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The story of a Civil War Soldier
Henry L Allen was the fourth of eight children of William P and Lucinda Allen. He was born on December 17, 1842, possibly in Brockport, Monroe County or perhaps Millville, town of Shelby, Orleans County NY. What is known is that by the time Henry was eight his father had established himself as a tanner and farmer in Millville,a small community a few miles from the prosperous village of Medina.
The 1860 federal census shows eighteen year old Henry at home. His two older brothers George and Charles were listed as "Farmer and Currier" like their father, but young Henry was just listed as a farmer. It might be that unlike his brothers, he wasn't going to follow in what would become the family's main trade. Perhaps his desire to make his own way led him to be the first of his brothers to join the Union Army during the Civil War.
Henry enrolled in Company D, 28th New York Volunteer Infantry in Medina on November 28, 1861. He was one week shy of his 19th birthday when he was officially mustered in at Rochester. The 28th had been entered the service in May of 1861, and by the time Henry joined the 28th had already seen action. ( see http://www.28thnycoe.com/history/unithistory.htm for the Regimental History). When Henry caught up with the Company D, he discovered that his sergeant was William Lewis, cousin to his Henry's new sister in law, Elnora Hunt, who married Henry’s oldest brother George the previous February.
By the spring of 1862 Henry's Company D and the rest of the “Niagara Rifles” or “Scott Life Guards” as they were known were fighting Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He saw action at the Battle of Winchester, and then marched with his company into Culpeper County to a place called Cedar Mountain in August. There the Union Army, led by General Ben Butler, faced the forces of the famous Confederate General, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.
Sgt. Lewis later penned an account of Company D's experience in the Battle of Cedar Mountain.
"We had been lying in the woods all night, and in the morning of the 9th of August, 1862, first we were covering a battery, then we were ordered out in the field to form a line of battle. Those shells were singing their same old song over head and dropping around us, when I heard the clear, singing voice of Col. Brown command - forward! ....Things were looking rather squally about then, rather indicating that somebody was liable to be hurt. We pushed on through the field, and piece of timber- to the edge of a large wheatfield, wheat having been cut and standing in shocks...the enemy were in force on the other side of the field, we were satisfied, ut as we gazed over the quietude of that wheatfield, not a thing could be seen stirring. What mind could think or conjecture at this time that that quiet field should be the scene of such strife and struggle as was enacted during that sultry afternoon, the mercury ranging at the time from 100 degrees to 109 degrees in the shade. After waiting a short time we were ordered to charge the enemy in the woods ont he other side of the field. We hardly struck the first edge of the wheatfield till we were made aware that the enemy were there in full force....We went on, drove the rebels from their hiding place and through the woods. We reformed and went back through them again,a nd then our trouble began; the rebs had swung around in our rear...."
(taken from a compilation of letters from the Lewis and Hunt families done by Barbara Thesing, April 1996 )
Their company began to fight their way back to their lines, Sgt Lewis making it two thirds of the way back across the wheatfield when he collapsed, "compelled to drop from the wounds I had received some time before."
Sgt Lewis laid two nights and a day on the battlefield before he was rescued - he was in the hospital for three months. The regiment reported 213 men killed, wounded, or missing in the battle. One of those was Henry Allen. The records of the company muster rolls reported him "absent" from August to November of that year. Under remarks appears "Missing in action at Cedar Mountain since Aug 9, 1862." It is likely the Allen Family back in Millville heard the news from a local newspaper or letter from Henry's company. Like other MIA's families, they prayed that Henry had only been wounded or captured, and he would be found.
On April 10, 1863, a little more than eight months after the battle, Lafayette Chaffee, Captain of Company D officially reported that "Henry Allen a private of Co. D 28th Regiment NY Vols died August 9, 1863 near Culpeper Va. Killed in action at the Battle of Cedar Mt." Chaffee also noted that the fallen soldier was due one month and nine days pay but owed the United States $5.50 "for clothing." Although the report stated that the "inventory of effects" have been dully forwarded, the official Casualty Sheet noted that there were "no effects".
It is quite possible that Henry fell during the company's charge and bloody retreat at Cedar Mountain, and that his body was hastily buried in an unmarked grave on the battlefield. After the war the remains of Union soldiers were moved to the newly created National Cemetery in Culpeper Va. If Henry's body was found, it was probably moved there, but his name does not appear in the official database of names. He and his comrades are remembered in the cemetery however, for in 1902 the State of New York erected a monument to the men of the 28th who died at Cedar Mountain.
The gravestone in the Millville cemetery (shown at the top of the page) is probably just a cenotaph - a memorial to the son who marched off to the Civil War, never to return.
May the sacrifice of Henry L Allen and the thousands of other Civil War soldiers never be forgotten!
Pension Application by Henry's Mother Lucinda Allen in 1884.
Monument to the 28th NY at Cedar Mountain
(Note that there are several errors on the stone in Millville Cemetery. First, date of his death is wrong, the month and day is correct for the battle, but he died in 1862, not 1863. The mistake may be due to the fact that he was declared dead in that latter year.The company is also incorrect, being identified as "C" rather than "D")
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