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Norton, Levi W. to wife

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC09006.12 Author/Creator: Norton, Levi W. Place Written: Washington, D.C. Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 23 April 1862 Pagination: 7 p. : envelope : free frank ; 21.1 x 13.4 cm.

Envelope has free frank signature of Reuben Eaton Fenton. Visited the Washington Navy Yard yesterday evening with Dr. Sam. Entered through Latrobe Gate, which has a large eagle placed on top of the gateway. Comments that the yard contains other devices which have been "specifically adapted to the naval character of the place." Sentinels are walking around the yard in their neat uniforms. Inside near the entrance are four huge cannons. Two of them came from Algiers and the other two were cast at the same place and time in France. Afterwards, one was sent to an unnamed area in the Louisiana Purchase, and the other was sent to "Mexico during the war with that nation." After years of separation, the two cannons were placed side by side in the United States, where they will remain. The cannons are elegantly cast and marked. Five buildings are provided for the Commandant of the yard and the other officers. They entered the house where they were putting up fixed ammunitions. There were shot and shells of every size; most are progressing to completion, boxed, and ready to be put in ships that are heading to the South. Shells that are cast hollow are filled with iron balls. The fuses are arranged to go off in any number of seconds between one and 15, the person can decide the time amount. Visited the production rooms where "girls and boys are making cannon fuses and cartridges and filling caps and rockets and signal lights for sea and land." Went into the rolling room where they roll iron and copper out into thin plates for the bottoms of vessels. Sees a small forest of willows near the Commandant's house, which was "brought from near the grave of Napoleon on the isle of Helena, his exiled home." Concludes the letter by stating that the Navy Yard is a "picture of industry and neatness and worthy of the nation whose interests are well cared for by the Commandant and laborers."

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