Colonel 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. Louis Bell was the
youngest of nine children, eight sons and one daughter. He attended Derry and Gilford Academies
and at eighteen graduated from Brown University.

He read law with Judge Cushing of Charlestown, N. II., and Judge Cross of Manchester, N. IL, and
was admitted to the bar when but twenty- one years of age, and commenced practice in Farmington,
X. II. , in 1859. He was appointed justice of the police court and soon after solicitor of Stratford
county.In 1857, after he was admitted to the Bar, Bell opened a law office in Farmington, New

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.

1st New Hampshire
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Louis Bell enlisted and was appointed Captain of Company A, First
New Hampshire Regiment of Infantry. The regiment was disbanded after six months. The First
Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers did no fighting, excepting the exchange of shots at intervals for
two days across the river at Conrad’s Ferry. None of the New Hampshire men were hit. The
Confederates lost one captain and two privates killed and about twelve wounded. The regiment,
however, did a large amount of guard duty.

Bell, Louis. Co. A; b. Chester; age 24; res. Farmington; enl. as Priv. Apr. 29, ’61; app. Capt. Apr. 30,
’61; must. in May 1, ’61, as Capt.; must. out Aug. 9, ’61.

Remarkable Escape from Drowning (New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette October 9, 1861)
Louis Bell, Lieut-Colonel of the Fourth Regiment, remained behind to settle up some business,
intending to leave for Washington this afternoon. He went Friday afternoon to Chester, to spend the
Sabbath with his friends, and Saturday, having a little leisure, took his wife and her three sisters,
Mrs. Jacob g. Cillery of this city, Mrs. John w. Noyes of Chester and Miss Sally Bouton of Concord,
and came over to Massabesic Pond for a sail. He got a good boat at the Island Pond House, and
started out with Mrs. Cilley and Miss Bouton, the other two sisters preferring to remain on shore to
prepare some refreshments for their return. The wind blew briskly, and after they got a mile from the
house, and a half a mile or more from either shore, a flaw of wind capsized the boat instantly and
threw them all into the pond. Fortunately col. Bell is an excellent swimmer and had great presence of
mind. Miss Bouton sank and Col. Bell dove and brought her up, and with much difficulty succeeded
in getting her on the boat. He then got Mrs. Cilley who had sank several times and placed her in the
same position. The boat was keeled over and the difficulty was to right it, and get them in and get
the water out. The sail in the water was the great trouble. He got out a knife and succeeded in
hacking it off, and in righting the boat, though it was nearly full of water. He then swam and pushed
the boat ahead of him to the shore, the ladies sitting and shivering in a boat filled with water all the
way. They landed on Johnson’s Beach, and got another boat and were rowed to the Island Pond
House, where every attention was shown, dry clothes furnished and they were soon made
comfortable and happy at their escape. They cannot bestow too much praise upon what was done
for them there. The heroic conduct of Col. Bell shows him worthy of his position in the fourth
regiment. It seems almost a miracle that he could do so much in the water. He had on his military
suit, and succeeded in cutting his coat off so that his arms could have full play, and in kicking off a
boot on which was a spur. — Manchester Mirror, 1st inst.

4th New Hampshire
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.


St. Augustine
In April, Col. Bell’s regiment occupied the 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. Col Bell was relieved from his command for an alleged violation of one of
the government’s numerous orders with reference to slavery. He was placed under arrest on the
charge of returning a female slave to her master. The facts of the case were that in June the
Surgeon told him that St. Augustine was “infested” with prostitutes. He directed the provost marshal
to investigate this claim and put such characters outside the picket line. He didn’t care if the women
were black or white or slave or free. Two of the women removed were white. Those that were black
he brought back after a day or two and locked up. He was charged with returning a slave to her
master. He was directed to report to Hilton Head under arrest. (Hunter’s Order 27). He would
proclaim himself an abolitionist in his defense to the people of New Hampshire.

