contributed by Jack Bates
Henry Allen was born in South Norwalk, Connecticut on August 23, 1842. His father was Captain William Allen, born in Castine, Maine ca. 1790, a well-known ship master engaged in the New York and Liverpool packet service. In later years, he was a “coaster,” trading in ports along the Atlantic coast. Henry’s mother, Sophia Hutchings Allen, was born in St. Andrews, New Brunswick on August 26, 1814. She emigrated to New York City as Sophia Richmond, most likely a widow, with her three year old daughter Harriet Richmond, arriving on the 190 ton brig Peri on July 13, 1835. Sophia Richmond married Captain Allen shortly after arriving in New York, perhaps having traveled there for that purpose. Their children were: Eliza, Mary, Sophia, Henry, James L., and an infant who died young. In 1850 the Allen’s lived in Norwalk with Captain Allen active in shipping. In 1860 they were living in New York City where the senior Allen was retired and Sophia ran a boarding house. The family probably moved back to Norwalk around the start of the Civil War.
Henry attended public schools in Norwalk until age 13, when he went to sea with his father, making two voyages. At age 15, he began work at the Norwalk Gazette where he learned the printing trade. In 1859, Henry went to Ashtabula, Ohio and spent a year with the Ashtabula Telegraph. He then returned to New York and worked for the printing firm of John A. Gray & Green. Here he remained until called to war.
The members of the Allen family were staunch Union supporters. Captain William Allen contributed to the war effort by commanding the steamer Huzzar which transported troops and supplies for the Army. Half-sister Harriet Richmond had married Aaron Homer Byington in Norwalk on November 8, 1849. Byington, born in Herkimer, New York on July 23, 1826, was the publisher of the Norwalk Gazette newspaper for nearly 50 years and U.S. consul to Naples, Italy from 1897 to 1907. He was one of Norwalk’s most illustrious citizens from about 1850 until his death in 1910. He was noted for his war correspondent work during the Civil War, and was vitriolic toward the southern cause and anyone not 100% for the Union. Younger brother James L. Allen, who was also learning the printing trade at the Gazette, enlisted in Company D, 7th Regiment of Connecticut Volunteer Infantry on August 24, 1861 and was mustered in on September 5, 1861. James, born ca. June, 1846, was just past his 15th birthday, but swore that he was 18 on his enlistment papers. He was promoted to corporal on March 8, 1864, and to sergeant on June 16, 1864. The following day he was wounded in the shoulder at Bermuda Hundred, one of 17 casualties of the regiment on that day. Sent home to recover, he died July 10, 1864, barely 18 years old.
Henry Allen enlisted as a private in Company B of the 71st Regiment New York State Militia Infantry on April 19, 1861 at age 18 (he apparently claimed to be 20). The 71st was a three-month unit. [Note: not the same organization as the 71st New York Regiment of Infantry, a three-year unit, or the 71st Regiment of the New York National Guard.] The 71st arrived in Washington, D.C. on April 25, 1861 with nine companies and was mustered in to federal service on April 30th. It became part of Col. Ambrose Burnside’s 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division (Brig. Gen. David Hunter and Col. Andrew Porter), Army of Northeastern Virginia (Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell). The regiment took part in the occupation of Alexandria, Virginia on May 24th; an attack on artillery batteries at Aquia Creek, Virginia on May 31st and June 1st; an attack on Matthias Point, Virginia on June 27th; and the first Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) on July 21st. The 71st returned to New York City and mustered out on July 31, 1861. It had lost one officer and 14 enlisted men to battle, and another officer and four enlisted men to disease. Henry‘s obituary in the New Haven Palladium mentions that he took part in the first Battle of Bull Run, and he likely took part in all of the Regiment’s other actions as well. After leaving the 71st, Henry returned to New York City where he resided for about one year.
