Contributed by: Diane Siniard
Brigadier-General Collett Leventhorpe was born May 15, 1815, at Exmouth, Devonshire, England, where his parents were then temporarily residing. He was descended from an ancient and knightly family of Leventhorpe hall, Yorkshire, who settled in Hertfordshire during the reign of Richard II, and were created baronets by James L One ancestor was an executor of Henry V, and another married Dorothy, sister of Jane Seymour, third wife of Henry VII I. General Leventhorpe derived his Christian name from his mother, Mary Collett, a descendant of a brother of the first lord of Suffield. He was educated at Winchester college, and at the age of seventeen was commissioned ensign in the Fourteenth regiment of foot, by William IV. He was promoted captain of grenadiers, served three years in Ireland, several years in the West Indies, and a year in Canada. In 1842, he disposed of his commission, returned to England, and thence came to the United States and settled in North Carolina, where his high character and many accomplishments soon made him popular and prominent. In 1849 he married Louisa, second daughter of Gen. Edmund Bryan, of Rutherfordton, N. C., and during the following years he became thoroughly identified with the interests of his adopted State. When North Carolina joined in the Confederate movement he offered her his military services, and upon the organization of the Thirty-fourth regiment was unanimously chosen its first colonel, in November, 1861. He soon brought his regiment to such a remarkable state of discipline and training, that in the latter part of December he was given command of a brigade, including the Thirty-third, Thirty-fourth, Thirty-seventh and part of a new regiment, at Raleigh. April 2, 1862, he was elected colonel of the Eleventh, formerly First or "Bethel" regiment, and at Wilmington was put in charge of a brigade, composed of his regiment and the Forty-third and Fifty-first, and Moore's horse artillery, to which two more regiments were added later. He remained in command of the district of Wilmington until September, when General Clingman was assigned, but on account of the prevalence of yellow fever, Colonel Leventhorpe was left in charge until he was ordered with his brigade to the Blackwater, where he was on duty some time, defending a line of twenty-six miles. His admirable disposition of troops and active defensive operations prevented any Federal success in that quarter. General Pryor relieved him in December, but kept Leventhorpe in command in the field. Early in January, 1863, returning into North Carolina, he fought the battle of White Hall, and won a brilliant victory. At this time his regiment was reported as the best drilled in the service, and received many compliment. In all drilling contests the Eleventh North Carolina was barred, a tribute to its superiority. He participated in the siege of Washington in the spring of 1863, defeating an attack by the enemy April 9th, at Blount's mill. Then with his regiment he joined the army of Northern Virginia, and fought at Gettysburg in Pettigrew's brigade of Heth's division. In the fierce battle of the first day he was a conspicuous figure and fell severely wounded, and thus was prevented from taking part in the desperate charge of the 3d of July, in which his regiment was among the bravest of the heroes of Pettigrew 's division. During the retreat he was captured, and it became necessary to cauterize his wound with nitric acid, an operation to which he submitted, without recourse to anesthetics. After an imprisonment of nearly nine months he was exchanged from Point Lookout. He then accepted from General Vance a commission as brigadier-general of State troops, and command of a large body of Confederate troops. He cleared the enemy from the Roanoke river, and defended that important line of communication, the Weldon railroad. In February, 1865, he was commissioned brigadier-general in the Confederate army, and in this rank he served with Johnston's army until the surrender. After the close of hostilities he devoted himself to various business enterprises, made several journeys to England, resided in New York for some time, but finally returned to the valley of the Yadkin, where he remained until his death, December 1, 1889. General Leventhorpe was a notably handsome man, nearly six and a half feet in height, erect and stately in bearing, and gentle as well as brave. He was faithfully devoted to the South, and the rank he attained, considering his natural aversion to self-aggrandizement, does not adequately measure the value of his services.