New Ballad of Lord Lovell, The (Mansfield Lovell)
DESCRIPTION: "Lord Lovell he sat in St. Charles Hotel... A-cutting as big a rebel swell... As you'd ever wish to see." His thirty thousand soldiers dwindle away to a bare handful, and "gallant old Ben sailed in with his men And captured their great citee..."
EARLIEST DATE: 1925 (Cox); before 1880 (broadside mentioned on p. 89 of Edwin Wolf 2nd, _American Song Sheets, Slip Ballads, and Political Broadsides 1850-1870_, Library Company of Philadelphia, 1963)
KEYWORDS: Civilwar parody humorous soldier
FOUND IN: US(Ap,So)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Belden, pp. 52-54, "Lord Lovel" (3 texts, of which the Ga text is this piece)
JHCoxIIA, #8A-C, pp. 32-37, "Lord Lovell," "Lord Lovell" (3 texts, 1 tune, but the "C" fragment is this piece)
Huntington-Gam, pp. 236-237, "Lord Lovel" (1 text, 2 tunes)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1308, p. 89, "Lord Lovell, No. 2" (1 reference)
Darling-NAS, p. 48, "The New Ballad of Lord Lovell" (1 text)
Roud #7942; also 48
cf. "Lord Lovel [Child 75]" and references there
cf. "The Capture of New Orleans" (subject of the capture of New Orleans)
NOTES [435 words]: Although the song provides few precise details, it clearly refers to the Federal capture of New Orleans in 1862. The Confederate commander was Mansfield Lovell (1822-1884). According to Foote, p. 360, Lovell was a "Maryland-born West Pointer who had resigned as New York Deputy Street Commissioner to join the Confederacy in September. Impressed with the Chapultepec-brevetted artilleryman's record as an administrator, [Jefferson] Davis made him a major general and sent him to... New Orleans."
By the time New Orleans was attacked by Farragut's naval forces, the regular garrison of the city had been stripped to reinforce Albert Sydney Johnston; most of them would fight at Shiloh (McPherson, p. 418). According to Carter, pp. 8-9, "On taking over in October 1861, Lovell found the city had been 'greatly drained of arms, ammunition, clothing, and supplies,' which had been sent to other war zones. His land forces, moreover, consisted of only 3,000 short-term volunteers, a 'heterogeneous militia, armed mostly with shotguns.'"
Naturally, these forces had little mobility or ability to fight in the field. The real defenses of New Orleans consisted of river forts and a few small ships. Yet, in 1861, Lovell found "Naval preparations were in equally poor shape" (Carter, p. 9). The Confederate attempts to build better, ironclad, ships faltered under their limited industrial capacity; the ships just weren't ready in time (McPherson, p. 419). The Federals failed to destroy the river forts with mortars, but Admiral Farragut was able to run his ships past them and deal with the small Confederate fleet (Foote, pp. 364-369), and that left New Orleans undefended under his guns. Rather than risk the destruction of the city, Lovell retreated with such mobile forces as he had. The garrisons of the river forts then collapsed (Foote, p. 370), and Federal troops were able to come up-river and occupy New Orleans even though the city didn't exactly surrender.
After New Orleans, Lovell briefly held corps command in the west, and demonstrated real skill as a commander. But he was relieved soon after due to political pressure.
"Gallant old Ben" is Benjamin F. Butler, the most-hated man in the Confederacy and possibly the worst general ever to serve under the American flag. "Sluggish and inept as an army commander, Butler owed his preferment to some administrative skill and politics; he was one of the most hated men in the Confederacy" (Dupuy/Johnson/Bongard, p. 116). Butler occupied New Orleans (and subjected it to something close to a reign of terror), but the military skill was all Farragut's. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
- Carter: Samuel Carter III, The Final Fortress: The Campaign for Vicksburg 1862-1863, St. Martin's, 198
- Dupuy/Johnson/Bongard: Trevor N. Dupuy, Curt Johnson, and David L. Bongard, The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography, 1992 (I use the 1995 Castle edition)
- Foote: Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative (Volume I: Fort Sumter to Perryville) (Random House, 1958)
- McPherson: James M. McPherson, The Battle Cry of Freedom (The Oxford History of the United States: The Civil War Era), Oxford, 1988
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