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.

July 8, 2015

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

Brazos de Santiago, Texas,
July 8, 1865.

Dear Sister L.:—

I have written of our voyages, its pleasures, and the shipwreck at the end. I have told you the features of the country here, its lack of vegetation and its abundance of salt and sand. There is not much more to tell, except that we are just about ready for a march away up the Rio Grande, into the wilderness of the Comanche country. I expect danger and hardship, heat, thirst and all the troubles and pleasures incident to a trip in the wilderness of this romantic country.

The rebellion is dead—we have no more rebels to fight, and the work laid out for us seems to be to garrison the forts and posts along the frontier, from the mouth of the Rio Grande away up into New Mexico. I saw an officer yesterday, who had just come down from up there, who said he had not seen a white man beside his own company for two years. Greasers (Mexicans) and Comanche Indians are the inhabitants up there. With us, it will be some different. We have a whole army corps to be scattered along the frontier, and there will be frequent communication.

You do well to talk about heat and rain. What would you think of a country where the average heat is from 96 to 100 and you lived in a cotton house where it did not rain for three months, and then the whole three months’ rain came down in one day, where you would have to get your water by condensing the steam from sea brine? It wouldn’t suit me for a home, but a sojourn here does very well for an episode in one’s life. There is no use in your disliking my coming here. I was well on my way when you wrote the words, and here before I read them.

If you find the time when you can go on a visit to Michigan, you better go, without making any calculations of my going with you. Our “best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft agley,” and there is no telling what may happen to any of us. I have a plan in my mind now, which I intend to work out. The war is over, the object of my enlistment is accomplished, and I propose to resign about the middle or latter part of September, so as to start for home about the first of October. I shall go via the Mississippi River, make a visit to our parents in Michigan (I cannot say go home, because I have no home yet), then come for another visit to you, and about the first of January go for a term of instruction in the forwarding and commission business, to Eastman’s Business College at Poughkeepsie. After that go to New Orleans or St. Louis and get a position as agent for some firm in the business, till such time as I get ready to go into business on my own account. An officer in the regiment, whom I have known intimately for nearly two years, will join me at the school, and we shall go together for better or worse. It is a business that can be carried on with less capital and produce surer and larger profits than any other I know of, and one which will suit my tastes better than a quiet country life. Now what do you think of my plan?

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