About Louis Bell:
Colonel Louis Bell, son of Governor Samuel Bell and his second wife Lucy, was born in Chester, New Hampshire, on March 8, 1837. His siblings included Dr. Luther V. Bell, New Hampshire Senator James Bell, and the Honorable Samuel D. Bell, Chief Justice of New Hampshire. He attended Derry and Gilford Academies and at eighteen graduated from Brown University. In 1857, after he was admitted to the Bar, Bell opened a law office in Farmington, New Hampshire. He married Mary Anne (Mollie) Persis Bouton, third daughter of Rev. Dr. Bouton, of Concord, New Hampshire on June 8, 1859. The couple had two children: a daughter, Marian, born September 5, 1860 and a son, Louis, born December 5, 1864.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Louis Bell enlisted and was appointed Captain of Company A, First New Hampshire Regiment of Infantry. On August 5, 1861,he accepted the appointment of Lieutenant Colonel to the Fourth Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteers and quickly won the recognition of General T. W. Sherman who promoted Bell to Inspector General and Chief of his staff in October 1861. Bell succeeded to the command of Colonel, Fourth New Hampshire Regiment on March 18, 1862. In April, Col. Bell’s regiment occupied the fortified town of St. Augustine, Florida. While there, Bell was relieved of his command for an alleged violation of Government orders. General Brannan reinstated him in September 1862. In the winter and spring of 1863, Bell commanded a brigade consisting of the Third and Fourth New Hampshire Regiments and the Ninth and Eleventh Maine Regiments. His brigade was involved in the sieges of Forts Wagner and Gregg on Morris Island and Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina. On May 9, 1864, Bell’s brigade took part in the battle of Petersburg, and helped lay siege to the town from June to December 1864. From December 7-27, Bell led an unsuccessful expedition against Fort Fisher, Wilmington, North Carolina. A second expedition against Fort Fisher resulted in the fort’s capture on January 15, 1865. During the battle, Col. Bell was mortally wounded and died January 16, 1865. Secretary of War Stanton posthumously awarded Bell the rank of Brigadier General. Mollie Bell died a few months after her husband.
About the Louis Bell Papers:
The collection consists of personal letters, military correspondence, and miscellaneous items. The personal letters were written between 1857-1865, primarily between Louis Bell and his wife, Mollie. These letters contain family news, gossip, love notes, and descriptions of life in the field, including a graphic account of a military execution. Other personal correspondence includes miscellaneous receipts, invoices, and letters from family members and business and personal acquaintances. This series contains 59 (fifty-nine) documents. The military correspondence and letters between Louis Bell and various military personnel were written between 1861-1864. The contents of the military papers include drill reports, morning reports, special orders, invoice ordinances, receipts for military supplies, a pass and pledge of allegiance, requests for promotions, and formal charges for errant officers. Some materials refer to the episode where Bell was accused of disobeying general orders. This series contains 77 (seventy-seven) documents. Other series within the collection include photocopies of the originals, bibliographic material, and Bell’s full military record.
- Personal Correspondence
- Military Correspondence
- Miscellaneous Correspondence
- Photocopies of Personal Correspondence
- Photocopies of Military Correspondence
- Photocopies of Bibliographic Materials
- Photocopies of Bell’s Military Record (From the National Archives)
I. Personal Correspondence
|f.1||September-December, 1857. Contains three letters.
September 1857. From Mary Anne Bouton to Professor regarding glass picture.
September 1857. Unaddressed personal letter about family and friends.
December 1, 1857. From Mollie to Augusta (Gussie) a chatty letter.
|f.2||January-June, 1858. Contains four letters from Mollie Bouton.
January 30, 1858. A letter written to a friend.
March 26, 1858. A chatty letter to Augusta.
June 1858. A chatty letter to Augusta that mentions Louis Bell’s law practice.
June 1858. A partial letter to “Gussie”.
|f.3||September, 1860. Contains two letters.
September 5, 1860. From Richard F. Dunne to Louis Bell. Pay voucher to Louis Bell for a write-up in legal action, “The State vs. Jonathan Chadwick”.
