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ARTICLES Colonel John Levering, Assistant Adjutant General

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Col. John Levering was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 19, 1826.  His grandfather, Major John Levering, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War.  John Levering lived in Philadelphia and married Miss Elizabeth W. Forman, in December of 1847.  He had four children, Frank, Emma, and Fred.  After his marriage, John Levering traveled West, where he stopped in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1849.  He only stayed in Cincinnati for a year and decided to move to Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana on March 1, 1850.  He purchased a farm and grew crops for five years.  In the winter of 1854 to 1855, he served as a principal clerk of the House of Representatives of Indiana, and a member of the State Board of Agriculture.  He also was a county surveyor and city civil engineer.  In January 1856, he established a real estate and loan business, with over two million dollars invested at one time, more than all the banks in the city of Lafayette.

Colonel John Levering

When the Civil war broke out in April of 1861, Indiana Governor Oliver Morton and John Levering aided in equipping the Indiana troops.  He made a contract for the first army tents in Philadelphia.  On June 5, 1861, Governor Morton commissioned John Levering an Assistant Quartermaster, with the rank of Captain, of the 2nd Indiana Brigade and on August 3, President Abraham Lincoln commissioned Levering a Captain and Assistant Quartermaster of the United States army and served in the Cheat Mountain Campaign.  In January 1862, the president ordered Levering to Post Gauley Bridge, Virginia and in August 1862, he served on the staff of General Pope, commanding the Army of the Potomac.  On September 18, 1862, the Quartermaster General ordered Levering to report to Colonel Ingallis, Chief Quartermaster at Union General George B. McClellan’s headquarters.  On September 21, 1862, Levering reported to General Fitz John Porter, Fifth Corps.  Seven days later, on September 27, 1862, by a special order of the Army of the Potomac, Levering was assigned to Humphrey’s Division.  On November 4, 1862, General A. A. Humphrey ordered Levering to report to Washington, D. C.  On November 10, 1861, Levering reported to General J. J. Reynolds at Louisville, Kentucky, to join the Army of the Cumberland.  On February 17, 1863, Levering became Chief Quartermaster at Nashville, Tennessee and on May 7, 1863, President Lincoln, on the recommendation of Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, appointed Levering Major and Assistant Adjutant General and assigned to Major General J. J. Reynold’s Fifth Division, 14th Army Corps at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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In December 1863, Major General George Thomas ordered Levering to New Orleans, with, J. J. Reynolds.  In 1864, he served as Adjutant General of the Defenses of New Orleans and the 19th Corps.  On December 22, 1864, Levering and General Reynolds transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas.  On January 4, 1865, Levering became Adjutant General of the Department of Arkansas, under the 17th Army Corps.  On February 8, 1865, the War Department commissioned Levering a Lieutenant Colonel.  On March 2, 1865, the President commissioned him a brevetted Colonel.  On May 9, 1865, the War Department and General J. J. Reynolds awarded Levering the highest commendations on qualifications of staff officers.  On April 20, 1865, the Department of Arkansas moved Levering to Fort Smith and Port Gibson, in the Cherokee Nation.  On July 4, 1865, Levering was sent to Memphis and New Orleans on special assignment to General Canby and Phil Sheridan.  General Sherman sent Levering to St. Louis on special business and on November 20, 1865, Levering was relieved of duty and ordered to report to the Adjutant General of the army, and during the month of December was on special duty in Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, with his headquarters at Boggy Depot.  On January 4, 1866, Levering was honorably discharged.

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General Reynolds wrote that Colonel Levering “entered the service at the very beginning of the Rebellion, and has served zealously and faithfully; has never been absent from his command in the field, except when compelled to be so by sickness contracted in the line of his duty. . . . his reports in now on file in Washington prove him to be a superior officer.  As adjutant general he has been equally distinguished in the Army of the Cumberland and Department of the Gulf.  He is an officer of superior business ability.”

After the war, John Levering returned home to his business in Lafayette.  For many years, Levering served as the director of the First National Bank of Lafayette.  He died on July 2, 1901, at the age of 75.  His wife, Elizabeth, died on November 24, 1887.  He is buried in the Spring Vale Cemetery in Tippecanoe County, Indiana.

Militia sword belonging to John Levering. Inscription reads: “Major John Levering A.A.G.”


Biographical Record and Portrait Album of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, (Chicago, Illinois, Lewis Publishing Company, 1888), 388-392.

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