In July, 1862 he went to his old home town of Norwalk to help recruit a company for the newly announced all Fairfield County regiment. A brief article in the July 22, 1862 Norwalk Gazette said that Governor Buckingham had promised to authorize such a regiment if the County would contribute its quota of men for the 14th regiment then being formed in Hartford. A second article in that paper entitled “Enlist! Enlist!” urged men to enlist in Captain Fowler’s Company, after which “Young Allen, formerly of the N.Y. 71st” and others would lend their energies towards the enlistment of another company. Both of these companies were slated to be part of the Fairfield County regiment. The latter article also noted, by way of encouragement, that unless Norwalk’s quota of men came forward, a draft would be made. Men thus drafted into service would not collect the $300 plus bounty for a voluntary enlistment. An article in the following week’s Gazette (July 29, 1862) set out the pay and bounty, and noted that a private with a wife and three children would receive $458 in all “providing the war is ended within one year, which is probable. Few men can do so well in these hard times…, to lay aside all questions of patriotism.” And on August 2, 1865, the bounty was increased by $50 when the town voted to pay that sum to each man who enlisted before August 20th. Not everyone was eager to serve, as the Gazette (August 19, 1862) noted that the state had nearly 1000 “certified cowards,” a term it applied to those who sought medical certificates of exemption.
The Gazette of August 12, 1862 reported two new developments in the formation of two Norwalk companies for the Fairfield County regiment. First, Captain Fowler’s Company had filled to maximum on Friday, August 8th and had to turn away large numbers of would-be volunteers. However, Lt. Enoch Wood has been commissioned by the Adjutant General to recruit a second Norwalk company in conjunction with “recruiting officers Lewis, Allen, &c.” A second article, topped with an eagle-and-flag motif and titled “Make Way for the Lockwood Guards!” announced that wealthy Norwalk financier Legrand Lockwood had contributed $1,000 to pay $10 to every man volunteering for the new Norwalk company upon swearing in. Lt. Wood, with his co-recruiters Allen, Knapp, Kellogg, Lewis, etc. had already enrolled fifty men. It estimated that the company would be full “by day after tomorrow.” A company consisted of three officers and 80 to 98 enlisted men.
Sure enough, the August 19th Gazette reported that the Lockwood Guards company had filled up in three days time, and had left for camp on Friday, August 15th with three officers and 96 enlisted men. The officers, all from Norwalk, were: Enoch Wood, captain; Henry Allen, first lieutenant; and William A. Kellogg, second lieutenant. Of the enlisted, 84 men were from Norwalk, 11 from Wilton and one from New Canaan. The Fairfield County regiment was designated as the Seventeenth Regiment of Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. Captain Fowler’s Company became company A, and the Lockwood Guards became company F. Thus Henry Allen began the association which would define his life.
Henry’s military record lists him as having “joined for duty and enrolled” at Norwalk on July 23, 1862for a period of three years’ service. The 17th mustered in to federal service at Camp Aiken (now Seaside Park) in Bridgeport on August 28, 1862 and Henry was commissioned as first lieutenant of company F. He claimed to be 21 years old, but was barely 20 when mustered in. Life at Camp Aiken was pleasant. The Gazette of August 26th reported that “the boys have a most beautiful camping ground, and seem to enjoy their new soldier life exceedingly well. The patriotic citizens of Bridgeport have shown them every attention, and many are the instances of kindness and attention narrated by our boys.” On Saturday afternoon, the ladies of Norwalk chartered a car and made a picnic excursion to the camp, carrying provisions for a “most sumptuous repast for the two Norwalk companies. Later that day, Mrs. Legrand Lockwood and two local ministers visited and presented each member of the Lockwood Guards with a gilt Bible. The paper noted that “Our friend Lockwood’s theology is of the Cromwellian kind – Bible in one pocket, and bullets in the other.” The citizens of Norwalk were planning to present a regimental standard (flag) to the 17th the next Wednesday. Adjutant Albert Wilcoxson received a beautiful regulation sword and belt from his friends at St. John’s Masonic Lodge. Lt. William Kellogg, who had served for years as foreman of Phoenix Hose Company, was presented with a handsome six-shooter, Allen’s patent, from the firemen. The Gazette noted that several of the boys had requested sewing kits and suggested that the “knitting circle” ladies get together so that 200 kits might be turned out in one evening.
The 17th broke camp on Wednesday, September 3 and left by special train for New York City. The train, which consisted of 27 cars drawn by two locomotives, passed the South Norwalk station at 1:15 p.m. The Gazette of September 9th reported the scene, doubtless similar to those in other towns along the line. “The scene at our Depot, as the immense train rolled its length along, cheered by a thousand voices, and greeted by a sea of kerchiefs, was thrilling indeed. Mothers, wives and sisters thronged every approach to the platform, while fathers and brothers pressed their way up to bid them God-speed on their holy mission. The disappointment in the train not halting, was wide spread and saddening…” The soldiers arrived at the 42nd Street station at 3 p.m. and marched to the foot of 23rd Street, where they took a steamer across New York harbor to Elizabeth, New Jersey. There they boarded another train toBaltimore, where they camped outside Fort Marshall.
