1862: Newton Spaulding Manross to Charlotte (Royce) Manross

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Newton S. Manross (1825-1862)

These three letters were written by Newton Spaulding Manross (1825-1862), an 1850 graduate of Yale who afterwards studied chemistry in Göttingen and received his Doctorate degree from that university in 1852. He spent the next few years exploring mining regions of the globe and looking for investments. These letters were written while serving as a professor of Chemistry at Amherst College just prior to his raising a company of volunteers and entering the Civil War in its second year as the Captain of Co. K, 16th Connecticut Volunteers. He lost his life in the cornfield at Antietam on 17 September 1862.

Newton was the son of Elisha Manross (1792-1856) and Maria Cowles Norton (1799-1867). He was married in 1857 to Charlotte (“Lottie”) H. Royce (1836-1874) and had one child, Lottie (“Tot”) Marie Manross (1860-1936).


Amherst [Massachusetts]
March 5th 1862

My dear Lottie,

I reached here Monday afternoon about five minutes before 4 o’clock, the time for my recitation, but found that the class was to recite in mathematics—the tutor in that branch having returned and being anxious to make up lost time. I shall begin my lectures on Friday and give them at the rate of 3 a week. This term ends three weeks from next Monday or Tuesday, Just think of that. I shall be back again with you before you know it and I want you to recruit up most enough to enjoy the spring vacation with me.

I found a letter here from Major Clark ¹ written a few days after the Battle of Roanoke Island and giving me some account of the share he had in the great fight. He says he was under fire about two hours where the bullets whistled pretty thick around him but he never got a scratch. He also sent me a shin plaster—a twenty-five cent North Carolina bill with the date of the battle written on it. I reckon it is worth its face [value] at least. He thinks that Burnside is going to give the rebels some hard knocks before he gets through with them.

I want to hear from Angeline and yet am almost afraid to. Is she gaining yet? A few days more will probably decide the question of life or death with her. Let me hear as often as you can how she is.

I hope this letter will find you up and dressed and enjoying yourself better than when I left. Tease little pet a bit for me.

Your loving, — Mont

¹ Possibly Major William S. Clark of the 21st Massachusetts Infantry. This regiment was attached to Reno’s 2nd Brigade in Burnside’s Expeditionary Force. Following the Battle of Roanoke Island on 8 February 1862, Major Clark was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.


Amherst [Massachusetts]
May 13th 1862

My dear Lottie,

I have just come in from a concert of the Peak Family given in the Baptist Church a few rods from the hotel. The performance was mostly instrumental on the violin, harp, melodian, and particularly on a whole table full of bells—big and little—which were caught up and rung in time and tune by four different performers. Two of the children did work of the singing and did it well.

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A typical newspaper notice from the early 1860s

I give another lecture tomorrow—the last but two. Almost through work, you see.

The cherry trees are in blossom here now and everything promises an abundant fruit crop this year. Perhaps the sulphate trade will make me a good fall job.

I have received my note to Doolittle from the Bank, the draft I sent having reached there safely. [  ] Jerry also acknowledges the receipt of his money. You can pay over the 8 or 9 dollars to Mother Manross which will probably answer her purpose till I come.

I expect to see little tot looking as tough and rugged as a little hottentot. It must do her as well as her mommy good to be out in the air so much. Does she go alone yet?

What good news we have from the war? I think Billy’s prediction that the war will be finished by the fourth of July will come out true. Won’t it be jolly when he and all the rest of the sogers come home and times are good and lively again. I shouldn’t wonder if by fall every factory was in operation again and everybody busy as bees.

Good night, — Mont


Amherst [Massachusetts]
May 16th 1862

My dear Lottie,

Whew! the summer has broke out all at once and the weather is hotter than blazes. The trees are jumping into their summer dresses as if there was an alarm of fire which there will be if it grows much hotter. Well let it come. I have got through all but one of my lectures and the brick walls of the Laboratory will not get heated through before Monday so the hot weather won’t make me wilt, I reckon. It seems clever to be so near vacation but if you was here with me, I should not be in a hurry to get away. This country is splendid now and I would like to spend a week riding round but I shan’t, that so!

Ossian E. Dodge performs here next Friday night. If I stay till Saturday, I shall have a chance to hear him. Who knows?

I have just received a letter from Mrs. Reed saying that she received the draft and got the money on it all right. It only cost 16 cents to send it that way. She sent me the note and mortgage too so that is square. One of the pleasantest operations I know of is paying debts. It is almost worthwhile to get in debt, it feels so good to get out again—just as some like to have the measles for the sake of scratching.

I send you the likeness of a lady friend of mine who wishes mine in exchange—in fact, requests of that sort are somewhat numerous so that I have ordered two dozen instead of one and think I shall not have too many of that.

This is a photograph not yet developed of the view from my window towards the northwest—Mount Toby and Sugar Loaf in the distance. I shan’t say it is any better than the original but I can’t [   ] if over you.

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Sketch by Newton Manross of Mount Toby & Sugarloaf from his window in Amherst, Massachusetts (May 1862)

Warren will have to wait, I reckon, till I come for the answer to his letter. I am so full of work that I shall have little time to write letters till I get through my lectures and examination at least.  You may look for one or two more letters from me though—say Monday night and Wednesday night.

One week more, Lottie, and “I’m with you once again.”

Your loving, — Mont

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Newton S. Manross as Captain of Co. K, 16th Connecticut Volunteers

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