General Brannan succeeded General Hunter, and immediately restored Col. Bell to his command.

“I saw Col. Bell this morning he stopping at the Genl Hospital with his brother who is quite ill. He was
poisoned some time since while amputating he cut his finger and got some of the blood into the cut
and since that his arm has swollen a good deal. I was quite surprised to hear that the Col was under
arrest. When you write pleas let me know what for.” (Leander Harris)

Return to Regiment after Dismissal of Charges (The New South, September 13, 1862)
Troops from St. Augustine.—The 4th Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteers, which has been
stationed at St. Augustine, Fla., for the past five months, arrived here on Thursday, in the steamer
Ben Deford, on its way to Beaufort, having been relieved at its former post of duty by the 7th New
Hampshire. Col. Bell, of the 4th, has recently been restored to his command, after a few weeks
suspension on a charge which was not brought to trial, and when he rejoined the regiment at the
dock he was greeted with round upon round of enthusiastic cheers.

Battle of Pocoligo, South Carolina Oct. 22, 1862
They fought the battle of Pocoligo. South Carolina, Oct. 22, ’62. an unsuccessful attempt to gain a
foothold on the mainland. Col Bell was wounded in this action.


Fort Wagner
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..
Christmas comes and the 4th Regiment was encouraged to reenlist for three years more, but few
respond. They returned to Beaufort, South Carolina. Col. Bell appeals to the men to enlist for the
war and as a result before February close to 400 enlisted for three years more. A short trip to
Jacksonville, Fla., and the reenlisted veterans return to New Hampshire, after an absence of 2
years, for a thirty days furlough.

The Battle of the Wilderness
At its close 4th is sent to Washington, they rendezvous at (Gloucester Point, Va)., and the Virginia
campaign of 1864 commenced. At Drury’s Blud”, near Fort Darling, May 10, they attempted to resist
the assault made on their lines, and after terrible loss, they retreated. The regiment sustains the
greatest loss during their service, some companies losing more than half their men. Afterwards the
regiment was small comrades were scattered, many never to return. The severely wounded in
hospitals, and many prisoners of war, met their death as a result of May 16. With thinned ranks,
after this severe loss, the regiment crosses the James and on to Cold Harbor and the defenses of
Petersburg, the battle of the Mine July 30, and Deep Bottom August 16, and but a remnant of the old
Fourth regiment is left. September 18 the three years men’s time expired, and they prepare to go
home. The battles, skirmishes, and siege of Petersburg had so reduced the regiment that at the
charge on Fort Gillmore (New Market Heights) September 29, but forty men were fit for duty.

Siege of Petersburg
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 .

Reports of Colonel Louis Bell, Fourth New Hampshire Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of
operations June 30 and July 30.

July 1, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my brigade in the
action of the 30th ultimo:

In obedience to orders, I had 350 men, under command of Captain Mendenhall, Ninety-seventh
Pennsylvania Volunteers, under the brow of the hill, behind where the rifle-pits are dug in the skirt of
the woods, at 5 p.m., and the One hundred and sixty-ninth New York Volunteers in command of
Major Colvin, in rear of the first party as support. Shortly after, in obedience to an order from the
general commanding, I moved Captain Mendenhall’s command into the edge of the woods and
opened fire on the parapet of the enemy’s work to our right, to cover Colonel Barton’s proposed
movement. The left of Captain Mendenhall’s command was exposed to a heavy fire from their left,
and was compelled to move by the right flank under the brow of the hill and then went into the
woods. The whole of Captain Mendenhall’s line was then formed within the woods on the crest of the
hill. Within a few minutes a regiment of the enemy came out on our left over the works and seemed
about to charge the left flank of Captain Mendenhall’s line. I ordered the One hundred and
sixty-ninth New York Volunteers to move to a position previously designated, forming a line nearly at
right angles with Captain Mendenhall’s line. The right of the One hundred and sixty-ninth New York
Volunteers advanced, and being met with a heavy fire, fell back a few feet to the crest of the hill,
from which they opened fire on the enemy’s regiment, so compelling it to move into the woods
toward our right, where they disappeared in rifle-pits. Before this time a force estimated at two
regiments was seen by Captain Mendenhall and other officers, to move to our right and go into the
works in Colonels Barton’s and Curtis’ front. I was unable to gain any ground, and a short time
before dark, in obedience to orders, I withdrew my men, leaving only the regular picket party in the
rifle-pits. Out of about 750 men engaged 150 were killed and wounded. It gives me great pleasure to
bear witness to the gallantry of the officers in command of the parties, and especially to mention
Captain Mendenhall, Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Lieutenant Zent, Thirteenth
Indiana Volunteers.