September 20, 1860. From Harriette to Louis Bell. A personal invitation for Louis Bell to visit his niece and sick mother on the Sabbath.
|f.4||June, 1861. Contains four letters.
June 2, 1861. From Louis Bell to Mollie Bell. Written in pencil from Camp Mansfield above Georgetown, describing
camp life and scouting expeditions.
|f.5||November, 1861. Contains two letters.
November 1861. From Louis Bell, Inspector General. Bell practiced writing a letter of condolence to a dead soldier’s relatives.
November 5, 1861. From Mollie Bell to her uncle. She writes of family news.
|f.6||December 28, 1861. Contains one letter.
A business letter from S.H. Feinman and Co., Dry Goods and Clothier, to Louis Bell regarding the renewal of an insurance policy.
|f.7||January 1862. Contains five letters.
January 8, 1862. From John Bell Bouton to Louis Bell. Mollie Bell’s brother wrote to Bell regarding family matters.
January 12, 1862. From Mollie Bell to Louis Bell. Mollie, slightly sad and depressed, writes an expressive letter to Bell.
January 14, 1862. From George W Drew and Co. to Louis Bell. A receipt for sash, sword, belt and cloak. It contains both letter and bill.
January 15, 1862. From Mollie Bell to Louis Bell. Mollie discusses home life and their daughter, Marian Bell.
|f.8||February-March 1862. Contains three letters from Louis Bell to Mollie Bell.
February 6, 1862. In a loving letter, Bell talks of their daughter, the war, and economics.
March 8, 1862. Bell writes that he is upset at not receiving any letters, then goes on to talk of mild combat at
the Seabrook and Savannah rivers.
|f.9||April 1862. Contains three letters.
April 7, 1862. From C. M. Sawyer to Louis Bell concerning promotions and other military matters.
April 8, 1862. From Louis Bell to Mollie Bell. A short note to Mollie giving news of Fort Sumter, Morris Island,
Folly Island, and military matters.
|f.10||June-November 1862. Contains seven letters.
June 1st, 3rd, and 5th, 1862. From Mollie Bell to Augusta. She describes family matters and news of Bell to her friend.
July 7, 1862. From Mollie Bell to Louis Bell. Mollie mentions English intervention, political themes, and writes
November 20, 1862. From Louis Bell to Mollie Bell. Stationed in Beaufort, South Carolina, Bell writes of General
Mitchell’s death due to yellow fever, mentions bullet-proof vests, getting over his illness, meeting up with his old
school roommate and looking for a new regiment chaplain.
|f.11||February-August 1863. Contains six letters.
February 12, 1863. From Mollie Bell’s sister to Mollie. Family letter-general gossip.
March 17, 1863. From Harriette to Hon. Charles H. Bell, her uncle, regarding Mollie Bell’s visit to Beaufort.
August 23, 1863. A partial love-letter from Mollie Bell to Louis Bell, writing from Bell Cottage, Little Bowshead.
|f.12||October-December 1863. Contains five letters.
October 21, 1863. From T. W. Percy to Louis Bell. A business letter regarding payment of a note for $21.
October 25, 1863. From Mollie Bell to Louis Bell. A long family letter concerning domestic news.
November 4, 1863. From Louis Bell to Mollie Bell. Louis expects to be moved to Beaufort, with the prospect of
going to St. Augustine. He mentions Fort Sumter.
|f.13||January-April 1864. Contains seven letters.
January 6, 1864. From Marian Bell to Aunt Hattie Noyes. Child’s letter.
April 6, 1864. From John B. Bouton to Col. Louis Bell. Letter from Bell’s brother-in-law (difficult to read).
|f.14||June 1864-March 1865. Contains five letters.
June 21, 1864. From Wm. Badger to Louis Bell. Asking for political help.
July 11, 1864. From Brig. Gen. Cumming. Request for work at night.
II. Military Correspondence
|f.15||May-October 1861. Contains five letters.
May 25, 1861. Special Order # 112, State of South Carolina Headquarters. Signed S. R. Gist. Appointments to establish Corps. of Military Engineers.
September 2, 1861. Addressed to Major I. H. Trapne. Letter regarding supplies and discipline.
