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.

August 13, 2013

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

Beverly Ford, Va., Thursday, August 13, 1863.

Dear Mother:—

I received your letter of the 5th night before last. Yesterday it was so hot that I could not write or do anything else but lie in the shade and sweat. I don’t know where the mercury stood, but I think it must have been above 100. It was as hot as any day we had on the Peninsula except one. Last night we had a furious thunder storm. The ground was completely soaked and I had fun enough this morning to last me a week.

Yesterday Colonel Rice had a large force of men putting up booths or shades of poles and brush over the tents. This morning they all fell down one after another and smashed down the tents. The colonel’s was the first, just about daylight. He came crawling out under the edge sans everything but shirt. He came in such a hurry that he could not keep his perpendicular and went sprawling in the mud. Then Lieutenant Grannis’ tent came down and he came out in the same cool dress like a mouse from a shock of corn.

We have just been paid $52. I’m going to send $50 home. Father inquired once what I did with my money lately. I don’t remember whether I explained about that or not, but I have not wasted a great deal of it. Since I have been at headquarters, I have had to keep a good watch. The time of everything is left to me. Well, last fall I had a watch stolen from me that cost me $18, I think, and then I bought another, and both had to be paid for out of the next pay. This last watch kept time splendidly all winter, but when we forded the Rapidan, it got wet inside and stopped entirely. I sent it to Erie for Captain Austin to clean. When I went back to headquarters I bought a watch for $10 which turned out to be good for nothing. I bought another for $15 which is a good one. Last Monday my watch came back from Erie, so now I have three. That is where my money has gone to, part of it at least. I am going to keep my old watch and sell the other two.

I dare not risk sending much money in a letter, so I am going to send $10 at a time. Let Father do what he thinks best with it.

I am very glad you are having so much fruit and such a variety too. I should like it very much if I could have some too, but you are so far away and everything sent by express is so uncertain of reaching its destination that I don’t think it would be best to try to send me any. Next winter there may be a good chance. There would be now if there was any certainty of our staying here any length of time. We have laid out three “permanent camps” this side of Warrenton. This is the best place we have found yet and I think we will stay here through the hot weather. I have no correspondents in Springfield now.

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