I have the honor to be, captain, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Captain I. R. SEALY,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

State of New Hampshire tries to collect a bill (New Hampshire Patriot and Gazette July 6 20,
Delinquent Officers
The special committee to enquire whether or not any money has been paid from the State treasury
to any commissioned officers to purchase horses or uniforms, for such officers, reported–

That at the organization of the 4th N. H. Reg’t Vols, Col. Louis Bell, Lt. Col. J. D. Drew, and Chaplain
Martin W. Willis each obtained a horse from the State. The above named persons have never paid
the State for the same, and they are charged on the State books in the State Treasurer’s office the
sum of $125, each for said horses. In all other cases where the State furnished horses to the three
year regiments, said officers have invariably paid for them. Col. Bell has been requested, both by
letter and verbally by the State authorities, to pay for the horse taken by him, but thus far he has
treated the matter with the utmost indifferences.

It further appears that the State furnished swords and equipments to some of the officers of said
regiment, in the amount of $700.61, and that most of that money has been paid over by said officers
to Col. Bell. In all other cases the officers have furnished their own unfit. Col. Bell gave Ex-Gov.
Berry a private obligation for the payment of the above bill. He has been repeatedly requested by
the State authorities to pay this bill, but has given no attention to the same.

There is no probability that the above sum will be refunded to the State by the General Government,
and your committee can find no law or provision authorizing the money of the state to be paid for
such purposes.

We therefore find that there is due the State from Col. Louis Bell $825.61, and interest from date of
bill, from Lt. Col. J. D. Drew $125 and from Martin W. Willis $125, in all $1075.61, and interest, and
report the following:

Resolved, That the State Treasurer request Col. Louis Bell, Lt. Col. J. D. Drew, and Martin W. Willis
to immediately pay into the State Treasury the above sums of $825.61 and interest, $125 and
interest, and $125 and interest, found due from them to the State, and if on a failure to comply with
said request within reasonable time, that the Governor and Council be hereby instructed to institute
such proceedings against them as in their opinion will most quickly insure a speedy payment.

Siege of Petersburg (Part 2)
August 3, 1864.

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the brigade under my
command in the action of July 30 before Petersburg:

The brigade moved from the line of works at 11 p.m. July 29, and marched through the line of works
occupied by the Ninth Corps. At 2.30 the brigade was formed in column of regiments, deployed en
masse in an angle formed by the trenches. After the mine was sprung in obedience to orders, I
moved the brigade to the line of works next the works of the enemy, and very soon after again
formed column of regiments, deployed. I received an order to move forward to the line we had taken
from the enemy, gaining as much ground to the right as practicable. On arriving at the works I put
the brigade in line as well as I could do it under the severe fire, holding one regiment in reserve.
After remaining at this place for some time I sent a staff officer for instructions, and received orders
to gain as much ground to the right as I could, and to assault the battery on my right when the Ninth
Corps advanced. I directed the regiment held in reserve to form on the right. On this regiment
moving they were met by a severe fire. At this moment all the colored troops in my front broke and
came back, dashing through my men with arms at a trail and bayonets fixed. The officers and men of
my command tried to resist the dash of those retreating but to no avail. Quite a number of my men
were wounded by the bayonets of the retreating troops, and the brigade was disorganized by the
large number of fugitives passing through it. After vainly attempting to reform the brigade under a
severe enfilading fire from both the right and left, the enemy being near us in front also, I fell back
from this line to the one I had previously occupied, and after holding this line some three hours was
relieved by other troops and marched to the rear. Had my command not been run over and
confused by the mob of panic-stricken negroes I could have held the position I occupied against any
force then visible, though I should have met with a severe loss in doing so, owing to the sharp fire,
almost enfilading my line from both right and left.

