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Diary, 1848 September 8-1851 October 9

 Item — Box: 1, Folder: 2
Call Number: MSS 11, Series I

Scope and Contents

Holograph diary, including an alphabetical roll of British squads, personal entries and notes about Norris' debts and expenditures, some graphite sketches, and one pen and ink sketch.

The diary's fly-leaf has pen and ink drawing of a barking dog and the inscription "R.P. Norris." It contains various types of entries, the first being an alphabetical roll of "No. 2 Squad of 'B' or Captain E. Staunton's Company, 22nd Sept. 1847." Soldiers' vital statistics (age, height, marital status, etc.) are recorded here.

There are several pages of journal entries (in graphite and pen-and-ink), most of which record increasingly dangerous conditions near Fort White. Norris writes of multiple skirmishes involving heavy gunfire which incurred serious losses. He writes of seeing men dead on the battlefield and of the wounding of his friend "Cathy," a fellow soldier mentioned frequently in his other diary. Details of the native tribespeople's intimidating presence are found here--Norris at one points notes that "heat and fatigue compelled...[some] to drop coats and blankets which the enemy picked up and displayed to us, yelling most frightfully."

After a particularly serious skirmish, Norris writes, "what was our horror on seeing 15 of our countrymen lying dead partially stripped, 7 with them about 4 kaffirs & 2 wagon drivers. It was indeed a painful sight and to be obliged to leave the bodies unburied." Gunfire is never far away from the men at Fort White, and it is almost constantly within earshot, according to Norris's entries. The situation seems very grim as the diary entries cease, suggesting that Norris continued to face dangerous encounters with the opposing forces on a regular basis.

A few graphite sketches show landscapes and some small studies of various figures. At the back of the volume are pages of accounts paid and received, some of which consist of notes penned by other soldiers, stating that they have received money from Norris (presumably to pay back a debt).


  • 1848 September 8-1851 October 9


Physical Description

160 pages (with many blanks) ; 13 cm

Conditions Governing Access

From the Collection: The materials are open for research.

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Part of the Yale Center for British Art, Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

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