Thursday, April 24, 2008
by Lee White
As Patrick can relate, one of my favorite soldiers is Newton Halbert of the 24th Alabama Infantry. Newt, as he was called, was not well suited to be a soldier. He comes across as being too fragile for the rough life of a soldier, at least to begin with. I learned of "Little Newt" through the letters of his brother-in-law, Newton N. Davis, later Colonel of the 24th. Davis kept his wife informed about her little brother through the war. Little Newt almost becomes comic relief as you read of his many misfortunes.
Newton Halbert was only 15 and a student in 1860 according to the Census. He was of course still living with his father, Xenophan, who is listed as a farmer in Lowndes County, Mississippi, with $10,000 in Real Estate and $55,000 in Personal Estate, including 38 slaves, with 21 of them being under the age of 18. So Newt would have had a fairly easy life growing up.
The first noticable reference to Newt comes in comes in Newton Davis's letter of July 29th, 1862, "Your Brother Newt is complaining a little. He has been out on picket duty for two days and has taken cold. He complains of his head aching but has no fever. I hope that it is nothing serious and that he will be well in a day or two. He wants you to be certain to tell his mother to send him some shirts the first opportunity..."
I will post more of the misadventures of "Little Newt" over the next few weeks.