Thursday, October 19, 2006

William Mallory Levy Biography: Part II - Civil War

Robert Rosen covers Levy's military record extensively in his Jewish Confederates. Rosen, however, provides no evidence that Levy was actually Jewish. In April 1861, Levy was named captain of the LeCompte Guards from Natchitoches which became Co. A of the 2nd Louisiana Infantry (Louisiana Zouaves). The fact that Levy had military experience from his Mexican War experience certainly made him an obvious choice as an officer. Levy's unit was immediately sent to Virginia. As soon as his men arrived East, Levy sent a letter back to Natchitoches beseeching his fellow townsmen to provide funds for warm clothing for his men. Levy took the opportunity to visit his college town of Williamsburg. In July he was promoted to colonel. One of his soldiers wrote back to home to his parents that he thought the unit's new colonel, "Leavey," to be "the best colonel we have had" (W.W. Posey to Dear parents, July 30, 1861). Levy reported on his participation in the Battle of Lee's Mill in April 1862 in a letter to his wife, writing that "the cause is a righteous one and God is on our side and will watch over us." (Levy to My dearest wife, April 23, 1862). Major General Magruder cited Levy for "judgement, courage, and high soldierly qualities of conduct and arrangements, which I desire specially to commend" (Rosen, p. 105). Levy was not reelected to lead his unit and sought a field command elsewhere. Failing in this effort, he obtained an appointment as a major in the adjutant general's department which was confirmed by the Confederate Congress in July 1862. He became a member of Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor's staff in Louisiana and his closest aide (Rosen, p. 106). Levy had served in the division of Taylor's father, Zachary, in the Mexican War. Richard Taylor described Levy as "an officer of capacity and experience." One of Levy's roles was to represent Taylor's army in negotiating prisoner exchanges with the Union army leadership. During the summer of 1863, Levy was discussed as a candidate for the Confederate Congress from Lousiana's 5th Congressional district, but did not receive the nomination. Following Taylor to his next command, Levy was promoted to lieutenant colonel in Oct. 1864 and named Taylor's inspector general. He accompanied Taylor when he negotiated the surrender of the last Confederate troops operating east of the Mississippi in early May 1865.
[Flag image: regimental flag of 2d Louisiana from]

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