28 items (0.25 linear feet)
The Love papers contain 27 letters and one journal relating to John Love or his wife, Mary, all written between 1840 and 1853. This very incomplete collection contains information on two areas of interest, the study of the military presence in the west during the 1840s and of courtship, marriage, and male-female relationships.
One of the highlights of the collection is Love's journal of an 1843 expedition of the 1st Dragoons from Fort Leavenworth along the Santa Fe Trail. Written as a running, daily narrative of events, the journal provides excellent insight into the mentality of a well-educated eastern soldier along the frontier of the 1840s, and how his preconceptions for what he would see on the prairies of Kansas were met with "reality." On this trip, his first in the west, Love describes encounters with crowds of emigrants bound for Oregon, with traders, wild animals, and mountain men, and he paid close attention to the landscape throughout. Always in the back of his mind were Indians. The journal ends with a description of the long-awaited sighting of a herd of buffalo, only to find that the herd was being hunted by Indians. Love was cautious, fearing that he had run into a band of Comanches, but discovered they were Kansas and not hostile. It appears that the journal is incomplete and either because Love was unable to continue writing it, or because the remainder has been lost. It ceases while the Dragoons are still in central Kansas, moving southward to Santa Fe.
Among the correspondence is a letter from fellow West Pointer, Edgar Gaither (1840 May 6), that includes a fine account of the hardships of an expedition to the newly established Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, "the object of which was to produce that peace so much need as apparently so little desired by the nation." Gaither surprised himself by the degree of "culture" among the Cherokee: "There is a great deal of polished society in the Cherokee natives as different from all conception I had ever formed of the Indian character as black from white, and the baleful spirit of party intrigue & unfriend brings I hope will by soon banished from the nation."
Two letters from fellow West Pointer William T.H. Brooks, a Lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Infantry and future Maj.Gen. in the Civil War, include information on military activities in southern Texas during the Mexican War. In the first of these (1845 September 12-15), Brooks describes the aftermath of a steamboat boiler explosion caused by the negligence of captain and crew, in which several soldiers were killed, including West Point friends of Brooks and Love. Although Brooks had said that southern Texas had nothing to recommend it but the climate, and although he complained about the unlikelihood of seeing Mexican soldiers, his second letter (1846 May 15) includes a stirring first-hand account of the Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma.
Finally, one letter from Mary Love to her mother, Mary Smith (1850 August 21) includes an interesting account of the arrival of Chippewa and Sioux Indians for a conference at Fort Snelling. Love was fascinated with the psychological gamesmanship of both tribes, for instance the boisterous arrival of the Chippewa with guns blazing in the air to frighten the Sioux and their rowdy talk upon dismounting.
The letters on courtship, love and marriage were written by several friends of Mary Love during the early stages of her relationship with John. Mary appears to have been considered quite a belle, and was courted seriously by both John and a rival, Joe, as well as by a young Lew Wallace (later Major General and author of Ben Hur). All of these letters suggest the intensity of interest surrounding courtship, but also helps to flesh out ideas of propriety and impropriety in courtship. Most interesting of all, however, are the two letters of Mary Linton, who represents a less-well known side of male-female relationships during this period, female refusal. Linton claims that she cannot feel love: "were you in my place you would go right to work to winning his affections instead of concealing those points of character which would make a gentleman apt to fall in love with a fairy. But I am a strange creature Mary, I am not at all susceptible" (1849 c. August 29). She continued, "As yet I cannot discover the faintest trace of love, & more, I am proof to the shafts of Cupid. My heart has become solid & insensible" (1849 September 24). Yet at the same time, Mary writes on and on through closely-written, cross-hatched pages about love, a failed engagement, and marriage.