Norton, Noah N.
Age: 41, credited to Benson, VT
Unit(s): 14th VT INF
Service: enl 8/29/62, m/i 10/21/62, Pvt, Co. D, 14th VT INF, m/o 7/30/63
See Legend for expansion of abbreviationsVITALS
Birth: abt 1822, West Haven, VT
Burial: Mountain View Cemetery, Orwell, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Alan Lathrop
Findagrave Memorial #: 46674743
Alias?: None noted
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)
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Mountain View Cemetery, Orwell, VT
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Not much is known about either Noah N. Norton or his family before 1850 when recorded vital statistics for members of the general population became more organized and systematic. Noah was born May 18, 1822 in West Haven, Vermont. He was the only son of Phiny Norton (1790) and Sally Graves (1794). The first twenty-five years of his life seemed to have been spent in West Haven. He and his family did not move around much.
Noah was married in West Haven, Vermont on November 29, 1847, to Sarah McDonald. She was the daughter of Stillman McDonald and Esther Carpender (Carpenter) from Brandon, Vermont. Noah was about twenty-five at the time. Sarah was about seventeen having been born circa 1830. Moses Field, the very busy minister from the central and southern part of the Lake Champlain Valley, performed the ceremony.
Three years after their wedding, Noah and Sarah were living with a woman named Adeline Hitchcock of West Haven and her family which consisted of three daughters and one son. Whatever Adeline owned was worth $4,500. I assumed it was a farm. Her only son, seventeen years old, worked off the farm at a manufacturing job. Noah was the only male who lived on the place old enough to do farm work. He was labeled a laborer. Adeline really did not need any female help with the domestic chores. She already had four daughters ranging in age from twenty-six to eight who were fully able to handle the housework. But Sarah was part of a package deal - she went with Noah whose help Adeline really did need. Since the 1850 Federal Census made no mention of a husband for fifty-seven-year-old Adeline, it was assumed she was a widow.
At thirty, Noah, with Sarah's help, had his first son. Franklin (Frank) James was born June 20, 1852 (-1935) in West Haven. Another son, George Pliny (1854-1925), came two years later on July 12 in Benson. Four years after George's birth, a third, and final, son was born to Noah and Sarah. He was named Frederick Carl (1858-1922) and was born on February 8, also in Benson. Apparently, Noah and his expanding family had left the Hitchcock farm and set off on their own in Benson.
In 1860, when Noah was about thirty-eight and Sarah was about thirty, they lived in Benson with their three boys. Helen Murray, fourteen, lived with the family. She was probably a domestic servant helping Sarah run the house and manage the care of three young, active male children aged seven to two. Noah was attempting to support a family of six on a $600 homestead. They were not enjoying a high standard of living by any standard. On August 9, 1861 Noah was given another mouth to feed. His only daughter, Mary Adella "Della" Norton (1861-1916) was born to the Benson family. War had broken out the previous April. The mania to join the fight before it was over had begun and was running high. Noah pondered on it for a year after Della was born. He was forty-one years old, an "old man" by the measure of the 1860's. He was married with four young children. He had a subsistence farm to care for. But that bounty could amount to half of what that miserable farm was worth. And, after all, it was for only nine months.
On August 29, 1862, twenty days after celebrating little Mary's first birthday, Noah stood before C.E. Abell, the recruiter, in Shoreham, Vermont (where a higher enlistment bonus was paid than in Benson) and signed his name to the official form. The five feet 10-1/2 inch forty-one-year-old farmer and father of four became Private Norton of Company D, Fourteenth Regiment Vermont Infantry. He had a light complexion for a farmer. His eyes were the customary blue and his hair was brown. His term of service was for nine months. Private Norton reported for mustering into the service on October 21, 1862, at Brattleboro, Vermont. He and the others of the Fourteenth were not officially mustered-in until December 21, 1862.
The Fourteenth Vermont only existed for a short time (they were "Nine Months" men), but they saw hard service during their term of enlistment. At first, the Regiment was attached to those units making up the defenses around Washington, D.C. After December 11, 1862, the Fourteenth was placed on guard duty in and around Fairfax Court House where it was engaged in the repulse of Jeb Stuart's cavalry raid. From March to June 1863, the Vermonters were stationed at Wolf Run Shoals along with other Vermont troops to guard the vital river ford on the Occoquan River. On the 25th of June, the Fourteenth was attached to the Third Division of the First Corps and began its march northward towards Gettysburg. It was a grueling march sometimes covering twenty miles a day for consecutive days at a time. Over two hundred of the Regiment were forced to drop out before every reaching Gettysburg because they could not keep up the pace. The Fourteenth arrived at Gettysburg too late to take part in the first day's action. It bivouacked in a wheat field to the left of Cemetery Ridge. Late on the second day, the Regiment was called into action to help the Thirteenth Vermont repel an attack by General A.P. Hill on the left center of the Union line. After the tremendous opening cannonade of July 3, during which several men of the Fourteenth were killed by an explosion of a battery caisson, the left flank of Pickett's long grey line could be seen advancing towards the concealed Vermonters. At less than one hundred yards distance from the enemy, the men of the Fourteenth rose at command and delivered a devastating volley into the Confederate columns. The Thirteenth and Sixteenth changed fronts and added their fire to that of the Fourteenth. The result was that Pickett's right wing was caught and crushed. After the main charge was halted and Pickett's divisions were streaming back towards Seminary Ridge, four companies of the Fourteenth, A, F, D, and I, captured most of Confederate General Wilcox's Brigade as prisoners. This independent action taken by the Vermont troops, including Chauncey L. Clark, was credited by the Union high command as being crucial to the turning of Pickett's Charge. The Fourteenth was also part of the Union's pursuit of Lee's forces following the three-day battle. It was during this pursuit that, on July 18, 1863, the Fourteenth was released and sent home. The Fourteenth was mustered-out on July 30, 1863.
