waiting for the recruiting officer. The boys are singing—


Rally round the flag, boys, rally once again,

Shouting the battle cry of freedom.

Down with the traitor, up with the star, etc.


They sing with the heart, and the earnestness they put into the words is startling. Cool as I am I found myself getting excited as I heard their songs this afternoon and saw the electrifying effect on the crowds of slaves.

The officers here are lions. I am afraid I’m guilty of putting on a little style. Not with the men of the regiment, though. I was shaved by a woman this morning.

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