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.

December 30, 2012

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

Stoneman Station, Va.,
Tuesday, Dec. 30, 1862.

Dear Brother and Sister:—

I have been hard up for stationery and stamps lately, more so than ever before. This month nearly gone makes six months for which we have not received a cent of pay, consequently there is very little money in camp. The sutler won’t come where there is no money, and of course we can’t buy anything. You don’t know anything about it at home. All you want is a little money, and paper, ink, pen and postage is forthcoming. But I couldn’t get it now if I had $26, unless the regiments had money, too, for there is none to buy—no sutlers. Postage stamps we have to send home for. Sutlers won’t sell them ; there’s no profit. I got half a quire of paper—this is the last sheet—out of a knapsack on the battlefield, and it has lasted me till now, and I just found a man who has a bottle of ink, so I’m all right for this letter, but the next, ah, me. the next!

I see plainly that I have not kept you posted in regard to my own affairs. I have taken it for granted that you understood more than you do, so I must answer some of your questions. I have acted as chief bugler since we left the Peninsula, but I did not stay at brigade headquarters till we left Antietam. My duties are to give the signals for morning and evening roll calls, guard mounting, drills, dress parade, etc. I have a programme furnished by the assistant adjutant general and keep my own time, so that I may say as long as I attend to my duties strictly I am my own master. For instance, the time arrives for “tattoo” in the evening. I take my bugle, sound the brigade call, “Dan, Dan, Dan, Butterfield, Butterfield, Dan, Dan, Dan, Butterfield, Butterfield.” and the tattoo. After I finish, the regimental buglers in each regiment sound their regimental call, and the tattoo. Whatever call is sounded from headquarters they repeat. When I first came the adjutant general used to tell me when to sound, but finding I attended to my business, he left it all to me, so I am giving good satisfaction and like my place well.

Ollie M. thought I was a sergeant, and congratulated me on my promotion. According to the regulations I should be, but I did not enlist as a musician and so I do not expect promotion as such. I should receive $20 per month, but doubt my getting over $13.

Three of us, two orderlies and myself, have put up a log building five logs high, and covered it with ponchos, got a fireplace and everything comfortable, and now we’ve got orders to march.

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