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Lucius Bellinger Northrop Papers (MS058)

Identifier: MS058
The bulk of these papers are correspondence (letters) between Lucius Bellinger Northrop (Charleston, SC and Anne Arundel County, MD) and R. Jones, Adjutant General of the United States Army (Washington, DC). The correspondence refers to Northrop's inability to perform military duty due to his knee wound and to the desire of the Adjutant General's Office for Northrop to return to his post. Included are doctor's statements reporting on Northrop's physical condition, as well as the army's orders to release Northrop from the service in 1848. His attempts to obtain another government position and the reinstatement orders of Jefferson Davis are included in the collection, as well.

Correspondents include: General R. Jones, Dr. John Bellinger (Northrop's brother-in-law), Mrs. John Bellinger (Northrop's sister), Dr. Samuel Henry Dickson, T.H. Portner, Henry Dodge, D. Wharton, John Casey, M. Porter, W.J. Newton, Colonel L. Thomas, and General S. Cooper.

Recipients of letters include: Jefferson Davis, John C. Calhoun, and Major-General Winfield Scott.


  • 1841-1863



.23 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Biographical / Historical

Son of Amos Bird Northrop and Claudia Margaret Bellinger, Lucius Bellinger Northrop (1811-1894) was born in Charleston, South Carolina and graduated from West Point in 1831. About 1841 he married Maria Euphenia Joanna de Bernabeu, daughter of Juan Baptisto de Bernabeu, United States consul from Spain.

As a second lieutenant of the 1st Dragoons and a participant in the Seminole War, Northrop received a severe wound to his knee when his gun accidentally fired during an Indian investigation. While on sick furlough from the army, he studied medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1848, he was dropped from the army but eventually was reinstated and promoted to captain by Jefferson Davis, secretary of war and a fellow student at West Point.

Following the South's secession, Northrop quit his post and was appointed by Davis as commisary-general of the Confederate army. He was responsible for providing food for the Southern army and also, after 1862, for the Northern prisoners. Northrop was highly criticized by the anti-Davis faction within the Confederate Congress and was particularly disliked by Senator Foote of Tennessee, who made numerous attemps to remove Northrop from office. Although in 1865 he was acquitted by the Confederate Senate of all charges of inefficient and inadequate feeding of Southern troops and Federal prisoners, the Confederate House of Representatives passed a bill desiring his removal which forced Davis to take action.

After the war, Federal troops arrested and imprisoned Northrop, although no charges were brought against him. The only known photograph of Northrop was taken at this time. After his release, Northrop retired to a farm near Charlottesville, Virginia. He died in a soldiers' home in Pikesville, Maryland.


The letters are filed chronologically followed by notes relating to the letters and a biographical sketch of Lucius Bellinger Northrop in Civil War History.

Related Materials

Additional letters from 1885-1886 are located on microfilm in Lucius B. Northrop Manuscripts, the Century Collection of the New York Public Library, #00072
Lucius Bellinger Northrop Papers Finding Aid
Debra Waller
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Repository Details

Part of the Local History and Special Collections Branch, Alexandria Library Repository

717 Queen Street
Alexandria VA 22314 United States