The conduct of the regimental officers is deserving of the highest praise.m

I have the honor to be, captain, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Captain I. R. SEALY.
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Reports of Colonel Louis Bell, Fourth New Hampshire Infantry, commanding Third Brigade, of
operations September 28-October 1 and October 27-28.1

Before Richmond, Va., October 3, 1864.

CAPTAIN: In accordance with circular dated headquarters Second Division, Tenth Army Corps,
before Richmond, Va., October 3, 1864, I have the honor to report the operations of this command
from the 28th day of September to October 1, 1864.

The Third Brigade, Second Division, Tenth Army Corps, left position near Petersburg September 28,
at 3 p.m., and reached Deep Bottom at 3 a.m. September 29. At 5 a.m. same day followed Second
Brigade on the New Market road. At about 9 a.m. formed brigade line of battle and followed Second
Brigade in an assault on a section of the enemy’s artillery and the supporting troops. This force
having been scattered, I moved to the left and formed line at right angles to the line of our previous
advance. At 3 p.m. received an order to assault a work in our front, moving on the left of First
Brigade. The distance to the fort was over half a mile, across three ravines, filled with fallen trees.
Along the whole distance two works of the enemy on our right enfiladed our line with artillery. When
we had nearly reached the fort we received so severe and continuous a fire of musketry and
canister shot that we were driven back about 200 yards. A colored regiment joining us, I advanced
my force again and was again repulsed. I moved back to my position before the assault, sending out
skirmishers to cover the parties bringing off the wounded. Casualties, 11 officers and 132 enlisted
men. At dark I moved back to the right of the position the brigade now occupies. September 30, I
moved to my present position. Since then have been employed in strengthening the works along my
front. During the day I advanced my picket-line. Casualties, 4.

I have the honor to be, captain, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Brigade.
Captain B. B. KEELER,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. General, Second Division, Tenth Army Corps.

Near Richmond, October 29, 1864.
CAPTAIN: In compliance with order from division headquarters, I have the honor to submit the
following report of the part taken by my command in the operations of October 27 and 28:
My command moved at 5 a.m. October 27, following the Second Brigade, and first formed line of
battle, the right resting on the Darbytown road. After moving twice to avoid the artillery fire of the
enemy, I sent all my command, except the Ninth Maine Volunteers, out as skirmishers, keeping up a
heavy fire on the enemy, who was in gopher holes some 400 yards in front of his main works. At 4
p.m. I received orders to advance my skirmish line and drive the enemy from the gopher holes, and
in case I did not develop a heavy fire from the enemy’s main works I should attack the main line. I
formed the Ninth Maine Volunteers, supported by four companies of the Two hundred and third
Pennsylvania Volunteers, to assault the main works, and ordered the left of the skirmish line
(composed of the Seventy-sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers and a part of the Ninety-seventh
Pennsylvania Volunteers) forward three different times before they moved. I then ordered the right
of the skirmish line forward and carried the line of gopher holes, meeting little resistance from the
enemy, and developing but a small fire from the main line. The assaulting party moved forward till it
reached the best of woods in front of the enemy’s line where it was met by a fire from four pieces of
artillery and a sharp musketry fire, which increased in severity as we approached the works. Keeping
on we carried a second line of gopher holes, but were here met by a fire of such severity as to break
the assaulting force, which fell back in confusion. We rallied the men after falling back to the first line
of gopher holes taken form the enemy, and there, in obedience to orders, after bringing off the dead
and wounded, moved back the line of works near corps headquarters, where we remained through
the night, our picket occupying the captured gopher holes. It is proper to state that the assaulting
force was composed of men who had never been under fire before, with the exception of a very few
of the Ninth Maine Volunteers.

