Norman L. King was born in New York sometime around 1839. He eventually ended up in the Washtenaw County area of Michigan and enlisted as a Corporal in Company D of the Fourth Michigan Infantry on June 20, 1861, at Adrian, Michigan. He was killed in action on July 2, 1863, in ” The Wheatfield” at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Norman was buried at the National Cemetery in Gettysburg.
Corporal King writes this letter to his cousin Sarah White, who was the daughter of Jehial and Malinda White, residents of Washtenaw County, Michigan. The letter is shared through the courtesy of Sarah Nelson, a descendant of Norman’s.
Stoneman’s Station, Va.
March 15, 1863
I received your letter dated Feb, 15,’63, you may be sure. I was very happy to hear from you but I am very sorry to hear that you are unwell. For health is far better than riches. It grieves me to see cousin Valda so sick and he appears to bear it so patiently. I hope he will get well again. For myself, I am almost an exception, for I have [had}good health ever since I came here only about ten days, then I got a bad cold. And there is but few that can say that. In fact, I need not had that if I had been careful. But it happened when life wasn’t worth sharing. I wouldn’t [have] went to no trouble then, but I think much better of it now. I hope we will never have such reverses again. Our country is suffering yet and may every true man be as willing to help as when this war first broke out. God knows that we have had defeat and disasters enough to discourage my maker. But as long as there is a plank left, don’t give up the ship. I don’t like to see men stay at home to be drafted. There is a great cry about freeing the slaves, fighting for niggers and such. But every slave we get from them is better than a prisoner. For he can more at home than a white man and they can bring all of their whites against us, where every white man that we get in our ranks reduces our laboring class at home. I don’t mean today, but that we are all laboring and having negro regiments. I think that they had ought to be willing to free their brethren. It would be advantageous to both black and white. I am no abolitionist nor I did not believe in having negroes in the army before Lincoln’s proclamation, but I would like to see them now. But I fear they will over run the north. They are quite saucy now, but they will get colonized soon or else sent south again when the war is done. But enough on this subject.
Cousin Sarah, when this reaches you, may it find you enjoying good health again. You are the only female relative that I have write to, that I would take pleasure in writing to. And I wish you would write to me often and I will be very prompt in answering hereafter. When you write home, give my love to your folks. Tell William that I would like to hear from him.
The Ninth Mass. [Infantry] regiment is going to have a great time tomorrow. They are Irish, every one of them, and they are going to hold St. Patrick’s Day. I expect there will be a loud time. The weather is pretty cold here and rather stormy. I think we will soon make another move for Richmond.
Now Sarah, don’t forget to write soon. Your letters are welcome at any time. I ain’t heard from home in some time, but expect a letter soon.
So goodbye for the present. Excuse this letter for it is pretty badly mixed up.
From your cousin, Norman L. King
Miss Sarah White