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Collection Title: Lovell (Mansfield) Letters

Collection Number: M58

Dates: September 22, 1861 and March 27, 1863

Volume: 2 Items

Provenance: Conway Barker in 1967.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Mansfield Lovell, son of Dr. Joseph Lovell, Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, and his wife Margaret Mansfield Lovell, was born on October 20, 1822, in a home on Lafayette Square directly facing the White House. Mansfield's grandfather was James S. Lovell, a prominent Boston patriot and signer of the Articles of Confederation during the American Revolution. Joseph Lovell died when Mansfield was only 16: however. Mansfield was able to enter West Point and complete his education. His first military experience occurred during the Mexican War, where he was rewarded for his gallant service with the rank of brevet captain. He resigned the army in 1854 and found employment with Cooper and Hewitt's Iron Works, Trenton, New Jersey: later he moved to New York and worked in the New York street department. While in New York, he trained the Old Guard in operation of the guns of Fort Hamilton.

The outbreak of the Civil War found Lovell in New York serving as deputy street commissioner. He resigned that position and traveled to Virginia where he made known his support for the Confederate cause. He was given the rank of Major General in the Confederate Army and command of Department #1 at New Orleans in October 1861. After Farragut's fleet captured New Orleans, many allegations were made against Lovell's defense and evacuation of the city. Despite these charges, in the Battle of Corinth, Lovell commanded the I Corps, then skillfully directed the rearguard in the Confederate retreat. A series of hearings in 1863 cleared Lovell of any fault in the defense of New Orleans, but his military career suffered, for he was unable to gain another command.

Post-war times found Mansfield Lovell attempting to operate a rice plantation in Georgia. Following the failure of this venture, Lovell returned to New York and there practiced civil engineering until his death on June 1, 1884.

Mansfield and his wife Emily Plympton Lovell were married in 1849: three children are mentioned in these letters.

Scope and Content:

This two letter collection includes letters written by Mansfield Lovell to his wife and to his son.

The first letter, addressed to Emily, his wife, and dated September 22, 1861, was written from Bowling Green, Kentucky, where Lovell was awaiting orders following his attachment to the Confederate Army. Lovell asserts that he will take every opportunity to write, encourages his wife to travel to Kentucky, and gives directions for her travel. He praises the people and the beauty of Kentucky and includes a description of the monetary difference between Kentucky and Tennessee. In closing the letter he greets his three children whom he names as Josie, Mamie, and Kiddie.

The second letter was written to Lovell's son Joseph, from Jackson, Mississippi, on March 27, 1863. He encourages his son, almost twelve years old, to study hard and take his mother for daily walks. The letter as a whole is personal and revolves around his concern for his son.

Related Collections: Lovell Collection at The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


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