On the 28th my command remained where it passed the night. When the corps moved back to our
lines my command acted as rear guard.

Total number of casualties killed and wounded: Killed, 8; wounded, 58.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers, Commanding Brigade.
Captain T. E. LORD,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Fort Fisher
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.

The Third Brigade of the 13th Indiana, 4th New Hampshire, and the 115th and 169th New York
infantry regiments entered the fort by the Wilmington Road. 15 minutes after Pennypacker’s brigade
went forward General Terry sent in Col Louis Bell’s brigade at General Ames’ request. Bell never
reached the fort. At 5 o’clock he was cut down by an unknown Confederate rifleman crossing the
bridge at Shepherd’s Battery. The ball entered his shoulder and traveled through his body. He was
told that his wound was mortal but he refused to be carried from the battlefield until he saw the flag
of the 4th New Hampshire planted atop the fort. Colonel Louis Bell died the next day from his wounds
repeating his wife’s name until he expired. Bell’s body was brought home to Chester and was buried
on a cold winter day next to his father Samuel. Bell’s six-week old son Louis was baptized next to his
father’s coffin before it was lowered into the ground. He left behind his wife, a four year old daughter
and a six-week old son. Bell’s wife Mollie remained prostrate with grief for months and died just
months after her husband’s body was brought home.

After the capture of Fort Fisher what was left of the fourth New Hampshire regiment slept over the
magazine, which suddenly exploded, adding frightful causalities.

Officer’s Resolution
Fort Fisher, February 12, 1865
At a meeting held by the officers of the Fourth New Hampshire Infantry this day (Feb. 12th, 1865,
Fort fisher, N. C.), the following Preamble and Resolutions were unanimously adopted:

Whereas, Our noble leader, Col. Louis Bell, Fourth New Hampshire Infantry, commanding Third
Brigade, Second Division, Tenth Army Corps, has fallen in battle, thereby bringing proud grief to
many hearts; therefore

Resolved, That we the officers of his Regiment avail ourselves of the sad privilege of expressing our
love for him as a soldier, and respect for him as a commander,

Resolved, that the loss of Col. Bell we are deprived of a brave leader, a noble man, and a beloved
comrade. He fell, at the very dawn of peace, leading his Brigade in a terrible charge, which resulted
in a glorious victory, a martyr to the holy cause of Liberty and Union.

Resolved, That his memory shall live with us so long as our lives shall last, inspiring us to noble
thoughts and heroic acts; and when time with us shall fade away, may we meet him above.

Resolved, that we respectfully tender to his friends, and especially his mourning widow and orphans,
our unfeigned sympathy in this their irreparable loss May God sustain them through this agonizing

Resolved, That a copy of these Resolutions be forwarded to his widow, and to his biographer for

F. W. Parker,
Lt.-Col. Fourth N. H. Vols,
Comd’g Regt., President

“I trust God may see fit to direct that I may return in safety to my home once more but if not I shall
feel that I shall have died in the best cause the world has ever known and it will be no disgrace to my
precious wife and child to have it said that the husband and father died fighting for his country.” Col
Louis Bell to sister-in-law (October 23, 1861)

General Bell
No record has been found of Secretary of War Stanton posthumously awarded Bell the rank of
Brigadier General. Mollie Bell died a few months after her husband. However it was reported in the
New York Herald January 22, 1865: “Secretary Stanton last night made the following promotions, to
date from the 15th inst: ……. Colonel Louis Bell (dead), to be brevet brigadier general.” This was
also published in the Philadelphia Inquirer January 24, 1865. On January 25, 1865 The New York
Herald published that “The remains of one of the heroic dead of Fort Fisher also reached here last
evening–General Louis Bell–who was killed in the assault of Sunday, the 15th. The remains are in
charge of Lieutenant Sanford, of the lamented deceased’s staff. The body of General Bell is to be
conveyed to New Hampshire.”



