Wednesday, January 11, 2012

News From Fort Delaware

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

I posted this letter with the others in my collection of the Civil War letters of Henry A. Allen - a Confederate POW who was captured at Gettysburg and spent the rest of the war moving from prison to prison.

I thought I might as well go ahead and post this particular one in both places - putting it here gives me a chance to add a few of my own thoughts. This is among the most telling letters in the collection in terms of Confederate nationalism and loyalty. Written from Fort Delaware Prison on April 28, 1865 - the letter to his wife Sarah illustrates Allen's steadfast determination not to sign any loyalty oath to the United States so long as a Confederate government existed or any Confederate army was in the field. (I wonder if he knew his wife had already signed one?)

Allen was in the minority here. As he mentions, two-thirds of the officers imprisoned at Fort Delaware, and apparently all the private soldiers, had signed the oath and were returning home. Read on...and be sure to check out the rest of the collection HERE. You might get a little insight in to Allen's character and begin to understand why such a vociferous veterans' organization such as the Immortal 600 might have been appealing to him later in life.

Fort Delaware Friday April 28th 1865

Dear Dear Sarah

Yours of the 24th came to hand last evening and gave me much pleasure to again hear from those so dear to me. Your letters always come although detained for a long time but I mistake I always get your letters in three or four days after they are mailed but mine must be some time getting to you as it is always ten or twelve days before I receive an answer therefore the detention must be caused here but I suppose the authorities have so many to examine that it cannot be helped. I am still enjoying fine health and suppose have increased twelve or fifteen pounds since arriving here. Yesterday John Lewis, Weaver & John Vermillion arrived here from Point Lookout where they had been since Mch 24th. My Col, Jim Robinson & Tobe Phillips I learn are at Johnsons Island. I expected Jim and Frances would go home I suppose all from P will do the same. I am sorry to say a large majority of our officers here are taking the oath or have consulted to do so as the rolls have been called and they have responded to the call the privates have all done the same numbering between three & five thousand. We have about twenty one hundred officers here and I suppose nearly two thirds will take the oath you will no doubt see some of our Portsmouth officers home soon as several have or will take it. I do not think the time has yet arrived for one to do so it is true I can do no good myself while in prison still we have yet the shadow of a government and while we have an army in the field I cannot think it right for me to do so. I know our course in hopeless and I expect to have to take the oath still I must wait I could not bear to be censured by my friends. I may be punished but I must abide this decision. I wrote to you a few days ago as I though you had not received my letter you could have sent the box although I do not know that I would have gotten it as none here have received since President Lincoln’s death. If you send if do not fail to send the permit on it. Kiss my dear little children for me my love to all home tell Jim to write to me I have a ring for you and one for Ida & Lucy. My love to all my friends & relatives good bye yours in love


Division 35

And there you have it. Allen sees the writing on the wall to be sure - I suppose he just wants to get the timing right.



1 comment:

  1. And over 200 years later there are quite a few in the old CSA that would gladly tear up those loyalty oaths :)