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.

June 15, 2015

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

U. S. Steamer Illinois, off Brazos de Santiago, Texas,

Thursday, June 15, 1865.

Dear Father:—

I have a few minutes in which to write a continuation of my note from Mobile Bay. The Illinois returns to New York to-morrow, or sails for there via New Orleans, and I must send by her.

We disembarked near Fort Morgan on Friday the 9th. Found on shore a family from Boston, with a piano and girls fond of music and dancing, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Re-embarked the next morning and sailed at noon. Our trip across the Gulf had nothing of interest till on Tuesday morning we sighted land, the Isla del Padre, and at 9 o’clock anchored off Brazos. There are only nine feet of water on the bar, and as our ship draws nineteen, we could not get over and it has been too rough to transfer the men to a lighter till to-day, when we got them off on a schooner, though it was a perilous job. I expected to see at least one or two drowned, but they all got off in safety. I remain to unload the rations and stores, and seize the time the schooner is off to write my note.

Our brigade is to remain with division headquarters at Brazos. One of the other brigades is at Corpus Christi and one at Indianola. Brazos is an island at the mouth of the Rio Grande. Seven miles down the coast on the other side is Bagdad in Mexico, where several thousand French and Imperialist Mexicans are camped. One of our regiments will guard the ford, and as soon as I can get time I am going across to see how they look.

Brazos has not much to recommend it as a pleasant place to garrison, but we shall build barracks and live within ourselves and enjoy ourselves, I make no doubt. The worst feature is that we must use condensed water. I shall be busy for a time in fitting up, and in making up my papers, but I hope to have time to write some letters, and I hope some of you will write to me at least once a week. Change the address from Washington to New Orleans, but make no other changes.

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