(1840 - 1883)
Home State: Virginia
Education: Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Class of 1860;Class Rank: 41/41
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 1st Virginia Infantry
He was among the VMI cadets and staff present at the execution of John Brown at Charles Town, VA on 2 December 1859. On 21 April 1861, then age 20, he enlisted in Richmond as Sergeant, Company D, First Virginia Infantry. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on 13 May and was elected Captain on 26 April 1862 at the reorganization of the regiment. He was wounded at Seven Pines, VA on 31 May 1862.
On the Campaign
He commanded the regiment at Turner's Gap on South Mountain on 14 September and at Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862 as senior officer present. Major Palmer is often credited with command there, but he was detailed to General Kemper's staff and was on that duty in Maryland, not with the regiment.
The rest of the War
He was briefly in command of the regiment at Gettysburg, PA on 3 July 1863 until he was wounded there. He was promoted to Major on 25 August 1863 (to date from 3 July). He led part of the Brigade in the defense of Milford Station, VA on 21 May 1864.
On 28 February 1865 he wrote President Davis requesting an appointment as Colonel of a "Negro Regiment", with letters of recommendation from Generals Corse, Terry and Pickett. There was no known reply and no such units were actually organized.
He was captured at Sailor's Creek, VA on 6 April 1865, was at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, DC on 17 April, sent to Johnson's Island, OH on 1 May, and was a prisoner there until he signed an oath of amnesty and was released on 30 May 1865.
After the War
In 1870 he was a farmer at Chotank Township in King George County, VA. He later owned and ran an unsuccessful drugstore at 14th and Franklin Streets in Richmond (1875-78) and was Superintendent of the Richmond Street Railway Company. He died of dysentery or similar disease in Richmond in 1883, relatively young, at age 43.
References & notes
His service from his Compiled Service Records (CSR), online from fold3, and from the War History.1 The regimental command situation at Sharpsburg from Clemens.2 Personal details from his bio sketch in the VMI Archives, his obituary in the Richmond Dispatch of 13 July 1883, family genealogists, and the US Census of 1860 & 1870. His gravesite is on Findagrave.
The Norton grape, grown for wine in Virginia and other states, was named for his father, physician and agriculturist Daniel Norborne Norton (1791-1842), who developed the variety.
More on the Web
See more about that 1865 letter to Jefferson Davis and the issue of enlisting black troops in the Confederacy, in a post on the blog.
05/13/1840; Richmond, VA
07/12/1883; Richmond, VA; burial in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, VA
1 Loehr, Charles Theodore, War History of the Old First Virginia Infantry Regiment, Army of Northern Virginia, Richmond: W.E. Jones, printer, 1884, pp. 17, 24, 30, 37, 61-62 [AotW citation 26196]
2 Carman, Ezra Ayers, and Dr. Thomas G. Clemens, editor, The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, 3 volumes, El Dorado Hills (CA): Savas Beatie, 2010-17, Vol. II, pg. 549 (note 87) [AotW citation 26197]