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NYSV 119th Company H at the graveside of Benjamin Levy
Photograph courtesy of Bill Faieta

Benjamin B. Levy enlisted at the age of 16, in the First New York Volunteers, at the beginning of the war, as a drummer boy. While his regiment was stationed at Newport News, Virginia, he was detailed as orderly for General Mansfield. While he was carrying dispatches on board the steamboat "Express", to General Wool at Fort Monroe, the steamboat was attacked opposite Norfolk, by the rebel gunboat "Seabird." The "Express," with all on board, was in imminent danger of capture, when young Ben Levy saved the steamboat by cutting loose a water schooner they had in tow. The water schooner was captured, but the "Express" arrived safely at Fort Monroe. For this act Levy was highly complimented by Generals Mansfield and Wool.

On the retreat from Richmond, under General McClellan, his tent mate was very ill, and to save him from being taken prisoner, Levy threw away his drum, and taking his comrade's gun and equipment, went into the fight with his regiment at Charles City Cross Roads and saved two of the colors of his regiment from capture. For this act he was promoted on the field by General Phil. Kearny to Color sergeant of his regiment.

After the regiment's two years' service had expired, he re-enlisted in the 40th New York (Mozart) regiment, and at the Battle of the Wilderness he was distinguished for his gallantry. Here he was stricken down by a serious wound, receiving a compound fracture of the left thigh. Left on the field he was captured by Colonel White's guerillas. He lay on the field with no shelter for two weeks, and was then recaptured by Union troops that came from Fredericksburg. He was one of the first from the state of New York to win the Medal of Honor.

Source: THE AMERICAN JEW AS PATRIOT, SOLDIER, AND CITIZEN, by Simon Wolf, p. 271.