Civil War Officer and Allegheny County District Attorney
Levi Bird Duff, a native of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, was born in 1837 and raised in the Saltsburg area. After graduating from Allegheny College, he moved to Pittsburgh to study and practice law upon his admittance to the Allegheny Bar Association in April 1860. One year later and just weeks after the start of the Civil War, Duff enlisted in Company A, Ninth Regiment, Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. His acumen as a soldier and leader led to his rapid rise through the ranks, from corporal to captain to major to lieutenant-colonel. Duff led his troops in over twenty battles during his enlistment, such as Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. During his military career, he survived bullet wounds through the right lung and right thigh, though when the latter led to the amputation of his leg in 1864, he received an honorable discharge.
Duff returned to Pittsburgh to continue his law practice and start a family with his wife Harriet, whom he married during his time of service and exchanged dozens of letters with throughout those years. He allegedly would send Harriet flowers or leaves from the battlefields he traveled to along with the letters. Duff displayed a strong passion for politics and inciting change, especially in regards to slavery and racial subjugation. He maintained the same political platforms throughout his law career, including his three-year term as district attorney of Allegheny County until 1868. Duff had two children with Harriet prior to her death in 1877. He remarried Agnes F. Kaufman in 1882. After Agnes’ death in 1913, he decided to close his law practice and move to Lansing, Michigan to spend his final years with his son Hezekiah’s family until his death in 1916. His legacy lives on through his letters recounting his war triumphs and tribulations, which 150 years later are now preserved and available to view at his alma mater Allegheny College.
“Col. Levi Bird Duff, Soldier and Lawyer, Dies at Home of Son.” The Pittsburgh Press, 21 Jan. 1916, p.1.
Helmreich, Jonathan E., editor. To Petersburg with the Army of the Potomac. McFarland, 2009.
“Levi Bird Duff.” Pennsylvania Civil War 150, www.pacivilwar150.com.
“Lieutenant-Colonel Levi Bird Duff, U.S.V.” All Biographies, www.all-biographies.com.