The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 11, Number 36, September 7, 2008, Article 25


As E-Sylum readers know, Jim Neiswinter has been researching and writing about the famous 1869 Levick plate of 1793 large cents. He's been learning about the interesting life of numismatist Levick, who served in the Union Army in the Civil War. Recently he came across an article by Scott Valentine about Levick in the Jul/Aug 2004 issue of Military Images, and kindly offered to share it with E-Sylum readers. -Editor

When Brigadier General Daniel Sickles decided to raise a brigade composed of Empire State (New York State) troops, he envisioned a brigade staffed by the finest officers available, officers who had already been tested in battle. With those qualities in mind, Sickles raised what was to become known as the Excelsior Brigade.

One of those selected was Joseph Napoleon Tricot Levick, a transplanted Louisianan of French ancestry. Having served as a private in Company H of the famed 7th New York State Militia for about 40 days, Levick sought to parley his militia experience into a commission. For although it was rapidly becoming a war of exacting brutality, it was just as quickly becoming a war of opportunities wherein a lowly former bookkeeper, such as Levick, could rise through the ranks.

On June 11, 1861, Levick was commissioned 2nd lieutenant of Company I of the 1st Regiment, Sickles' Brigade, later redesignated the 70th New York State Volunteer infantry a.k.a. the 1st Excelsior Regiment of the Excelsior Brigade. For almost two years, he would experience some of the most intense fighting of the war. Promoted on April 30, 1862 to first lieutenant, Levick would engage the enemy in his new rank five days later.

On May 5th, while Brigadier General Edwin Sumner sat idly with his command astride the Yorktown Road in front of Fort Magruder, near Williamsburg, Virginia, an impatient Brigadier General Joseph Hooker, commanding the 2nd Division of the Third Corps, sent his command forward to engage the Confederates entrenched in front of Fort Magruder. The 70th New York, along with the balance of Hooker's 1st Brigade, advanced vigorously to the task.

For about two hours Hooker's Division gave better than they got and actually captured almost all of the rifle pits in front of Fort Magruder. But finally, with no help in sight and fighting against twice their number, Hooker's Division grudgingly began to give ground. In the desperate hand-to-hand fighting of the rear action that followed the 1st Brigade's withdrawal, 1st lieutenant Levick was constantly in the thick of the fighting. Just as all seemed lost for the 1st Brigade, General Philip Kearney's Division of the Third Corps came to Hooker's aid and largely contributed to the victory the Union command would claim that day.

One day later, lieutenant Joseph Napoleon Tricot Levick was promoted on the field of battle to the brevet rank of captain for conspicuous gallantry during the previous day's battle

Jim Neiswinter adds:
Levick_ps This explains why I could never find anything about him in Philadelphia before 1855. I've been trying to find out what the "N T" in "Joseph N. T. Levick" stood for since 1986. If he moved North in the 1850s he probably had a pronounced southern accent. And he fought for the North.

There are 2 known pictures of Levick. The first is the one everyone has seen - with the bowler hat & Pince-nez glasses. The American Numismatic Society archivist, Joe Ciccone, told me he recently found an old photo album. Apparently the ANS asked for pictures of the members back in the late 1860s and put them in this album. The other picture is a strange one. If it didn't have Levick's name at the bottom you would be hard pressed to know that it's him.

I realized this morning when I saw today's date in the paper - Levick died 100 years ago today.

The photo pictures the other American numismatist in today's quiz, Joseph N. T. Levick. The image reminded Jim of Ghandi, but I was thinking more on the lines of former ANA Executive Director Ed Rochette. -Editor

To read the original article, see: Four Yanks (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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