Collection number: MC 165
Size: (7 boxes) (2.33 cu.ft.)
About Louis and Mollie Bell
Louis Bell was born in Chester, New Hampshire on March 8, 1837, the son of Governor Samuel Bell and his second wife, Lucy. His siblings included Dr. Luther V. Bell, New Hampshire Senator James Bell, and New Hampshire Chief Justice Samuel D. Bell. Louis Bell attended school at the Derry and Gilford Academies and graduated from Brown University at the age of eighteen. In 1857, after being admitted to the New Hampshire bar, Bell opened his own law practice in Farmington, New Hampshire. On June 8, 1859, Bell married his childhood friend Mary Anne (Mollie) Persis Bouton, third daughter of Rev. Dr. Bouton of Concord. Together, the couple had two children: a daughter, Marian, born September 5, 1860 and a son, Louis, born December 5, 1864. A third child, born in the spring of 1862, lived for just three weeks.
In 1861, after the Civil War broke out, Louis Bell enlisted in the First N.H. Volunteer Regiment. He initially served as Captain of Company A. When the First, a 90-day regiment disbanded, Bell joined the newly-formed Fourth N.H Volunteer Regiment. On August 5, 1861 he was appointed its lieutenant colonel. After a brief assignment with the Army of the Potomac, the new regiment was sent to occupy the South Carolina lowlands south of Charleston. Bell received the recognition of Brigadier General Thomas W. Sherman, who appointed Bell as his Inspector General and Chief of his Staff.
In January 1862, a force led by Bell undertook a Florida campaign during which it captured Fernandina, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine. On March 18, 1862, Bell was promoted to full colonel and became commander of the regiment. While commanding the regiment’s occupation of St. Augustine, General David Hunter had Bell arrested and relieved of his command for allegedly returning a fugitive slave to her owners. Following a half-hearted investigation, Bell was reinstated to his command in September 1862 without trial.
The regiment returned to South Carolina in late 1862 and by the following spring, Bell commanded a brigade which included the Third and Fourth New Hampshire Regiments and the Ninth and Eleventh Maine Regiments. The brigade took part in several siege operations against works outside of Charleston. These included the capture of both Fort Wagner and Fort Gregg, located on Morris Island, and the shelling of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.
Following a brief furlough, Bell’s brigade was reassigned to Virginia where it took part in the battle of Drewry’s Bluff (May 15, 1864) before settling into the siege lines surrounding Petersburg, Virginia. Bell’s forces also took part in the Battle of the Crater (July 30, 1864), a bloody affair which did little to move the siege lines. In December 1864, Bell and his command were part of a failed expedition against Fort Fisher, located at the mouth of the Cape Fear Rivers outside of Wilmington, North Carolina. A second expedition attacked Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865. Though successful, Colonel Bell was mortally wounded, dying a few hours later. He was buried in Chester, New Hampshire. Mollie Bell, wracked with grief, survived her husband by only four months.
- 1861, November 4th: 4th Regiment arrived in Port Royal, helped to capture Hilton Head S.C.
- 1862, January: Left to capture Fernandina, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine. The 4th Regt. Garrisoned at St. Augustine.
- 1862, September: 4th Regt. Ordered to Beaufort, South Carolina
- 1863, spring: Attack on Morris Island to start siege of Charleston.
- 1863, July-September: Siege of Fort Wagner S.C.
- 1863, September through 1864, January: Participation in the siege of Charleston
- 1864, May: After a brief furlough, the 4th Regt. met at Drewry’s Bluff to make a push for Richmond.
- 1864, June: Siege of Petersburg. Bell successfully captured prisoners but the regiment experienced heavy losses in the trenches.
- 1864, August: Series of skirmishes turn into the battle of Deep Bottom against Gen. Robert E. Lee.
- 1864, September: After extremely heavy losses, those who did not re-enlist return home to New Hampshire. All others are sent in the expeditions for Fort Fisher.
- 1864, December: The first expedition against Fort Fisher is unsuccessful.
- 1865, January 15: Fort Fisher is successfully captured by the second expedition. Col. Louis Bell is mortally wounded in battle and dies that evening.
Timeline of the 4th New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment
About the Louis Bell Papers (1828-1900)
The collection consists of personal and military correspondence, military reports, publications, miscellaneous items, and copies of Louis Bell’s service records. The personal correspondence within this collection are largely between Bell and his wife and consist of love letters, gossip, and descriptions of life in the field. There is also correspondence between various other family members and friends contained in personal correspondence. The military correspondence is made up of general correspondence between soldiers, details of the events at St. Augustine, outfitting receipts and requests, as well as general orders. The Louis Bell Papers contain muster records, drill reports, and morning reports dating to the first half of the war when Bell was Inspector General. Various publications are also included and consist of newspapers, pamphlets, and booklets that arose during wartime. Additional miscellaneous items such drawings and poems from the field, a photograph of Louis Bell, and his complete service records round out the collection.