Forty-one-year-old Private Norton was deemed more valuable driving a team of mules than he was carrying a musket on the front line. As of December 31, 1862, Private Norton was detached as a teamster and assigned to the Quartermaster Department. He remained in that capacity until discharged on July 30, 1863, at the defenses around Washington, D.C.
The role of a Wagoner was to transport the supplies needed by the army. He was responsible for driving the wagon (pulled by as many as six mules, depending on the amount of the load which could be as much as 3,000 pounds) and maintaining it, feeding and caring for the mule team that pulled it, ensuring that it was loaded properly, and seeing that its cargo reached its destination safely as he, personally, was responsible for the wagon's contents. The cargo could be anything that an army of the time required; food, medicines, weapons, ammunition, clothing, shelter tents, tools, the soldiers' knap- sacks, officers' luggage, and anything else the Quartermaster Corps felt was needed. Sometimes the supply wagons were even used as ambulances to carry the wounded. Horses were not used by wagoners because the artillery siphoned them off to pull cannon. Besides, mules did not like the loud noises created by artillery pieces firing or shells bursting. Mules would not stand still like horses did when exposed to such jarring sounds. Oxen were not used because they were too slow even though they could pull a larger load than mules. Mostly wagoners were non-combatants and civilians. Many of them were freed slaves hired by the Army. Any serviceman assigned as a wagoner was on "detached duty", meaning he was not a member of any particular military unit other than the Quartermasters Corps.
After Noah was discharged from the service, he returned to his wife and family and farm back in Benson, Vermont. By 1870 Noah was still trying to make that $600 farm work. Even with two of his sons, Frank and George, helping him, Noah's farm was worth no more in 1870 than it was in 1860 when he went to war. Frederick and Mary went to school when they were not helping their mother around the house.
By 1880, the family had moved off the $600 farm and gone to Orwell, Vermont. At fifty-eight, Noah was still farming. All three of his sons had grown and left home in order to strike out on their own. One at least had married. Unfortunately, Frank had become a widower and was back living at home with his parents by 1880. He worked alongside his father on the Orwell farm. Adella was also at home assisting her mother in keeping house and home. She was still single at nineteen.
When the special Veteran's Schedule was conducted in 1890, Noah was listed as a resident of Orwell and a veteran who enlisted in Company D, Fourteenth Vermont on August 29, 1862. It was noted that he could not remember, nor produce evidence of when he was discharged. There was also a notation to the effect that he suffered from rheumatism and heart trouble. Noah also applied for a pension in August of 1890 which the government granted. Three years later, on January 1, 1893, New Year's Day, Noah died of heart disease at Orwell. He was seventy years, seven months old. Two weeks after his death, Sarah, his widow, applied for a widow's pension. It was granted by the government.
Sarah continued to live in Orwell after Noah passed away. In 1900, she was living with her daughter, Della, and her husband, Walter E. Brock. She was seventy years old and had four grand-children swarming around her ranging in ages from fourteen to three. Three months after her seventy-seventh birthday, on April 12, 1907. Sarah passed away from cirrhosis of the liver in Benson.
NOTES:1. Ancestry.com, Deskins Family Tree; Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records (Death), 1720-1908 for Noah N. Norton.
2. Ibid., McDonald Family Tree; Ibid.
3. Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Noah N. Norton and Sarah McDonald; Ibid., Vermont Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Sarah Maria McDonald, Death.
4. Ibid., 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Noah Norton.
5. Ibid., McDonald Family Tree for Noah N. Norton; Ibid., Vermont Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Frank James Norton; Ibid., 1860 and 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Noah Norton.
6. Ibid.; www.findagrave.com, Memorial #125115271 for George Pliny Norton.
7. Ibid.; Ibid., Memorial #142683839 for Fred C. Norton.
8. Ibid., 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Noah N. Norton.
9. Ibid., McDonald Family Tree for Noah N. Norton.
10. Fold3.com, Compiled Service Records of Union Volunteers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Vermont, p. 3, image 312284457. Hereinafter referred to as Compiled Service Records.
11. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 4, image 312284463.
12. Ancestry.com, U.S., American Civil War Regiments, 1861-1866, 14th Infantry Regiment Vermont.
13. Fold3.com, Compiled Service Records, p. 10, image 312284480.
14. Ibid. Compiled Service Records, p. 3, image 312284457.
15. www.familysearch.org/Wagoner in Civil War/Samuel Goldsmith Fagan.
16. Ancestry.com, U.S. Federal Census for Noah N. Norton.
17. Ibid., U.S. 1880 Federal Census for Noah Norton.
18. Ibid., 1890 U.S. Veterans Schedules for Noah N. Norton.
19. Fold3.com, Pension Index for Noah N. Norton.
20. Ancestry.com, Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Noah N. Norton.
21. Ibid., U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 for Noah N. Norton.
22. Ibid., 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Sarah M. Norton.
23. Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Sarah Maria Norton.
Courtesy of Bernie Noble.