Don George Lovell was born on September 13, 1841, in Ionia County, Michigan, the son of Vermonter George Grout Lovell (1814-1901) and possibly Susan (1822-1854).
In 1850 Don (listed as George D.) was living with his parents and siblings in Spring Lake, Ottawa County. That same year there was a 50-year-old Vermont native named Mary Lovell living with and working as a servant for W. D. Foster in Grand Rapids, Kent County. (Foster was married to Fanny Lovell who was probably the sister of Don’s father, George G.) By 1860 Don was a tinner’s (or tinsmith) apprentice working for and/or living with his uncle (?) W. D. Foster, a hardware merchant in Grand Rapids’ 1st Ward. By 1860 his father George was working as a lumberman and living in Spring Lake with three of Don’s siblings: Ellen (b. 1840), Charles P. (1849-1873), and Lewis (b. 1852). By 1864 George G. was serving as Ottawa County treasurer and living in Grand Haven.
Shortly after the battle of first Bull Run, Virginia, on Sunday, July 21, 1861, Don was reported “a little sick” by William Drake, also of Company A. Lovell was a Sergeant and wounded in the hip at Fair Oaks, Virginia, on May 31, 1862; he was soon reported to be getting around on crutches. He was sick in the hospital in July of 1862, reportedly in Washington, but soon returned to the Regiment and was wounded in the groin and right knee on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run.
Sometime between September 1 and October 7, Don returned to Grand Rapids where he was promoted and transferred to the Sixth Michigan cavalry on October 7, 1862. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant, commissioned on October 13, 1862, at the organization of that unit, and transferred to Company F, Sixth Michigan cavalry, and was mustered the same day at Grand Rapids, crediting and giving his place of residence as Grand Rapids where the regiment was being organized. He was commissioned a First Lieutenant on May 9, 1863, replacing Lieutenant Batchelder. The Sixth remained on duty at Grand Rapids until December 10 when it left for Washington where it participated in the defenses of the capital until June of 1863. The Sixth occupied Gettysburg, Pennsylvania briefly on June 28 and while it was engaged at Hanover, Pennsylvania on June 30 and participated in the Battle of Gettysburg from July 1-3 as well as in the pursuit of Lee’s forces back into Virginia.
He was serving with the regiment when it participated in the Battle of Brandy Station, Virginia, on June 9, 1863. (This action is considered to have been the largest cavalry engagement during the entire war.) According to J. H. Kidd, also of the Sixth Michigan cavalry, Lovell was in fact “the senior officer present with the regiment” and greatly distinguished himself in the difficult duty of guarding the rear, meeting emergencies as they arose with the characteristic courage and coolness which distinguished him on all occasions on the field of battle.”
Many years later Kidd referred to Lovell as “one of the most dashing and intrepid officers in the brigade. He was always cool and never carried away with excitement under any circumstances. “ Kidd, who was commanding the regiment at that time, also reported that during the action at Buckland Mills, Virginia, on October 19, 1863, Lovell was riding with him. The Sixth cavalry had been ordered by Custer to take a position in the some alongside the Gainesville-Warrenton pike not far from Broad Run.
The Sixth had gone out about 250 or 300 yards and was approaching a fence which divided [a] farm into fields, when Captain . . . Lovell, who was riding by the side of the commanding officer of the regiment, suddenly cried out:
“Major, there is a mounted man in the edge of the woods yonder,” at the same time pointing to a place direclty in front and about 200 yards beyond the fence.
A glance in the direction indicated, revealed the truth of Captain Lovell’s declaration but, recalling what General Custer had said, I replied:
“The general said we might expect some mounted men of the Seventh [Michigan cavalry] from the direction.”
“But the vidette is a rebel,” retorted Lovell, “he is dressed in gray.”
“It can’t be possible,” was the instant reply, and the column kept moving.
Just then. the man in the woods began to ride his horse in a circle.
“Look at that,” said Lovell, “that is a rebel signal; our men don’t do that.”
The Union forces were routed at Buckland Mills (also known as the “Buckland Race”) and were pursued halfway to Gainesville. The Sixth cavalry eventually went into winter quarters near Stevensburg, Virginia, and Don was absent sick in December of 1863 and January of 1864. He was promoted to Captain of Company F in March of 1864, commissioned October 22, 1863, replacing Captain Heyser (or Hyser).
Don was wounded on June 11, 1864, and in early July he returned home to Grand Rapids. According to the Eagle, Lovell was in Grand Rapids “on a visit to his sister, Mrs. W. D. Foster. The captain is one of the gallant officers of [the 6th cavalry] who was quite severely wounded in one of the battles before Richmond and we are pleased to know that he is rapidly recovering from his injury.”
He remained absent wounded through August, but eventually rejoined the Regiment and in November and December of 1864 he was commanding the Third Battalion. In January of 1865 he was detached on a court martial board, and from February through August (and probably through September as well) he was again commanding the Third Battalion.
Don was probably serving with the 6th Cavalry when it participated in Lee’s surrender in April of 1865 and in the Grand Review in Washington on May 23. On June 1 the Sixth was moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and consolidated with the First Michigan cavalry later that month. Lovell was commissioned Major on June 21, 1865, and mustered out November 24, 1865, probably at Fort Leavenworth.
Following his discharge from the army Don returned to Grand Rapids where he married New York native Maggie G. Blakeslee on January 17, 1867, and they had at least four children” Fannie F. (b. 1868), a son, Mary (b. 1872) and Nellie (b. 1878).
By 1868-69 Don had resumed his trade as a tinsmith and was residing with his wife at 24 Washington Street in Grand Rapids. In 1870 Don owned some $7000 worth of real estate and was working as a tinsmith and living with his wife and daughter in Grand Rapids’ 3rd Ward; also living with them was Maggie’s mother Mary. That same year George G. Lovell was reported lived with his wife a widow Vermont native Ellen Turner Perkins (1827-1897), two teenage children named Perkins, Ella (b. 1857 in Michigan) and May (b. 1859 in Michigan), both attending school, and an infant named George Lovell (8 months) and Lewis (b. 1852 in Michigan). George was working as a horticulturalist and owned some $6000 worth of real estate and another $2200 in personal property and living with his family in Tallmadge, Ottawa County.
Don and his family left Michigan and by 1872 had settled in Colorado. By 1880 he was working as a stock dealer and living with his wife and children in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In June of 1882 Don was residing in Colorado Springs when he testified in the pension claim of Emery Moon.
He eventually moved on to Tacoma, Washington and by 1889 was working as a teamster and living at 743 Tacoma Avenue. The following year he was a deputy U. S. Marshal working at 5 Marketplace and living at N. 8th Street northwest corner of Q Street. He was still a deputy marshal in 1891 and living at 743 Tacoma. In fact he probably lived the rest of his life in Tacoma. By mid-1891 he was Commander for the Grand Army of the Republic Department of Washington and Alaska, and by 1900 was still living in Tacoma.
He was a member of both the Sixth Michigan Cavalry Association and the Old 3rd Infantry Association. In 1870 he applied for and received a pension (no. 103308). He was a member of the First Church of Christ Scientist.
Don died on October 25, 1907, in Tacoma, and was buried Tacoma Cemetery.
In 1907 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 637976).