The regiment spent the first several nights without their tents, which they eventually received. The Gazette (September 16, 1862) reported the following daily routine: reveille and roll call at daybreak; drill from 5:30 to 6:30; breakfast at 7; drill from 8:30 to 10:30; dinner at 12 noon; drill from 2 to 4; dress parade at 5:30; supper at 6; tattoo and roll call at 9; and taps at 9:15. On Thursday, September 11th, the two Norwalk companies practiced battalion drill, with each of the four platoons acting as a company. Captains Fowler and Wood wanted their units to have this drill, even if the rest of regiment did not. The 17th had a short and rather unhappy stay at Baltimore.
Col. Noble angered Major General John E. Wool, in command of the defenses of Baltimore, by requesting that the War Department transfer the regiment to Major General Franz Sigel’s 11th Corps. Late on October 14, 1862, Gen. Wool ordered the 17th to be out of Baltimore by noon the next day. The 17th complied, and after a short stay near Washington, D.C., joined the 11th Corps’ Second Brigade, First Division at Gainesville, Virginia. The Second Brigade consisted of the 17th Connecticut and four Ohio regiments, the 25th, 55th, 75th and 107th. The five regiments served together for the rest of the war inVirginia,South Carolina andFlorida. During the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg, the Second Brigade was held at Brooke Station, Virgina as a reserve for the Army of the Potomac
Lt. Allen was appointed acting regimental quartermaster on January 4, 1863, and then was promoted to captain of company F on March 24, 1863 at Brooke Station, replacing Captain Enoch Wood who had resigned the day before because of ill health. Many years later Private John H. Batterson of Company F would recall that Lieutenant/Captain Allen was beloved by his fellow soldiers. “He looked after their every need and…when there were no rations left, he made it his business to find something for them to eat, from somewhere.” Perhaps his earlier enlisted service in the 71st New York gave him a different view of life in the lower ranks than most officers.
The 17th’s baptism of fire occurred at Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. The regiment, part of the Eleventh Corps, had the misfortune of bearing the brunt of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s surprise flanking attack, particularly companies G and I, which were on picket duty in front of the lines. Lt. Col. Charles Walter of Bridgeport was shot in the head and killed, and Col. William H. Noble, also of Bridgeport, was shot through the left arm and taken out of action. The regiment was forced to retreat.
Captain Allen was assigned to serve on the general court-martial of Lt. August Rachel, quartermaster of the 41st NY Volunteer Infantry Regiment on May 26, 1863. Lt. Rachel was discharged on July 9, 1863, so he was likely found guilty of some major infraction.
Next up was the Battle of Gettysburg. Still part of the Eleventh Corps, the 17th reached the battlefield at the height of the fight on the first day, July 1, 1863. They were sent forward to Blocher’s Knoll (Barlow’s Knoll) where it was attacked by a large confederate force. Lt. Col. Douglas Fowler of Norwalk was killed and Major Allen Brady (Torrington) was so severely wounded (on July 2nd) that he never returned to active duty. The regiment was forced to retreat through the town to Cemetery Hill, where they were placed at its eastern foot. The Confederates charged them many times over the next two days, but were never able to break through the lines. In this action on July 2nd, Captain Allen was wounded in the left hand and arm by buckshot and taken out of action. He was sent to Baltimore where an Army surgeon found him unfit for duty and sent him home to recuperate. He wrote to the Adjutant General from Norwalk on July 8th to advise him that “a surgeon of this place…informs me that it will be necessary to amputate one of my fingers.” On July 23, a surgeon at theNew Haven army hospital found him unfit to travel and recommended 20 days additional leave.
