A Civil War Biography

Levin M. Lewis

Levin M. Lewis was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1832. He joined the Methodist Church in Middletown, Connecticut, was licensed to preach in Missouri in 1855, taught in Plattsburg H.S., Missouri, and served stints as pastor in churches in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas.

When the war came he joined company A of the 7th Missouri. At the Battle of Lone Jack he was in command of company A and was hit square in the forehead by a spent ball that hit with enough force to stick in his head but he was able to pull it out. One of his messmates, a Presbyterian, joked later that he wanted to convert Lewis to Presbyterianism but if Yankee bullets couldn't penetrate his head he probably couldn't either. A subsequent wound to his hand required him to retire from the field of battle. At Helena he was the colonel of the 7th Missouri. Lewis was in the thick of the fight in the Confederate sunrise attack on the Union center at Battery C located on Graveyard Hill. In the third charge against the battery, Lewis and his men captured the position but he was again wounded and captured. His regiment suffered the highest casualties of any Confederate regiment in the battle. Evacuated to Memphis he ultimately wound up at Johnson's Island. When he rejoined the 7th Missouri, it had been redesignated as the 16th Missouri. As Kirby Smith surrendered the Trans-Mississippi forces, he issued General Order 46 on May 16, 1865, which promoted Lewis and others, to general effective on May 10, 1865.

Lewis was a writer after the war, even writing the introduction to the memoirs of a former comrade recounting their experiences on Johnson's Island. He served as President of Arcadia College, Missouri (1870-73), and in an unspecified role at The Little Rock Female College (1875-78) before coming to Texas A&M College in 1878. He became my alma mater's first head of the English Department. An annual student award and lecture series at A&M are still named in honor of General L.M. Lewis. Only after about a year at A&M, he was caught up in the early politics of the school and was asked by the A&M board of directors to resign along with the entire faculty on November 22, 1879 . Lewis moved to Waxahachie, TX as President of Marvin College and pastor of the Methodist Church there until 1884 when another dispute triggered his resignation and departure from Waxahachie. He moved to Dallas for a while but died in Los Angeles in 1886. He is remembered as a wise man, who was rather set in his ways.

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