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.

April 8, 2013

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

Stone man Station, Va.,
Wednesday, April 8, 1863.

Dear Sister L.:—

Your long letter of March 31st reached me in due time. For once I have not been very prompt, but you will have to excuse me. I have been moving. Yes, moving, for I am returned to the regiment. Colonel Vincent could not be satisfied to let me stay when I had a good berth, but insisted on my coming back. My reward for strict attention to duty is this, retrograde promotion. The colonel’s reason for promoting me was to put me in charge of the bugle corps here to play for dress parade in the place of a band. You may believe I was some vexed about it, and if it were not that I hope to get back to headquarters, I would smash my bugle over a stump and take a musket again. Some one else will ride my horse now (you know how I have always loved a horse and can guess how I shall miss him), and some one else will carry my colors. Perhaps you will be glad of that. I come back to the original position of a private. Though I was nominally only a private there, I had really the privileges of a commissioned officer, some of them, at least, and the advantage of line officers, in that I had a horse to ride. My pay, too, by the next muster would have been twenty-one dollars per month. If I had been thrown out of this place for any fault of my own, I would have said nothing about it, but I did squirm some to find that I was only recalled because Colonel Vincent wanted a good bugler in the regiment, and cared nothing about what they had at headquarters. Coming back to the regiment seems almost like leaving the comforts of a home and enlisting again. I did not half realize the privileges I did enjoy till I came to be deprived of them.

If you don’t have better weather than we have had for a week past you will not make much sugar. It is cold for April. Cold north winds blowing all the time, most. I cannot stand round without my overcoat, without shivering like a man with the ague.

Yesterday Abraham paid us a visit, or rather he didn’t. He reviewed all the other regiments in the brigade, but by some blunder of Colonel Stockton’s he made a bridge of our nose. It was rather provoking to see him pass within ten rods of us and not so much as nod to us. We had made great preparations and expected a speech. Our old Peninsula flag, tattered and blood-stained, was brought out and put beside the new one, but it was no go, Abraham didn’t see it.

To-day there is a big review. Our brigade has gone on picket, so I didn’t go out, but I saw the most of our corps go by. The regulars ( Sykes’ division) don’t begin to come up to the volunteers in soldierly bearing and appearance. They seem to have no pride about it and only do what they are forced to do.

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