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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Levi Sharp

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 544 - 546

One of the honored citizens of Lyndon Township and veterans of the Rebellion is the gentleman who furnishes the following biography. He has been one of the honored citizens of this township since 1866. He is a native of Monroe County, N. Y., bora October 16, 1837, and is the ninth child in a family of thirteen children, seven sons and six daughters, born unto Lawrence and Jane (Johnston) Sharp. There are ten living at present. William is a resident of Penfield, N. Y.; Esther is the wife of Truman A. Hart, of Penfield; Andrew, Abram and Herman all reside in Penfield; Mary is the wife of Franklin Berry, of Penfield; Levi is the subject of this sketch; and Rebecca is the wife of Levi Davis, of Rothbury, Mich. The father was a native of New York, and was reared to agricultural pursuits. He died when Levi was a child of four years. The mother was also a native of New York. Both parents were bora in Dutchess County.

Mr. Sharp, the subject of this sketch, was reared in his native State. He received only a limited education, and his entire life has been spent in hard labor. He was one of the brave men who offered his services and, if need be, his life in defense of his country when "the war clouds scowled on sea and land." He enlisted in Battery L, First New York Light Artillery, under Capt. Reynolds and Col. Bailey, September 3, 1861. He was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, and First Corps, thence to the Army of the Potomac. Harper's Ferry was the first objective point. There they remained one week. At Charleston, Va., was the first encounter in which the battery was engaged. There a member of the battery was wounded. The first engagement was the battle of Cedar Mountain, which lasted one day. Two men of Battery L were wounded there. The next battle was Rappahannock Station, where Battery L was detailed to hold Jackson in check and cover the retreat of the Federals. The next battle of any importance was the battle of Gainesville, where the First Division fought against the entire force, under Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Mr. Sharp says that the battle fought August 28. 1862, at this point was the most terrible engagement during the war, as regards time and the severity of the carnage. At three p. M., when the severest part of the battle occurred, Mr. Sharp was in the thickest of the fight, and seven or eight of the battery were killed. No. 3 was killed not three feet behind Mr. Sharp. The battle was so severely contested, that many times Mr. Sharp could feel the wind of the flying shells. This was the day before the second battle of Bull Run, the engagement continuing until ten o'clock at night. The regiment made a detour of fifteen miles at midnight, and at nine o'clock the next morning the fight began between the two forces, under Gens. Pope and McDowell of the Federal army, and Gen. Lee of the rebel army. This hard-fought battle was contested the entire day, and thousands of the poor fellows bit the dust. Old Battery L was in the contest all day, and at this battle Mr. Sharp was bruised on the right shoulder, which almost disabled his arm, but he stood nobly and bravely at his gun, which was No. 1. The battery suffered severely. One man by the name of Ganyard, while looking in another direction, was struck by a spent cannon-ball, which crushed his leg and made him a cripple for life. Mr. Sharp witnessed this incident. At the battle of Chantilly, Gen. Jackson tried to flank the Union forces, and the battery was put there to keep them back. They unlimbered their guns, put in a double charge of canister and let fly at short range, eight or ten rods. The recoil of the gun was so great that it went flying down in the water and red clay, which necessitated the boys wading to recover the piece. Mr. Sharp tells how at that place the old battery was firing at the rebels, when an aide de camp came to Capt. Reynolds for a section of artillery. The right section was sent, Mr. Sharp being among the number. This was at the battle of Gainesville. They came around on the brow of a "hog back," and planted the gun right in the face of the line of rebel infantry, and the Lieutenant gave the order to the gunners to put in percussion shells and depress the guns two degrees, as the enemy's battery was down the hill. They did so, and the first discharge completely wrecked the guns, which the cannoneers left as soon as the first one was fired. The rebel infantry sent volley after volley into the lone section of Battery L, but after a short time they beat a retreat to save their guns.

