Jewish Civil War Hero: Leopold Karpeles

He earned a Congressional Medal of Honor.

Leopold Karpeles was a Czech-born Jewish immigrant to Galveston, Texas. A proud new American, he joined the Texas Rangers and became its youngest member.

Texas was a slave state, and Leopold had strong anti-slavery views. In 1861, Leonard moved to Massachusetts, the capital of the movement to end slavery. He enlisted in the Union Army and and became a flag-bearer.

Leonard proudly carried the Union flag into battle. During the bloody four-day Battle of the Wilderness, according to his medal citation, he “rallied the retreating troops and induced them to check the enemy’s advance.” For this he earned America’s most prestigious military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

“I marched in an inspired manner with my flag waving proudly . . . providing courage for my comrades. I’m also a prime target for the enemy. My dedication to my country’s flag rests on my ardent belief in this noblest of causes, equality for all.” –Leopold Karpeles

Leopold died in 1909, at age 70. He is buried in the cemetery of the Washington Hebrew Congregation.

For serving his country with the greatest distinction and inspiring others, we honor Leopold Karpeles as this week’s Thursday Hero at Accidental Talmudist.

Meet other inspiring heroes!

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