The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
Historical Manuscripts Home
Alphabetical List of All Collections | Collections Listed By Subject


Collection Title: Van Buren (Louisa D. Mott) Civil War Memoir and Related Material

Collection Number: M220

Dates: August 24-25, 1861; 1960

Volume: .25 cu. ft.

Provenance: Donated by Ernest A. Walen to the University of Southern Mississippi, October, 1969. (This collection was separated from M123).

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Louisa Dunmore Mott Van Buren, born ca. 1821, was the daughter of Valentine and Louisa Dunmore Mums Mott. She was one of a family of nine -- six sons and three daughters. In 1842, Louisa married William Holme Van Buren, a prominent doctor in New York.

Louisa's father, Valentine Mott, was considered the greatest surgeon in the United States in the years prior to the Civil War. Her younger brother, Captain Thaddeus Phelps Mott, was attached to the 3rd New York Battery and was on duty in the Washington, D.C. area at the start of the Civil War.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of a typescript copy of the Civil War Memoir of Louisa Dunmore Mott Van Buren, and research notes of the original collector of the memoir, Paul Johnston. The typescript is approximately eight pages long and contains that portion of Van Buren's diary that relates to the Civil War activities which she observed August 24-25, 1861, in the area of Washington, D.C.

The memoir begins with comments on the author's arrival in "Washington City." Also discussed are her visits with a Mrs. Freley and her daughter Ella, and Nellie Keyes and her father, General Keyes. The most important feature of this memoir is the description of fortifications in Washington, D.C., but in particular, the Chain Bridge on the Potomac. This may be the best contemporary description of the structure. Mrs. Van Buren's younger brother, Thaddeus P. Mott, was a captain of artillery at the Chain Bridge fortification.

Mrs. Van Buren also makes several comments about the Union soldiers. These include an observance of the aftermath of the first Battle of Bull Run, July 18-21, 1861, and a detailed description of President Lincoln's review of the troops on August 25, 1861. Likewise, she describes General McDowell and General McClellan and comments on the value of religion in the camps. Also of interest is her description of General Robert E. Lee's plantation, Arlington, which had been appropriated as headquarters for General McClellan, and her attitude toward General Lee's treatment of slaves.

The original collector of this memoir, Paul Johnston, did extensive research on people and places mentioned. His notes, included in the collection, help to fill gaps in our understanding of this document.


Created by: Bobs M. Tusa
Prepared and maintained by
The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections
http://www.lib.usm.edu/spcol/index.php
118 College Drive #5148   Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5148

Please send comments or questions to Ask-a-Librarian
Revised: December 14, 2004