Above: Confederates capture a Union battery during the Battle of Glendale

ON THIS DATE in 1862, seventeen-year-old drummer Benjamin Levy of the 1st New York Infantry snatched a rifle from an ill Union soldier and joined the fight at the Civil War Battle of Glendale in Virginia. Under heavy fire, he “carried the colors and saved them from capture,” according to his Medal of Honor citation. Levy has been credited as the first Jewish American to be cited for and later receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration.

Six other Jewish soldiers would receive the Medal of Honor for Civil War valor: David Orbansky (Shiloh and Vicksburg); Henry Heller (Chancellorsville); Leopold Karpeles (Battle of the Wilderness); Abraham Cohn (Battle of the Wilderness and Battle of the Crater); Isaac Gause (Berryville, Virginia); and Abraham Greenawalt (Franklin, Tennessee).

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