Captain Allen rejoined his unit on August 21, 1863. By that time the 17th was at Morris Island, South Carolina. They took part in the siege of Fort Wagner, and were under heavy artillery fire for two weeks. The Confederates abandoned the fort on September 6th. In late February, 1864, the regiment was transferred to Jacksonville, Florida. Col. Noble took over command of the 2nd Brigade after Brig. Gen. Adelbert Ames became divison commander. Captain Albert Wilcoxson of Norwalk was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and on March 5, 1864, Captain Allen was promoted to major, replacing the disabled Major Allen Brady. Shortly thereafter, the 17th moved its headquarters to St. Augustine, where it would remain for the balance of the war.
On April 25, 1864, Major Allen went on reconnaissance with a detachment of the regiment. By June 24, 1864 he was in command of the regiment at the Post of St. Augustine, Florida. On August 29, 1864 he was placed in command of U.S.forces at Picolata, Florida. He was granted 30 days’ leave on October 10, 1864, but apparently left on October 29th. On November 26, 1864 a surgeon in Providence, RI certified Major Allen to be “invalided” there from “intermittent fever (Chills and Fever) with consequent prostration of the whole system since the commencement of his illness November 17th.” The surgeon found him unable to resume his duties or travel in less than ten days from the exhaustion of his leave on November 29th. He resumed his duties at Picolata onDecember 14, 1864.
The 17th lost Col. Noble for the remainder of the war when he was captured on December 24, 1864 as he was returning to St. Augustine after presiding over a court-martial in Jacksonville. He was sent to Andersonville prison camp where he remained until the war ended.
On February 4, 1865, Lt. Col. Wilcoxson was wounded and captured in an action near Dunn’s Lake (Braddock’s Farm). He died in a rebel hospital at Tallahassee on March 7th. Thus Major Allen became the ranking officer of the regiment, and formally assumed command of the Post of St. Augustine and the 17th Regiment on March 12, 1865. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on May 20, 1865. The war was essentially over after Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his forces, including those in Florida, on April 26, 1865. The 17th moved to Jacksonville to help restore railroads in the area, and then mustered out at Hilton Head, South Carolina on July 19, 1865. Lt. Col. Allen was granted a leave of absence on June 28th, but mustered out with his regiment.
In the late spring and summer of 1865, newspapers were full of reports and speculation regarding the return of local regiments. The Gazette of June 27, 1865 reported that the 17th would not be leaving Florida until the last of July. However, the paper noted that “as orders are so freely countermanded…it is possible that they may return before that time.” Finally, the Bridgeport Daily Farmer of July 25th headlined “The Seventeenth at Home!” reporting the arrival of the regiment in New York City on board the steamer Arago the previous afternoon. They had shipped out that same evening for New Haven to be mustered out. The Farmer huffed that “that work should have been done here,” noting that most of the men were from Fairfield County.
The 17th Regiment of Connecticut Volunteer Infantry arrived in New Haven in the early hours onTuesday, July 25, 1865 with Lt. Col. Henry Allen leading 22 officers and 520 enlisted men. They were held on board until10 a.m. until a proper committee of reception could be formed. The regiment marched through the principal streets of the city to a hearty welcome. Upon arrival at the Green, they stacked arms and were furnished with a fine collation. They were honored by addresses from Mayor Scranton, Governor William A. Buckingham and Rev. Leonard Bacon, D.D. Lt. Col. Allen, for the regiment, thanked the people of the city for their generous reception. Most of the men were given furloughs until Thursday when they returned to New Haven for the final process of becoming civilians again.
Henry Allen received his pay and final discharge on August 3, 1865, 20 days before his 23rd birthday. The official records listed him as being 23. According to his obituary, he was the second youngest regimental commander in the U. S. Army during the Civil War.
Norwalk held its own celebration for its returning veterans, primarily companies A and F of the 17th Connecticut, on Wednesday, August 2, 1865. The Gazette of August 1, 1865 had a full column article urging all citizens to “unite in a public WELCOME to those of her sons who have nobly shouldered their muskets and bid defiance to the traitorous hordes who would fain have destroyed this glorious nation bequeathed us by Washington and the blood of the fathers of the first Revolution.” A Committee of Arrangements comprised of the best men in town established a “Programme” for the day, while the ladies were urged to supply bouquets, flowers, cakes, pies and desserts for the soldiers’ tables. The honorees were any Norwalk man who served in either the Army or the Navy for at least nine months and who was either honorably discharged or still in service.
