north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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     Collett Leventhorpe, English expatriate and Confederate officer, was born on May 15, 1815, at Exmouth, Devonshire, England. The youngest of three children, he attended Winchester College until age fourteen, then spent three years with a private tutor. In 1832 at age seventeen he received a commission as an ensign in the 14th Foot Regiment of the British Army. For three years he served in Ireland before being assigned to posts in the British West Indies, eventually rising to the rank of captain.

     In 1842 Leventhorpe resigned his commission and returned to England to study medicine. A year later he sailed to Charleston, South Carolina, on a business trip, and while vacationing in Asheville met his future wife, Louisa Bryan of Rutherfordton. He returned to Charleston where he entered the Charleston Medical College and graduated the following year. Leventhorpe was recipient of the college’s silver cup, the highest honor bestowed on a student. He returned to Rutherfordton, married Miss Bryan, and settled in the town as a doctor in 1849.

     Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Leventhorpe offered his services to the state, and was commissioned colonel of the 34th North Carolina Infantry on October 25, 1861. In the spring of 1862 he and his regiment took part in operations on the Roanoke River near Fort Branch but on April 2 he was transferred to the 11th North Carolina. With his new regiment Leventhorpe acted in charge of the Wilmington district before transferring to the Department of Southeastern Virginia. In the fall of 1862 he and his unit returned to North Carolina and took part in fighting around Whitehall and Goldsboro.

     In the spring of 1863, Leventhorpe and his regiment joined the brigade of Brigadier General James J. Pettigrew in the Army of Northern Virginia. On July 1, 1863, Leventhorpe was severely wounded in the fighting just west of Gettysburg. Captured during the Confederate retreat, Leventhorpe spent nine months in Union prisons. Upon his release, Leventhorpe accepted from Governor Zebulon B. Vance a commission as brigadier general of state troops. He was placed in command of home guard units in the Piedmont and oversaw actions against Unionists, particularly in Davidson and Randolph counties. On February 18, 1865, Leventhorpe was offered a Confederate brigadier general’s commission but turned down the offer. Placed in command of Raleigh, Leventhorpe retreated with the Army of Tennessee and surrendered at Greensboro.

     After the war Leventhorpe and his wife moved to New York for several years. He eventually returned to North Carolina, settling in the Happy Valley region of Caldwell County near Lenoir. In 1879, in failing health, Leventhorpe moved his family to Wilkes County, where he died ten years later of consumption.


References:
William Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, IV, 55-56—sketch by Paul Branch
Bradley R. Foley and J. Timothy Cole, Collett Leventhorpe: The English Confederate (2007)
Walter Clark, ed., Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions From North Carolina, 1861-1865 (1901)
Collett Leventhorpe Papers, Manuscripts Department, Duke University Library
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Collett Leventhorpe

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