This collection is open.
Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.
[Identification of item], [Folder Number], [Box Number], Louis Bell Papers, 1828-1900, MC 165, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.
Collection Ownership History
This collection consists of separate acquisitions which were passed through family lineage and manuscripts dealers prior to processing at this repository.
Arrangement is chronological.
This series is divided into three parts: Letters from Louis to Mollie Bell, those from Mollie to Louis, and letters from both to and from other individuals. The first two parts contain love notes, accounts of military actions, expressions of homesickness, gossip, prayers for a safe homecoming, accounts of their children, among many other topics. Correspondence with others includes business receipts, condolence letters, and the like.
|Box 1, Folder 1||Louis to Mollie: Aug. - Sept. 1860|
|Box 1, Folder 2||Louis to Mollie: Oct. 1860|
|Box 1, Folder 3||Louis to Mollie: Jan. - Feb. 1861|
|Box 1, Folder 4||Louis to Mollie: Apr. - June 1861|
|Box 1, Folder 5||Louis to Mollie: July 1861|
|Box 1, Folder 6||Louis to Mollie: Oct. 1861|
|Box 1, Folder 7||Louis to Mollie: Nov. 1861|
|Box 1, Folder 8||Louis to Mollie: Dec. 1861|
|Box 1, Folder 9||Louis to Mollie: Jan. 1862|
|Box 1, Folder 10||Louis to Mollie: Feb. 1862|
|Box 1, Folder 11||Louis to Mollie: Mar. 1862|
|Box 1, Folder 12||Louis to Mollie: Apr. –May 1862|
|Box 1, Folder 13||Louis to Mollie: June-July 1862|
|Box 1, Folder 14||Louis to Mollie: Aug. –Sept. 1862|
|Box 1, Folder 15||Louis to Mollie: Oct. 1862|
|Box 1, Folder 16||Louis to Mollie: Nov. 1862|
|Box 1, Folder 17||Louis to Mollie: Dec. 1862|
|Box 1, Folder 18||Louis to Mollie: Jan. –Apr. 1863|
|Box 1, Folder 19||Louis to Mollie: May 1863|
|Box 1, Folder 20||Louis to Mollie: July 1863|
|Box 1, Folder 21||Louis to Mollie: Aug. 1863|
|Box 1, Folder 22||Louis to Mollie: Sept. –Oct. 1863|
|Box 1, Folder 23||Louis to Mollie: Nov. 1863|
|Box 1, Folder 24||Louis to Mollie: Dec. 1863|
|Box 1, Folder 25||Louis to Mollie: Jan. –June 1864|
|Box 1, Folder 26||Louis to Mollie: Aug. 1864|
|Box 1, Folder 27||Louis to Mollie: Undated Fragments|
|Box 2, Folder 1||Mollie to Louis: Jan.-May 1861|
|Box 2, Folder 2||Mollie to Louis: June 1861|
|Box 2, Folder 3||Mollie to Louis: July 1861|
|Box 2, Folder 4||Mollie to Louis: Oct. 1861|
|Box 2, Folder 5||Mollie to Louis: Nov. 1861|
|Box 2, Folder 6||Mollie to Louis: Dec. 1861|
|Box 2, Folder 7||Mollie to Louis: Jan. 1862|
|Box 2, Folder 8||Mollie to Louis: Feb. 1862|
|Box 2, Folder 9||Mollie to Louis: Mar. 1862|
|Box 2, Folder 10||Mollie to Louis: Apr. 1862|
|Box 2, Folder 11||Mollie to Louis: June 1862|
|Box 2, Folder 12||Mollie to Louis: July 1862|
|Box 2, Folder 13||Mollie to Louis: Aug. 1862|
|Box 2, Folder 14||Mollie to Louis: Sept. 1862|
|Box 2, Folder 15||Mollie to Louis: Oct. 1862|
|Box 2, Folder 16||Mollie to Louis: Nov. 1862|
|Box 2, Folder 17||Mollie to Louis: Dec. 1862|
|Box 3, Folder 1||Mollie to Louis: Jan.-Apr. 1863|
|Box 3, Folder 2||Mollie to Louis: May-July 1863|
|Box 3, Folder 3||Mollie to Louis: Aug. 1863|
|Box 3, Folder 4||Mollie to Louis: Sept.-Nov. 1863|
|Box 3, Folder 5||Mollie to Louis: Dec. 1863|
|Box 3, Folder 6||Mollie to Louis: Jan.-Nov 1864|
|Box 3, Folder 7||Mollie to Louis: Undated Fragment|
|Box 3, Folder 8||Mollie Bell to Persis Bell: 1852-1854|
|Box 3, Folder 9||Mollie Bell to Persis Bell: 1856|
|Box 3, Folder 10||Mollie Bell to Persis Bell: 1857-1858|
|Box 3, Folder 11||Mollie Bell to Persis Bell: 1859-1860|
|Box 3, Folder 12||Mollie Bell to Persis Bell: Undated|
|Box 3, Folder 13||Mollie Bell to Lucy Bell: 1862-1863|
|Box 3, Folder 14||Mollie Bell to Lucy Bell: Undated or Fragments|
|Box 3, Folder 15||Mollie Bell to Augusta Spring Mixer: 1857-1864|
|Box 3, Folder 16||Augusta Spring Mixer to Mollie Bell: 1851-1853|
|Box 3, Folder 17||Miscellaneous to Mollie Bell: 1859-1865|