The Gazette of August 8, 1865 reported a celebration that may well be the largest event ever held in Norwalk, given the size of the town at that time. Companies A and F of the 17th, composed primarily of Norwalk men with a few from Wilton, came down from New Haven at 3 p.m., and with scattered members of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th and other Connecticut regiments formed into line at the South Norwalk railroad depot. The procession was led by the 14 piece Seventeenth Regiment Band, followed by Norwalk dignitaries and a guard of honor provided by a local militia group, the Norwalk Guards.
Lt. Col. Henry Allen commanded the Volunteers, with Co. A led by Capt. J. H. Ayers and Lt. Thomas B. Weed; Co. F led by Lt. George Shaw, followed by the Volunteers from other regiments and invited Army and Naval officers and another guard of honor provided by the Burnside Guards. Next in line came the men of the Committee of Arrangements, Wheeler & Wilson’s Band from Bridgeport, three fire companies pulling a beautifully decorated steam pumper engine, a drum corps and two local fraternal organizations. The parade proceeded through South Norwalk, up West Avenue, throughNorwalk and on to the Green. The town flagpole in front of the Norwalk Hotel held a fine flag which had been imported from Bridgeport for the occasion. The line of march was decorated with flags and banners. An “immense concourse of people on foot and in carriages” followed the marchers. “Tears dropped from eyes unused to weep, as the tattered shreds of the old Seventeenth’s battle flag flaunted its eloquent story of Chancellorsville,Gettysburg and Morris Island.”
At the Green there were speeches by state Supreme Court Justice Thomas Belden Butler and General Orris S. Ferry, both Norwalk residents. [Butlerwould serve as state Chief Justice from 1870 to 1873. Ferry was a local attorney who had been elected to Congress as a republican in 1859. He was not reelected in 1861 and served as commanding officer of the Fifth Regiment of Connecticut Volunteer Infantry throughout the war. He was elected to the Senate in 1867 and served until his death in 1875.] Gen. Ferry waxed particularly eloquent, noting that 50 men from Norwalk had died in the war. “Beneath the soil of almost every battlefield of the war lie buried some of the dead of Norwalk. The triumphal arch of the Republic, spanning the continent, is their monument.” Afterward a meal was served to the soldiers and the dignitaries.
The one unpleasant note for the day came when the “boys” returned to the depot after the celebration. They had arranged for passage back to New Haven on the 8 p.m.express out of New York, but the train ran by the depot. The conductor assured Colonel Allen that a special train was coming along behind it to take the men of the 17th to New Haven. This turned out to be a lie, and the conductor later asserted that he was acting under orders from the railroad superintendent who told him not to let the soldiers get on. Part of the troops got on the midnight freight, and the remainder had to wait on the platform all night until the arrival of the 6:30 a.m. train. The townsmen were indignant over this affront and appointed a committee headed by Judge Butler to look into the matter, but no more was heard of it. Railroads were very powerful in those days, and newspapers generally were deferential towards them.
A brief note in the Gazette of August 15, 1863 stated that Brig. Gen. W. H. Noble arrived in New York by ship on Monday, August 7, 1865. The unfortunate original commanding officer of the 17th missed out on the festivities at New Haven and Norwalk. Hopefully his hometown of Bridgeport accorded him the honor he deserved for his service with the 17th and at higher levels.
Shortly before the end of the war, Henry Allen was offered a commission as a captain in the regular army, which he declined. In October, 1865 he received an appointment from Department of the Interior Secretary James Harlan as an Indian agent in the Territory of New Mexico which he also declined. On September 14, 1865, he married Frances A. (Fannie) Remington in Providence,Rhode Island, the youngest daughter of Colonel Joseph R. Remington. They had met in Florida where Col. Remington served as the wartime U.S. Marshal for the rebellious state. The marriage would be childless. They settled in Providence where Henry Allen became an agent for the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. In 1868 he was elected colonel of the United Train of Artillery, a militia organization inProvidence. He joined Slocum Post, Grand Army of the Republic in Providence and also became a Mason there.
From 1876 to 1879, Henry held a position with the Post Office in Washington, D.C. He spent 1880 inColorado, apparently doing political work on behalf of the Republican party for the elections that year. The Republican candidate, James A. Garfield, won a close election and carried the state of Colorado. No listing could be found for Henry in the 1880 census, but wife Frances was living in the home of her sister Helen R. Nichols on Cherry Hill Road in Branford, Connecticut. Henry joined her there on his return from Colorado, and resumed his position as an agent for Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, in association with his brother-in-law, John W. Nichols. In the 1884 elections, Henry was the Republican candidate for congressman in the generally Democratic second district, an unsuccessful effort against an incumbent.
