Robert Godfrey Norton
Home 7th June, 1863 (Robertville, SC)
My dear Grand-daughter,
Your truly gratifying favor of 26th ult. duly came to hand and would have been answered sooner, but I have much to attend to, and under existing circumstances, I have but little capacity for inditing or executing anything that would be interesting or at all acceptable to you. You see what kind of paper and ink I am compelled to use in responding to your very neat, intelligent and affectionate letter. If you can make out to decipher it, I beg you will receive it as an apology until I can get better suplied with materials for letter writing. These distressing times are productive of difficulties and privations which remind us that we should possess our souls in much patience, humility and submission to the divine will. God grant that we may be preserved from a murmuring spirit, and that the afflictive visitations of divine providence may be sanctified, and be productive of our spiritual advancement. The gloomy prospect now before us, of a devastating and prolonged cruel war, (a war unjustifiable and execrable on the part of our dastardly enemies) is under the control and guidance of Him who cannot err, and has promised that "all things shall work together for good to those who love Him, and put their trust in Him." I truly sympathize with you, my dear daughter, in the peculiar trying circumstances in which you are placed. I have no other consolation to offer, than that all power in the hands of a loving and sympathetic Saviour, who has promised "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee", and "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth". Let us unceasingly pray that God may hasten the time for calamities to be overpast; and that he will mercifully preserve and return unto us our dear Bobby, who is now at a remote distance from us, and under very arduous circumstances, but with commendable patriotism, engaged in repelling a merciless an rapacious foe, who are perse veringly, and with the most malicious intentions, seeking to divest us of every blessing we hold dear on earth. In due time, I am fully persuaded, God will visit them with that retribution which they deserve, and deliver an unoffending people from their diabolical power.- We have been unfaithful to our God, and need chastisement; but to our unprincipled foe, we have done nothing wrong. We deserve to be freed from their power and tyranny, and to have nothing to do with them in the future, but to pray that God would turn them from the error of their ways, or visit them with his retributive justice, and thwart them in their mad designs. It is undoubtedly our duty to pray for our enemies, in a proper sense, but not for the Devil or his emissaries except that God would thwart and restrain them in their vile purposes.-
You say the 47th Ga. Regt., to which our Dr. Robt. is attatched, left on the 19th for Jackson, Miss. I hope you have ere this heard of his safe arrival there. It seems a part of the Ga. 46th Regt. were engaged in the battle, three miles from Jackson on the 14th. Vicksburg (and its surroundings) are now being closely besieged, and will probably be soon the scene of a desparate battle and awful carnage, unless there is a surrender, of the dity in consequence of the expected exhausion of our supplies. "The new from Vicksburg (it is stated at Jackson, 27th May) is cheering, and affairs are wearing a more hopeful and confident face. The Federals have made 7 desparate assaults upon our works, and have been each time repulsed with immense slaughter." It is probable, however, that you are well informed (through medium of the Sav'h or other papers) as regard the progress of the War in the West, and especially in that part of the contest where our dear Robt. is engaged. Do, will you, let us know when and what you hear from him. I will certainly take much interest in communicating with him, and hope he will write me. It would indeed be joyful time to us all when this horrid war shall be terminated; and more especially so if all of my dr. grandsons shall be preserved in safety, and permitted to return in peace to their homes. -Is it too much to hope for such a blessing? Some very dear ones have been taken from us, no more to be seen here upon earth. -How many more, and who among the remaining beloved friends and relatives, now absent from us, may be permitted to return in safety, or mayh fall in battle, or by disease and exposure, and hardship incident to a state of war, we know not; but let us not cease to pray to the blessed God who careth for us; and endeavor to be implicitly resigned and submissive to his blessed will. The destinies of all are with Him.
