Civil War general married to a Jewish woman?
June 15, 2020 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Hello! I'm asking for a friend. Do you know of a non-Jewish Civil War general (Union?) who was married to a Jewish woman? Thank you for your help.
posted by 8603 to Society & Culture (3 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
A quick search turned up Charles H.T. Collis, an Irish-American officer in the American Civil War - A Virginia Yankee in the Civil War: The Diaries of David Hunter Strother refers to “Collis’ pretty little Jewish wife” on p.41 of this edition on Google Books. (Same Collis, as the text references his Zouaves.)

Not much, I know (it’s midnight here, and I’m working late, so no time to do a deep search, sorry!), but maybe a starting point?
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 4:04 PM on June 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Collis’s wife was Septima Maria Levy. Her fascinating memoir of her life during the War is online, and includes this and many other stories:
I very often went to Washington while the Army of the Potomac was lying along the Rappahannock River, and my husband would manage to run up for a few hours to see me. On one of these visits I was presented to President Lincoln, and had a private audience. I shall never forget that wonderful man, and the pressure of the immense hand which grasped mine, so fervent, true, and hearty was his manner....He referred in complimentary terms to my husband's services, and to the requests of his superior officers for his promotion to Brigadier-General, adding, in a quaint and earnest way, "but he is too young." I replied promptly: "He is not too young to be killed in the service, and make me a widow." "Well," said he, with the bonhomie of a courtier, "you would have no trouble in finding promotion then," which, for Mr. Lincoln, was, I presume, quite a flirtatious remark. Perhaps he thought that, under the circumstances, I might agree with Madame de Sévigné, who said (with great provocation, it is true): "Would to God we were born widows."
! You get a real sense of her from her writing, though she doesn’t discuss religion. (This piece also identifies her as Jewish.)
posted by sallybrown at 4:13 PM on June 15, 2020 [12 favorites]

I might agree with Madame de Sévigné, who said (with great provocation, it is true): "Would to God we were born widows."

What an amazing and intriguing line!
posted by Salamandrous at 7:51 AM on June 16, 2020

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