After the war, the surviving men of the 17th formed the Seventeenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Veterans Association. The group met every year on August 28th, the anniversary of the regiment’s muster into federal service. Henry Allen was very active in this association, as well as being a member of the G.A.R. At the 1883 meeting, held in Fairfield, Connecticut, Henry was appointed chairman of the Memorial Tablet Committee, charged with securing funds and erecting a suitable memorial on Barlow’s Knoll at Gettysburg. The memorial, which cost $1,800, was dedicated at Gettysburg on the 21st anniversary of the battle, July 1, 1884.
General William H. Noble, as chairman of the Association’s executive committee, presided over the ceremony and Col. Allen led the contingent of veterans from the 17th in the parade from town to the Knoll. As chairman of the Memorial Tablet Committee, Col. Allen gave a speech presenting the memorial, which he described as “hewn and carved from the granite of our mother State, its adamantine solidity being emblematical of the firm loyalty of her sons,” and said, “We have caused it to be erected upon this spot to evidence the fact that twenty-one years ago, upon this great battle-field, thirty-five loyal sons of dear old Connecticut – and our gallant comrades of the Seventeenth Regiment – gave their lives for the preservation of the best and grandest government upon the face of God’s earth.” At the next reunion of the Association held in Ridgefield on August 28, 1884, Col. Allen was presented with an elegant gold badge studded with diamonds by his former comrades-in-arms. It would be his last call as a member of the 17th.
Henry Allen was too ill to attend the reunion of the 17th held in Stamford on August 28, 1885. His absence and its cause occasioned real regret among his comrades. General Noble offered a resolution of sympathy to Col. Allen and his family because of his illness. The regimental veterans also voted to attend Col. Allen’s funeral “in a body, his condition…being such that he could not live many days.” A brief article in the Norwalk Gazette of September 8, 1885 noted that Col. Henry Allen was near death from a “fatal malady.” “He is most tenderly cared for by his wife and friends at the delightful country home of his brother-in-law, Mr. John W. Nichols at Branford.” The Gazette editor, Homer Byington, and his wife Harriet had probably made a final visit to her half-brother. Though not a resident of Norwalk for many years, he was still held in very high esteem in his hometown. The Connecticut Courant (Hartford) also had a brief note regarding his failing health in its “State Personals” on September 10, 1885, an indication that he was well-known statewide.
Henry Allen died in Branford at 3 a.m.on Sunday, September 13, 1885 at the age of 43, after many weeks of suffering. The cause of death was listed as phthisis pulmonalis, a fancy name for tuberculosis. The Gazette said that his death was “directly traceable to his having been immersed in the Rappahannock River while crossing in the face of the enemy with his command on a frosty morning, and being unable to change his frozen clothing till next day.” This caused a hemorrhage of the lungs a few days later, and recurrences in varying frequency and severity until causing his death. While a romantic attribution for his death, in reality Henry Allen probably suffered from chronic tuberculosis most of his life. His mother had died of the same cause on October 28, 1883 in Norwalk. The Branford death records of the time frequently listed phthisis as a cause of death. [The more common term was consumption.] In that era, little was known about bacteria and there were no cures for the diseases they caused, including tuberculosis.
Henry Allen’s death and funeral were widely reported throughout the state. The Connecticut Courant (Hartford); the Morning News, the Morning Journal and Courier, and the Palladium of New Haven; and his hometown Gazette all carried obituaries. The Morning News article listed him as Col. Henry C. Allen, the only known use of a middle initial for him. The Gazette had the most detailed coverage (although it quoted the Palladium extensively), with separate lengthy articles on his death and funeral in successive issues. He was described as being well known, well loved and a man of many qualities. “His struggle for life was a hopeless one and yet…he remained cheerful and thoughtful of others to the last.”
