Lewis Livingston (Liv)

From his mother’s journal we learn Lewis Livingston (Liv) Littlepage was born 12 October, 1839.1 As his brother Bill was born sometime in 1838 the two could have been great companions, almost twins, or great rivals.

The only insight we have into Liv and Bill as young boys is from their sister Rose’s 1853 diary, the year Liv turned 14.2 Unlike Bill, who is mentioned by far the most frequently of her siblings, 78 times, Liv appears in only 16 entries over the course of that year. When he is mentioned with an identified brother it is always Hardin (Hardee) or Junius, never with Bill. Thus Bill seemed to occupy center stage among the Littlepage children the year the family moved to Woodbury.

Most of the times Rose mentions Liv involves hunting or fishing. In fact, he spent so much time outdoors and away from home that on 22 April Rose wrote:

Liv has been staying down there (Woodbury) all the season. He came up this evening and we scarcely recognized him. He was so burnt and had turned so ugly. Ma declared he should call her Mrs. Littlepage.

Rose’s other references to Liv are unremarkable: Liv goes to school, spends the night with relatives, stays home from church because of bad weather, and has a chill and then feels better. But almost half of her entries about Liv involve catching shad or bringing home a rabbit. Perhaps Liv’s experiences out-of-doors as a boy prepared him to survive as a soldier.

Liv enlisted early, 13 May 1861. He joined Company D (later H) of Major Harrison Ball Tomlin’s 53rd Regiment of Virginia Infantry, the Mattiponi Guards. That fall his Regiment patrolled both sides of the York River and the lower Peninsular. In February ’62 Private Littlepage was detailed “to go after slaves in King Wm. County to work on fortifications.” After redeploying to North Carolina in March and April, the 53rd returned to Virginia in time to participate in the Battle of Seven Pines (31 May – 1 June), part of McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign. But Liv was not with them. The 53rd had reported much illness while in North Carolina; apparently Liv was among those affected. While passing through Richmond with his regiment shortly before the battle Liv was admitted to a hospital. He seems to have spent much of the next six months alternating between hospital care and his company. His illness is not recorded in his available service records.3

By January ’63 Liv was well enough to return. Now part of Pickett’s division, the 53rd had spend much of that late winter in the southside discouraging the Federals from attacking Richmond from the south. With spring they eventually moved north to rejoin Lee for the trip north into Maryland and Pennsylvania. It was there 3 July Liv found himself, probably for the first time, in the epicenter of a major battle, not just any battle, Gettysburg.

The 53rd was in the center of General Lewis Armistead’s brigade as it advanced July 3rd towards “The Angle” at Cemetery Ridge, what was to be later called “The High Water Mark of the Confederacy.” It was there the 53rd’s flag was captured, as was Private Lewis Livingston Littlepage.

It is unknown what Liv did that afternoon; it is better known what went on around him. During what would become Pickett’s Charge his regiment suffered over 45% casualties.4 Of the 53rd’s 466 effective soldiers that afternoon 34 were killed, 44 wounded, 57 wounded and captured, and 78 captured, not wounded. Liv’s Confederate military records suggest he belonged in the last category. While what remained of his regiment left the next day on the long and painful return to Virginia, Liv was being sent east, briefly, to Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, newly converted as a military prison, then to Fort Delaware, on Pea Patch Island in the middle of the Delaware River. There he was imprisoned only a dozen miles from where his brother Junius went to college.

At the end of that October Liv was transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland where he remained a prisoner when Caroline began a new volume of her journal seven months later.5 Perhaps we will be able to learn more about Liv and Bill over the next three years.

  1. Caroline’s entry for Thursday, 13 October, 1864. While the origin of his first given name is obvious, why Livingston was chosen for his middle name is – so far – not apparent.  (back)
  2. Rose often writes his name as “Live.”  (back)
  3. NARA M324. Compiled service records of Confederate soldiers from Virginia units, labeled with each soldier’s name, rank, and unit, with links to revealing documents about each soldier. Roll: 0948. Accessed at Fold3.com  (back)
  4. The 53rd’s casualties were slightly better than Pickett’s Division as a whole.  (back)
  5. The accounts of the 53rd Virginia are mainly taken from 53rd Virginia Infantry and 5th Battalion Virginia Infantry, First Edition, G. Howard Gregory (1999).  (back)