Obituary, (The New York Herald, January 26, 1865)

The remains of general Louis Bell, commanding a brigade in Brevet Major General A. Ames’ division,
Major General Terry’s army, at the assault on Fort Fisher, Sunday, the 15th of January, 1865,
passed through this city yesterday afternoon, on their way to New Hampshire for final and
appreciative interment. General Bell, who was a native of Chester, New Hampshire, entered the
service as captain of a company in the First Granite State Volunteers, serving for three months. He
returned home, and on the organization of the Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers (a truly
wide-breasted and strong hearted regiment), General Bell was made lieutenant colonel, only
acceding to the colonelcy upon the resignation of Colonel Whipple, in March 1862.

Holding this rank, he commanded the post of St. Augustine in 1862, and was temporarily in command of a division of one of General Butler’s corps of the Army of the James, in one of the Deep Bottom fights of the past summer when our forces occupied the north bank of that introductory water course to Richmond. The wound causing General Bell’s death was the sixth one received by him since his entrance upon the service.

The deceased general was a son of the late Governor Samuel Bell, of New Hampshire, and a nephew of the late Governor and Senator of the United States, John Bell, of same State. He was also a brother of Chief Justice Bell, of the same State, as well as Hon. James Bell, late United States Senator from New Hampshire. General Bell graduated at Brown University, Rhode Island, in the class of 1853, and was distinguished on commencement day, as afterwards, for his talents in chemistry, both natural and applied, as well as for the natural sciences generally. He was also well read in the science and instruction of the law, and at one time, just previous to the commencement of the war, held the position of solicitor for Stafford county in his native State–an eminent position.

In the law for one so young in years though it was thoroughly (?) by his commanding talent. After
entering the army General Bell was for some time inspector general of the Department of the South,
under general T. W. Sherman; and (?) to his promotion to be brigadier general he had been
confidently entrusted with the command of his brigade, by each regiment and person of whom he
was fondly remembered. As inspector general he was particularly efficient, demonstrating himself to
be the bes swordsman and shot of the armies. General Bell held General Sherman in the highest
esteem and always spoke of the superior officer in the choicest terms of respect and love. He served
under General Sherman at Pacotaligo, South Carolina, and in front of Forts Wagner and Greg,
Charleston harbor, under General Gillmore.

The deceased General leaves two brothers Chief Justice Bell, of Manchester, N H and Dr. John Bell,
Surgeon of the United States Army. General Bell was also a brother to the late Dr. Luther V. Bell, of
the McLean Asylum, and a son-in-law of Rev. Dr. Nathanel Bouton of Concord, N. H. and leaves a
wife and two little children.

General Bell was remarkable for great sincerity of character and earnestness in military duty. He was
broadly educated, and hence was fully alive to the impressive exigencies of the service, and to all of
the demands in the line of public duty growing out of austere necessities in the field. He fell in a
successful assault upon earthworks, which it is keenly apprehended will not have its parallel in this
age, as it has been without equal in the past history of military prowess.

Death Notice for Mrs. Mary Anna Bell (The Farmers’ Cabinet May 11, 1865)
Mrs. Mary Anna Bell, wife of the late Col. Louis Bell, who was killed in the assault on Fort Fisher,
died suddenly of heart disease, on Thursday, at Chester. She was preparing to go out to place
flowers on her husband’s grave. Mrs. Bell was a daughter of Rev. Dr. Bouton, of Concord.

written by drbronsontours