The funeral, an elaborate affair, was held in Norwalk on Wednesday, September 16, 1885. His remains arrived at the South Norwalkrailroad depot about 10:30 a.m., and were met by relatives and friends and nearly 100 veterans of the Civil War, mostly from the 17th Connecticut, who marched as an escort of honor from the depot to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, located on the Green in Norwalk. It was a reprise of the march of the veterans of the 17th some 20 years earlier upon their return home from the war. The procession undoubtedly went up the main walk through the churchyard cemetery to the front door of the church, and thus would have passed the grave and monument of Lt. Col. Albert Wilcoxson just to the right of the walkway. The acting pallbearers were Gen. William Noble, Sergeant P. Wade, Capt. H.P. Burr, Sergeant C.F. Loomis, Henry Huss, Levi Dixon, Capt. Henry Quien and Sergeant Selah Blakeman. Phineas C. Lounsbury and Willis McDonald were out of town and unable to serve as pallbearers. Lounsbury, who served with the 17th briefly until discharged for disability, was a wealthy shoe manufacturer who would be elected governor of Connecticut in 1886. Other notables in attendance were former postmaster N.D. Sperry of New Haven, Judge Cowell of Waterbury, General Camp ofMiddletown and Major W. L. Hubbell of Bridgeport.
The casket was placed in front of the altar surrounded by many floral tributes, including those from the 17th Regiment Veterans Association, Slocum Post G.A.R. of Providence, and a crescent in red geraniums from Lt. William A. Kellogg representing the badge of the old Eleventh Corps. Sprays of ripened wheat, cut from the Gettysburg battle grounds near the 17th Connecticut monument were placed in the casket. The regimental flag at Gettysburg was flown at half mast for the day of the funeral. The service was read by the Rev. Howard Clapp, rector of the church, with about 400 people in attendance. Following the service, the procession escorted the casket to the Norwalk Cemetery [now known as Norwalk Union Cemetery], where Henry Allen was laid to rest in the family plot alongside his parents and younger brother James. According to the Gazette, it was by Henry’s own request that his funeral was held at St. Paul’s Church and his remains were interred in Norwalk Cemetery. The Gazette reported, “He now lies sepulchered besides his young, but veteran brother who was shot before Petersburg, by a rebel sharp shooter, only a few days prior to the surrender at Appomatox.” General Ferry (1875) and Justice Butler (1873) are also in Norwalk Cemetery, interred in locations about 100 yards away.
The Allen plot is located in the cemetery’s southwest corner, on the driveway opposite the end of Avenue B. There is an 8’ spire-type monument for Sgt. James L. Allen that has an excellent carving of crossed muskets. At one time (ca. 1935), the plot also contained five small white marble footstones inscribed: Father, Mother, Sophia, JLA and LCA. Only three now remain, those for Sophia and two that are illegible. Sophia is Henry’s sister; JLA is for brother James; and LCA is probably a misreading of HCA for Henry C. Allen. Although the cemetery sexton’s report to the town of burials in September, 1885 omits Henry Allen’s name, contemporary newspaper reports leave no doubt as to his burial location. However, it was to be but a short stay.
On October 26, 1906, his widow Frances had his remains exhumed and moved to a plot she had purchased in Branford’s Center Cemetery. Frances Allen lived in Branford until her death in 1911 and was buried next to Henry. Their plot (#152) is located in section C (southwest corner of the cemetery), adjoining that of the Nichols family. There is a large granite monument with the name Allen, and nice granite footstones for herself and Henry. He is identified as “Lieut. Col. 17, Conn. Vol’s.” Apparently his original marble footstone was left in place in Norwalk Cemetery.
Today, Henry Allen is a minor figure in Connecticut history – in fact, largely forgotten. With the passage of time his contribution to the Union cause during the Civil War has merged into the overall accomplishments of the hundreds of thousands of men who were thus engaged. His modestly successful but relatively short life after the war did not bring him fame, fortune or higher office. However, he is preeminent among the several hundred Norwalk men who fought in the Civil War, and the approximately 1000 men who served in the 17th Connecticut. He fought in three major battles, rose from private to the command of a regiment, and earned the respect of his contemporaries in the Connecticut area. It is unfortunate that the removal of his remains from Norwalk Cemetery means that he is no longer among the many distinguished citizens of Norwalk from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the more than 100 Civil War veterans including some 25 from the 17th regiment who are buried there. A piece of Norwalk’s history was taken away.
(Webmasters note: Jack’s bibliography is extensive and is not included for the sake of space. If anyone is interested in getting it please email me)