You express a desire that "Grand-pa, grand-ma, aunt Eliza, sister Sarah and others of the family" would visit you at your father's; and say that your father and mother would be equally pleased for us to do so. Be assured, Dr. daughter, it would afford us a great deal of pleasure to see you all, either at our, or your homes; and hope that providence will open the way for us before long, to have such friendly intercourse. I am not out of hope that even we poor old folks who are very infirm and seldom leave the home, and for some time past, never for more than a few miles at most, may be permitted to make such a delightful journey to see you and your much respected and honored parents and other friends in Georgia. You will please present them our most respectful and affectionate regards. I hope we may not remain strangers; and it is not at unlikely that we will make the effort to visit you all as soon as it is practicable. Both your aunt Eliza and sister Sarah have been very sick ever since you saw them last, and have not yet been able to leave their chambers. Poor Sarah made an effort, yesterday evening, to come out and take a little ride, but she was so feeble, that she fainted in the attempt. She was ill with typhoid fever several weeks, and is now slowly recovering strength.- My sister, too, is very feeble, and has been quite sick. They are as sell as usual at Alexander's, James' and Susie's. John stayed with Sarah and did not leave until she was better.- We occasionally see William and John, as they are acting as comissaries and foragers, and come up every few days, stay a night or a few hours, and are off again. The other boys we seldom see- George, Silas and Xan very seldom get a sight of home.- The abominable Yankees (perhaps you will have heard) are continually on the alert to make devastations on our coast as they are permitted to do.- During the past week, they burnt Bluffton, and many valuable residences, the week before, on the Combahee River, as well as the bridge at Combahee Ferry; and carried nearly 700 slaves from the plantations near the ferry.- We are continually expecting some raid from them, or attack upon the rail road between Charleston and Savannah.- Consequently, furloughs are not easily obtained, except for a very short period and in cases of emergency. I hope you will find it convenient frequently to write to some of us, and let us know what you hear from Robert, where he is and how situationed. Urge him to make God his friend, director, and preserver. Surely this is all-important with him. If it be practicable, it is desirable that he should write us frequently. I am glad to hear father has promising crops.- The seasons have been very unpropitious with us, in this neighborhood. After a protracted drought, which made it very late in getting seed up, we have had it excessively wet for some weeks past; and now we are contending with bog and grass, which render the prospect very unpromising.
All the family unite with me in tendering our most affectionate regards both to yourself and your parents and family.
Yr. afft. G,father-Robt. G. Norton
The writer of this letter was the son of William Norton, the Revolutionary ancestor. He married his first cousin, Sarah Mosse - was "Ordinary" of Beaufort County for more than thirty years.
Excerpt from the Norton & Mosse Family Record, written by Martha Norton Buckner (Robert Godfrey Norton's Daughter)
As far back as we can trace the Nortons, after they came from England (by way of the Barbadoes, but this dear old lady did not know this, -note, E.M.N.) they lived on St. Helena for over a century. After Grandfather Mosse moved to Black Swamp, about 1807, and divided a large body of land among his children, he made but one crop. Died in 1808. Their graves are lost, or nearly so. (First date of death in narrative 1809, - do not know which is correct, E.M.N.) Aunt Graham built a house on the next tract to them. She left it to my parents, who sold it to Mr. John H. Roberts, Sr. My father, Robert G. Norton Sr. settled on the extreme end of the tract inherited by mother (Sarah Mosse) from her father (Dr. Geo. Mosse), on the Coosawhatchie Road, two miles from Robertville. That was the family home burned by the Yankees. Mother died in a cabin there on the premises two years after the war. Then father (Rob't G. Sr.) and his two single daughters, Margaret Norton and (Mrs.) Martha Norton Buckner (Compiler of this record) moved to the house of his grand-daughter, Mrs. George Goethe, where he died nearly a year after mother, on the 26th of May, 1868, aged 79yrs., 5mos. and 11days. He was disabled for several years. His daughter, Adeline, wife of Rev. Jas. Swent, lives quite near where he passed the last six months of his life. He and mother, also their son, Robert Godfrey Norton, Jr., who died just after his graduation from Furman University, aged 25, with some of their grandchildren lie in Robertville Churchyard. Six young children of theirs are in the old cemetery, Isabella Graham in her fourth year, and five at their birth. Roberts Sweat, their grandson, is interred in Robertville.
Robert Godfrey Norton's records and his father William Norton's records appear in the Roster of South Carolina's troops during the Revolutionary War. The actual text from the source cited is below (notice the birth and death dates of William Norton don't seem to match those of other records. This might warrant further investigation.):
Norton, Robert Godfrey b. Beufort District, S.C. m. Sarah Mosse He served with South Carolina troops. McCall, III, 177. Norton, William b. 1744, S.C. d. 1800 m. Mary Godfrey He served with South Carolina troops. McCall, II, 177.