September 30, 1861. From J. A. Parker to Lieut. Col. Louis Bell. Receipt for uniform dress and accessories, paid $84.75.
October 27, 1861. From Headquarters of the Fourth N.H. Regiment, Steamer Baltic to Capt. C. W. Foster, A.A.G., Third Brigade. Letter regarding wrong cartridges of 69 calibre and no caps.
October 27, 1861. From Headquarters, Expedition Corps. Lieut. Pelones to Brig. Gen. H. G. Waugh, Commander, Brigade, E.C. Answer to general inquiry: whereabouts of Sutter’s division unknown.
|f.16||November 1861. Contains eight letters.
November 16, 1861. From Louis Bell, Lt. Col., Inspt. Gen. 4th N. H. V., Hilton Head, South Carolina, to Col. Christi, 50th Penn. Letter requesting drill reports and number of hours for officers and enlisted men.
November 19, 1861. From E. B. Cox, Adjt., 4th N.H.V. Reg., Headquarters, Hilton Head to 4th N.H. V. Headquarters.
Accuses a Captain George Duvall of abetting rebels at the time Fort Sumter fell.
|f.17||November 28-December 2, 1861. Drill Reports. Contains nine letters and one holder.
November 27. Ninth Maine Regiment, signed P. C. M. Firbish, Adjt.
November 27. Forty-seventh Reg. New York State Vol., signed E. Bleux, Adjt. and Jas. L. Fraser, Lt. Col.
November 28. Eighth Maine Reg., signed James Dingley Jr., Adjt.
November 28. Third Rhode Island Vol. Reg., signed S. W. Brown, Colonel.
December 2. Third Rhode Island Vol. Reg. signed S. W. Brown, Col.
|f.18||December 5-19, 1861. Drill Reports. Contains nine letters and one folded holder.
December 5. Third Reg. N. H. Vol. signed A. J. Hill, Adjt. and E. R. Fellows, Col.
December 10. Eighth Maine Reg. signed James Dingley Jr., Adjt.
December 11. Forty-seventh Reg. N.Y.S. Vol. signed E. Bleux, Adjt. and Jas. L. Fraser, Lt. Col.
December 16. Seventh Reg. Connecticut Vol. signed Grosvenor Starr, Adjt.
|f.19||December 25-31, 1861. Drill Reports. Contains eight letters.
December 25. Sixth Reg. Conn. Vol. signed Lt. Col. Wm. B. Ely and S. C. Peck, Jr., Adjt.
December 25. Eighth Maine Vol. Reg. signed James Dingley, Adjt.
December 31. From M. P. Strickland, 48th, Regt. N.Y.S.V. to Louis Bell, Inspt. Gen. Letter concerning Suttership
with Bell’s answer on back.
|f.20||January-April 1862. Contains eight letters.
January 11. Hilton Head. From Louis Bell, Inspt. Gen., to Brig. Gen. T. W. Sherman. Bell suggests the wearing of badges or marks to identify soldiers.
February 8. Hilton Head. From Lt. Col. Louis Bell, Inspt. Gen, to Lt. George Merrill, Adjt. A receipt payment of mess expenses for January, 1862, in the amount of $20.08.
March 20. Ft. Marion, Florida. From Lt. Col. Louis Bell to Brig. Gen. T. W. Sherman. Bell requests instructions.
April 6. From Dr. Peck to Col. Louis Bell. A request for a pass.
April 15. From Ordinance Officer Nor. Dist. Dept. of the South, Hilton Head, S. C. to the commanding officer, Ft. Marion, Florida. The letter describes invoice of ordinance stores and duplicate receipts sent to Florida.
April 19. From Capt. Wm. Badger, Co. D, 4th N.H. Vol., Ft. Marion, to Lt. Col. Louis Bell. A request for the promotions of two men.
April 25. From Fanny Williams of St. Augustine, Florida. to Lt. Col. Louis Bell. Fanny writes requesting payment for services of her servant Lucinda, a cook for Bell.
Pre-printed pass and pledge of allegiance form for Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Florida.
|f.21||May-June 1862. Contains nine letters.
May 6. From J [A] to the commanding officer, St. Augustine. A letter explaining two duplicate receipts for equiptment.