|Box 3, Folder 18||Mollie Bell to Miscellaneous: 1857-1862|
|Box 3, Folder 19||Mollie Bell to Miscellaneous: Fragments|
|Box 3, Folder 20||William Badger to Louis Bell: 1864|
|Box 3, Folder 21||Miscellaneous to Louis Bell: 1860-1861|
|Box 3, Folder 22||Miscellaneous to Louis Bell: 1862|
|Box 3, Folder 23||Miscellaneous to Louis Bell: 1863|
|Box 3, Folder 24||Miscellaneous to Louis Bell: 1864|
|Box 3, Folder 25||Miscellaneous to Louis Bell: Fragments or Undated|
|Box 3, Folder 26||Louis Bell to Miscellaneous: 1861-1863|
|Box 3, Folder 27||Louis’ Business Papers: 1852-1860|
|Box 3, Folder 28||Louis’ Business Papers: 1861-1864|
|Box 3, Folder 29||Miscellaneous: 1828-1900|
|Box 3, Folder 30||Miscellaneous: Fragments|
Series Two is organized into "General Correspondence", "St. Augustine", "Outfitting", and "General Orders." The First part of the series contains letters written between various officials pertaining to the struggles and circumstances of military life. See timeline above for specific battles and sieges. The second part contains letters and miscellaneous accounts of the happenings at St. Augustine. The 4th Regiment was stationed in the stronghold after its successful capture in order to keep the peace. Allegations of abuse of power, mistreatment of freedmen, and a disregard for his commanding general’s orders led to Bell’s arrest. Bell adamantly denied these allegations and requested to regain his station. The Court Martial never took place and the Army reinstated Bell to his command in September 1862.
The third part contains a large collection of receipts and invoices for the outfitting of the regiments before they went to war. There are also reports of requested items within this series. The fourth and final part consists of official pamphlets distributed among military officials describing the most recent orders of the General.
|Box 4, Folder 1||General Correspondence: Jan.-Sept. 1861|
|Box 4, Folder 2||General Correspondence: Oct. 1861|
|Box 4, Folder 3||General Correspondence: Nov. 16-24, 1861|
|Box 4, Folder 4||General Correspondence: Nov. 25-30, 1861|
|Box 4, Folder 5||General Correspondence: Dec. 1861|
|Box 4, Folder 6||General Correspondence: Jan. 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 7||General Correspondence: Feb. 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 8||General Correspondence: Mar. 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 9||General Correspondence: Apr. 1-14, 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 10||General Correspondence: Apr. 15-30. 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 11||General Correspondence: May 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 12||General Correspondence: June 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 13||General Correspondence: July-Aug. 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 14||General Correspondence: Sept. 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 15||General Correspondence: Oct. 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 16||General Correspondence: Nov. 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 17||General Correspondence: Dec. 1862|
|Box 4, Folder 18||General Correspondence: Jan. 1863|
|Box 4, Folder 19||General Correspondence: Feb.-Apr. 1863|
|Box 4, Folder 20||General Correspondence: May-July 1863|
|Box 4, Folder 21||General Correspondence: July-Aug. 1863|
|Box 4, Folder 22||General Correspondence: Sept.-Dec. 1863|
|Box 5, Folder 1||General Correspondence: Jan.-Mar. 1864|
|Box 5, Folder 2||General Correspondence: Apr.-May 1864|
|Box 5, Folder 3||General Correspondence: June 1-19, 1864|
|Box 5, Folder 4||General Correspondence: June 20-30, 1864|
|Box 5, Folder 5||General Correspondence: July 1-15, 1864|
|Box 5, Folder 6||General Correspondence: July 16-31, 1864|
|Box 5, Folder 7||General Correspondence: Aug.-Dec. 1864|