After the battle of Chantilly, the Union troops retreated to Washington, D. C. and the next move was across to Georgetown, on their way to Antietam, where one of the bloodiest battles of the war was fought. The battle of South Mountain came first, and in this Mr. Sharp took part, the Union army being victorious. While the battery was en route to Antietam, they came to the little town of Boonesboro, where the guns were unlimbered, and opened fire on the cavalry in the streets. The engagement at Antietam lasted from sunrise until dark, and Mr. Sharp says that he could walk over the field on the dead bodies. The rebels fell back and the victory was with the Union troops. Battery L was badly fed and clothed, and, needing rest, they remained there three weeks, during which time they were given new clothes and fresh horses. Gen. McClellan was retired at this point, on account of not following Gen. Lee, and Gen. Joe Hooker became commander of the First Corps, while Gen. Burnside was given McClellan's place. After Antietam, Battery L followed Gen. Lee, took part in the famous "mud march," and went into winter quarters at Belles Plaines. The hard-fought battle of Fredericksburgh, December 13, 1862, lasted all day. The battery took its position in the night, and in the early morning both sides began a terrific cannonade. The sharpshooters were in trenches, but the Iron Brigade of Wisconsin displaced them, and a pontoon bridge was laid. At night the troops retreated. Mr. Sharp's position in battle was always with his right side to the enemy. Here a shell passed his face so close that the force of the ball almost took his breath away, and his eyes became bloodshot. At this point he saw a rebel shell cut its way through the Federal troops, killing eighteen men. At Rappahannock, while some Federal infantry was watching the progress of the cannonade, a ball struck an infantryman who was lying flat on the ground with his head raised a little. It blew his head into atoms, and flesh and bones were dashed into Mr. Sharp's face. The failure of the Federal troops at Fredericksburgh gave Gen. Hooker the command. Then came the battle of Chancellorsville, where Stonewall Jackson was killed by his own men, Mr. Sharp hearing the volley. Here Battery L did hard service. Then came the most important battle of the war, at Gettysburg, with the rebels under Gen. Lee, and the Federals under Gen. Mead. Battery L was the first to open fire on the morning of July 1. On the first day Mr. Sharp was wounded in the right leg, but not disabled. Gen. John F. Reynolds became commander of the corps, and the battery was placed beside a little piece of woods near where now stands the monument erected to Gen. Reynolds. There is also a granite shaft, with the inscription, "Battery L, First New York Light Artillery, lost seventeen men here." The second day the troops were stationed on Cemetery Ridge, and were reenforced by Gen. Hancock's Corps. The third day closed the engagement, with the Union victory, and the troops then followed Lee to Virginia, making an attack at Rappahannock, at which place Gen. Grant became commander of the Army of the Potomac. Then came the Wilderness campaign, where the troops fought all day long and marched all night. The First Corps went into battle with fourteen thousand, and at the end of the first day had less than six thousand. Mr. Sharp took part in the hard-fought battle of Cold Harbor, when Gen.Wadsworth was killed and his body fell into the hands of the rebels, but his wife came and took his remains back to Genesee County. The troops crossed the James River on the longest pontoon bridge ever built, and there Mr. Sharp saw the "Monitor," which bore many marks of battle. For two months they took part in the memorable siege of Petersburgh, where not a man dared to show himself without being shot at. Guns were readily fired at hats elevated on sticks. Here Mr. Sharp and Edwin Norris were sitting in their bunk, drinking coffee, when a thirty-two pound shell tore their tent to shreds and spilled the beverage. At Petersburgh our subject's term of enlistment expired. He had served three years and three months, passing through the hardest battles of the Rebellion. He was honorably discharged October 24, 1864, and went home to don the civilian's garb.

In 1866, Mr. Sharp came to Wisconsin with his widowed mother and his sister, and for $500 purchased eighty acres of unimproved land, on which was a little log house and barn. In 1889, he sold this property for $4,000. He came to Sheboygan County almost penniless and had to borrow money from his uncle to get his goods from the pier, so that it will be seen that Levi Sharp has seen the ups and downs of this life in reality.

Mr. Sharp married Miss Sarah A. Curtis, who was born in New York, January 9, 1846. They were married October 15, 1867, and have four children: Jennie, wife of Edward Colwell, who was educated in the Hingham and Waldo High Schools, and was one of Sheboygan County's successful teachers; Viola, who was educated in the Waldo schools; William H., who is engaged in farming; and Earl L., the youngest. Mrs. Sharp is a daughter of John D. and Mary Ann (Sponenburg) Curtis. She was educated in the common schools and has been a valuable helpmate to her husband and a loving mother to her children.

Mr. Sharp is a true-blue Republican and votes the way he sighted his guns. He and his wife are friends of the public schools. He has been tendered offices of his township, but he prefers to devote his time to his farm duties. He is a member of A. O. Heald Post No. 192, G. A. R., of Cascade, and has been one of the active officers. He attended the National Encampment in Washington in 1892, and viewed many of the old landmarks. Mr. and Mrs. Sharp are owners of one hundred and seven acres of tillable land, three miles from the depot at Waldo and his beautiful and comfortable home and outbuildings are monuments to his and his wife's thrift and economy. This sketch is the best soldier's record the biographer has found in Sheboygan County, and we are glad to present this in full, as it will be cherished and held sacred when father and mother have passed away.

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