Introduction by Phil Norfleet
The original of the following letter is in my possession and was obtained from among the papers of my great-grandfather, John W. Norfleet (1833-1922) of Cole and Moniteau Counties, Missouri. The letter was written by John's younger sister, Eliza Jane Norfleet. The letter is historically interesting as it provides examples of some of the concerns and tribulations of the residents of Missouri, which was a border state during the Civil War. At the time the letter was written, 18 October 1864, Cole County and other nearby Missouri counties had been under attack by a large Confederate raiding party under the command of Major General Sterling Price. At the time, both John W. Norfleet and his brother, Adam, were among the Union forces defending the area around the state capital, Jefferson City.
Transcript of Letter
Cole County Mo.
October the 18th, 1864
To John W. Norfleet
Dear Brother John,
It is with great pleasure that I take my pen in hand this morning to write you a few lines to let you know that we are all well at this time. I received your kind and affectionate letter the other day which gave me great satisfaction to hear from you. You must excuse me for not writing to you sooner for I thought you had gone up the river [Missouri] in pursuit of the rebels. Until last Friday [when] I heard you were at the bridge. I have no news of much importance to relate to you only everything seems to be quiet here at this time. The Lord only knows how long this will be the case for I believe that the Secesh [sic] is about to get the upper hand of the Union men in this state, but I do trust it is not as bad as I anticipate.
I suppose you are aware of the battle that took place recently with Brown's men and the ... Guard. There was three hundred men on each side. If that be the case it was a bloody battle. I am fearful that Brother Adam is killed, but if he is, I trust he is gone home to Heaven where his troubles will be over.
I want you to live religious and don't be carried away with every little wicked thing in camp. You must remember now is the time to be prepared for death for I think a soldier's life is very uncertain at this time. I will try to go to see you before long, if I can conveniently do so. The health of this country is tolerably good. I would be glad [if] you could come and see us if you could, but I expect it is hard for you to get off as you are the commander at that place. I would have gone to the fare [sic] but we were so busy making molasses that I and David couldn't possibly go.
I think I had better close for this time. Mother, Father and the family joins me in love to you. Write as soon as you receive this.
Eliza Jane Norfleet