|Box 5, Folder 8||General Correspondence: 1865|
|Box 5, Folder 9||General Correspondence: Miscellaneous 1860-1864|
|Box 5, Folder 10||General Correspondence: Miscellaneous Undated|
|Box 5, Folder 11||General Correspondence: Miscellaneous Undated|
|Box 5, Folder 12||Confiscated Materials 1854-Sept.1861|
|Box 5, Folder 13||Confiscated Materials: Oct. 1-15 1861|
|Box 5, Folder 14||Confiscated Materials: Oct. 16, 1861-1862|
|Box 5, Folder 15||Confiscated Materials: Undated or Fragment|
|Box 5, Folder 16||Confiscated Materials: Publications|
|Box 5, Folder 17||St. Augustine: 1862|
|Box 5, Folder 18||Bell’s Arrest: 1862|
|Box 5, Folder 19||Outfitting Receipts: Aug.-Sept. 19, 1861|
|Box 5, Folder 20||Outfitting Receipts: Sept. 23-25, 1861|
|Box 5, Folder 21||Outfitting Receipts: Sept. 26-31, 1861|
|Box 5, Folder 22||Articles Needed by the 8th Regiment Maine Volunteers: 1861|
|Box 5, Folder 23||Articles Needed by the 46th Regiment New York State Volunteers: 1861|
|Box 5, Folder 24||Articles Needed by the 47th Regiment New York State Volunteers: 1861|
|Box 6, Folder 1||General Orders: 1861|
|Box 6, Folder 2||General Orders: 1862-1864|
|Box 6, Folder 3||Muster Records: May-Aug. 1861|
This series is made up of muster records, drill reports, and morning reports. The first part series contains a substantial amount of official Muster Records for the year of 1861. These records determined the payroll for soldiers serving in the regiments and were given to Louis Bell when he was acting as Inspector General. The second part is the collection of Drill Reports sent to Louis Bell during his time as Inspector General. These weekly reports recorded the success of drills that were run by each of the regiments Bell was overseeing. The third part contains the Morning Reports delivered to Louis Bell when he was serving as Inspector General. Morning Reports acted as a way to keep Bell informed on the daily happenings and issues occurring within the regiments he was commanding.
|Box 6, Folder 4||Muster Records: Sept. 1861|
|Box 6, Folder 5||Muster Records: Oct. 1861|
|Box 6, Folder 6||Muster Records: Undated|
|Box 6, Folder 7||Drill Reports: Week of Nov. 16-21, 1861|
|Box 6, Folder 8||Drill Reports: Week of Nov. 21-18, 1861|
|Box 6, Folder 9||Drill Reports: Week of Nov. 28-Dec. 5, 1861|
|Box 6, Folder 10||Drill Reports: Week of Dec. 4-11, 1861|
|Box 6, Folder 11||Drill Reports: Week Ending in Dec. 18, 1861|
|Box 6, Folder 12||Drill Reports: Week of Dec. 19-25, 1861|
|Box 6, Folder 13||Drill Reports: Week Ending in Jan. 1, 1862|
|Box 6, Folder 14||Drill Reports: Week Ending in Jan. 8, 1862|
|Box 6, Folder 15||Drill Reports: Week Ending in Jan. 15, 1862|
|Box 6, Folder 16||Drill Reports: Week Ending in Feb. 5, 1862|
|Box 7, Folder 1||Morning Reports: Feb.-Apr. 1862|
|Box 7, Folder 2||Morning Reports: May 1-19, 1862|
|Box 7, Folder 3||Morning Reports: May 20-30, 1862|
|Box 7, Folder 4||Morning Reports: June 1-9, 1862|
|Box 7, Folder 5||Morning Reports: June 10-30, 1862|
This series consists of multiple publications pertaining to the 4th Regiment or wartime experiences. Within the collection are town newspapers, regimental newspapers, and works written in memoriam among others.
|Box 7, Folder 6||“Savannah Daily News”: Jan. 15-Feb. 10, 1862|
|Box 7, Folder 7||“The New South” Port Royal S.C.: March 22-Sept. 1862|
|Box 7, Folder 8||“The Examiner” St. Augustine, Fl.: 1860-1862|
|Box 7, Folder 9||Publications: In Memoriam|
|Box 7, Folder 10||Publications: Miscellaneous|
This series contains a collection of unique items such as a photograph of Louis Bell, wartime drawings and poems, and miscellaneous envelopes from the era.
|Box 7, Folder 11||Drawings, Poems, etc.|
|Box 7, Folder 12||Envelopes|
|Box 7, Folder 13||Photo, etc.|
This series is a photocopied collection of Louis Bell’s complete service records from the National Archives.
|Box 7, Folder 14||Louis Bell’s Service Records: Photocopies|