May 6. From Nathaniel Brown, Provost Marshall, to Col. Louis Bell. Morning report: oath of allegiance, closing a house of prostitution because of diseases.
May 10. From Nathaniel Brown, Provost Marshall, to Col. Louis Bell. Morning report: two passes issued, reports of
|f.22||July-December 1862. Contains nine letters.
July 12. From L. T. Treadwell, 1st Lt. chief of ordinance, to Col. Louis Bell. An acknowledgement of receipt for a letter regarding discrepencies in ordinance stores and an explanation of proper procedures.
July 19. From L. T. Treadwell, Lt. chief of ordinance, to Col. Louis Bell. A letter with duplicate receipts and invoices.
August 26. From Col. Louis Bell, in Hospital, to Brig. Gen. A. H. Perry. A letter of appeal for protection against charges in General Order #27.
September 9. From Abram. Libby, Adjt., 3rd N.H.V. Reg., to Col. Louis Bell. Muster account for 3rd Reg.
September 15. From A. J. Fogg, Acting Registrar of Deeds for Rockingham County, Exeter, N.H. to Col. Louis Bell. A request for appointment to company command and promotion of G. W. Huchins, Co. K, 4th N.H. Reg.
September 19. From D. P. Dearborn, Acting Assistant Surgeon of Detachment 4th Reg. N.H.V., to Lt. Charles A. Carleton, Act. Adjt. of Detachment, 4th Reg. N.H.V. A letter of resignation.
September 19. From Lt. Charles A. Carleton, A.A., to Capt. L. Willard Saxton, A.A.A. General. Transmission of resignation of David Dearborn. A note on back addressed to Dr. Dearborn and signed by Charles Carleton gives directions to send the resignation to Adjt. Fuller because Saxton refused to forward letter.
September 25. From Col. Louis Bell. Official charges against Capt. Michael O’Flynn: drunkeness while Regiment Officer of the Day.
[December] 1862. From J. W. Ladd, 1st Lt., ordinance, to Col.Louis Bell, Beaufort, S. C. Invoice for ordinance.
|f.23||February-December 1863. Contains six letters.
February 6. From J. O. Mason, Paymaster, to Louis Bell. Request for September and October payrolls.
May 27. From Col. John H. Jackson, 3rd N.H. Reg., to Col. Louis Bell. A letter regarding the turning over of musical
|f.24||March-August 1864. Contains five letters.
March 6. Telegram from Concord, N. H. to Col. Louis Bell and Col. J. A. Stevens. Request to send home as many men as possible. Letterhead: American Telegraph Co.
June 19. From Wm. Russell Jr., Asst. Adjt. Gen., to Col. Louis Bell. Orders from Gen. Smith: Bell, with 3rd Division, will report to Gen. Brooks to relieve 6th Corps.
July 13. From Lt. R. W. Woodbury, A.O. Officer, to Col. Louis Bell. Request to test new bullets, results written on back of letter.
July 31. From Brig. Gen. M. W. Turner, 2nd Div. 10th A.C., in the field, to commanding officers of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
brigades. Field letter regarding movement and transportation of troops.
|f.25||Miscellaneous. Contains two letters.
May 31st. From J. C. Eastman, Surgeon. Surgeon’s Morning Report: a sick list for Companies A,C,D,E,F,G, and J. Contains 52 names.
Not dated. Partial Inventory Ordinance report.
III. Miscellaneous Correspondence
|f.26||Contains eight letters.
[March 26, 1858] Date written in pencil on back of letter. From Mollie Bouton. Partial letter that mentions Louis
Not Dated. From Jessie M. Lombard, Old Point, Comfort, Va. To Mollie and Louis Bell. A thank you note for a
IV. Photocopies of Personal Correspondence
V. Photocopies of Military Correspondence
VI. Photocopies of Bibliographic Materials
|f.32||Introduction and Miscellaneous items.|
|f.33||Memoir of Louis Bell.|
|f.34||N.H. in the Great Rebellion.|
|f.35||The Defense of Fort Fisher by its Commander, William Lamb, Colonel, C.S.A.|
VII. Photocopies of Bell’s Complete Military Record (From the National Archives)