Letters from

Len Norton

Company E, 42nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Submitted by Rolland Swank

The following letter is the first page of a letter sent from Len Norton, 42nd Illinois Infantry, Company E, to his father. (Later in the war he was a Captain in Co F.) Even if we don't have the whole letter, I think what we have is interesting. I tried to type the letter as it was written, with the "fs" used for "ss", capital letters in the middle of sentences, and spellings as given. Sometimes the sentences run together. He used the "{" as shown, for both the beginning and end of the parenthetical phrase, i.e., the end was not "}".
R. Swank 6/2001

March 25th 1862

on board Steamer Memphis

{off Island No 10 Mifsissipi River{

Dear Father, I sit down to inform You that I am well & trust these few lines will find You the same we have Been down here for ten days waiting for the Gun Boats & Mortars to Silence the Rebel Batteries But as Yet they have done but little towards it they can dismount their Guns through the day But They Remount them at Night so there is But little advantage gained on Either side. Profefsor Stein is Reconnortiring with a Balloon to day But has give No Report Yet That I have heard of. He just commenced this afternoon, the object is to see the Movements of the Rebels on the Island we can see them plain from the Missouri Shore. But the River is so high that it is Considerable trouble to get down opposite the Island. Our Company was out on Pickets Guard just opposite their Battery on the Island they threw some Shell within 6 or 8 Rods of Us we was Stationed By some Big Corn Cribs and You Bet there was some cralling to get behind the Cribs. as Co F was coming to Releive Us a shell struck so near them it Throwed Mud on some of the Men, which You Know was a pretty close call I think By the last of this week there will be pretty hot times here. But I cant tell anything about it for we have been here 10 days & there was More Excitement the first day than there is a present we was ordered up the River 16 Miles to a place called Hickman, the Report being that some Rebels was in Pofsession of the town we left Here 10 o'clock at night so as to go into town about 2 oclock in the Morning But the Captain & Pilot of the Boat we went up on come a good joke on Us & took Us 10 Miles the other side of Hickman & Signaled as we pafsed the town so that if there was any Rebels in town they had a chance to get away &c it was a good joke on Us But I am affraid it will turn out to be Rather a Serious joke on them for they are under arrest, at pesent, & likely to Remain so I Reced a letter from Will Peck & answered it the same day He wrote Jim Norton had Enlisted with two other Boys. But took the Belly Ache & come home, I see in the National Democrat that those three Patriotic Young Men who Enlisted in the Mich 12th are now under the Safe Protection of their Mothers flag {Petticoat{.
I suppose the Democrat Meant vulgarly speaking.

{Brave Boys Them{

{they didn't get a taste of Soldiering at Niles{

{tell Jim I say He ought to Stuck to it awhile{
His diet would been from Baked Turkey down to Buffalo Shit {Excuse my Language{

[There is probably more to the letter but we only have the first page written on both sides which ends here.]

The next letter was written from Len Norton to his sisters Elizabeth (Lib) & Jane Norton. Based on other information in this web-site, I think the Jud Northrop mentioned in the letter was killed at the battle of Stone River (Stone’s River?) December 31, 1862 and that Len was wounded in that same battle.


Jan 26th 1863
Seminary Hospital 5th Ward
Covington Ky

Dear Sisters

I received Your letter just after I was wounded. Therefore you will Excuse my Delay. They came in the box of Provisions. You can imagine I Enjoyed the letters with the other dainties You & My good I should say Our good Mother sent me & I will You see By the heading of My letter that I have been on the move again {when I wrote to Father & Mother I was at Louisville Kentucky well we left there Jan the 24th and ????? (here) ? ??????? the 25th and crofsed the River after dinner & here I am. I have been as near home as Cincinnati Ohio & I tell you I thought Strong of Home but Girls if I cant come home honerably I will never Come. At least I Shall Never Desert well Girls I Expect you have been Uneasy about Me for the last Month but I have no right to complain & why should You when others far better than I am have Suffered So much more &c. I am in the best of health which You Know is considerable.

My wound is getting along finely. It does not pain Me but very little & is getting well fast. My Shoulder blade is not hurt but very little &c.

I wrote to Northrops folks about Jud being killed &c. I tell you it was a hard old time for two or three Days {ha ha{.

Well Lib I don’t know what to write for I don’t know any news that would interest you but Howsoever I will try
I Suppose Every Body is getting Married in Michigan. The next thing I hear of will be You & Jane Hooking in for Keeps with some worthless Fellow. Ha. But Girls don’t get drawed over the coals to Soon. well Enough of this I wrote to Father on some private Business concerning some Money I wrote to Him while I was in Louisville when you write tell Me whether He has reced it or not &c give Me a full History of Everything tell Me all the news of Cafs Co &c tell Hank (Miston/?Murton?) & Tony Seton that I will come around all right in course Of time tell me where Will & Dick Patrick is give Me their address &c. also where is Louiza Norton I heard she was in Chicago taking Music lessons. is Morris Richardson Married also Tim/(Fin?) Hull where is Mike Houser is he in the Mich 12th Regt or not write a long letter & tell me what you Study at School tell Mother not to be fretting about Me for I will come around all right in the Spring &c well I must close hoping this will find you in as good Health as it leaves Me.

I remain Your affectionate
Brother as Ever
L R Norton
Write Soon
Very Soon
Addrefs L R Norton
Seminary Hospital
{Co E. 42d Ill Volls{
Covington Ky

P.S. Lib send me Your Likeness soon

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