Lemuel Allen

Lemuel Allen enlisted as a Sergeant in Company G of the Fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry on June 20, 1861, at Adrian, Michigan. He was mustered into Federal service on the same date. Lemuel was wounded in action at Gaines’ Mill, Virginia on June 27, 1862 and died as a result of those wounds the following day in Richmond, Virginia.  Lemuel was from Tecumseh, Michigan.

The following transcript was provided courtesy of the Tecumseh Historical Museum.

Camp Mansfield, Washington [D. C.]

[Undated, but approximately July 10, 1861]

On the grounds of the old John Quincy Adams estate.

Dear Brother and sister,

Here I am a way down in Washington, encamped on the heights overlooking the whole city. From our camp you can count the encampments of over twenty-thousand soldiers. We arrived here about 2 o’clock in the morning of [the] 2nd of July, all safe and sound. In the morning of the 3rd, we marched about two miles north of the city to our present camp, a beautiful place commanding a view of the country for 10 or 15 miles in every direction. Directly in front of our camp stands the President’s house, about 1 1/2 miles from us. It stands in the middle of a street running right from our camp, the same as Stacy’s house appears when going out of Tecumseh. With a spy glass we can see the President sometimes standing in the door. I had the 4th of July to myself and I employed myself pretty industriously in sight-seeing, I tell you. I went all through the Capital, the Patent Office,  the “White House”, and all the places of note in the city. [I] saw Gen. Scott, Old Abe, and all the Cabinet officers, Colonel John c. Fremont, Breckenridge, and a score of other great men and had the honor of shaking hands with “Honest Old Abe”. I tell you Aaron, the people here almost worship Gen. Scott and the President. In the forenoon there was a Grand Review of the New York troops stationed about Washington. About twenty three thousand in number, and it was a grand sight and no mistake.

It is stated that there are nearly, or quite, 80 thousand troops within 2 hrs. march of the city. The Rebels will have a good time taking Washington at that rate. And regiments are coming in every day. We have Picket Guards stationed for twenty miles in every direction from the city, and no move can be made by the Secessionists without it being known by our troops. You hear much more about the war at home than we do here. People appear to be unconcerned about it here as if there was nothing going on, and no one has any doubts as to the results of it.

It would make your eyes stick out to see some of the big guns lying about here. We marched over to the Arsenal the other day and got our arms. There are three or four immense buildings, all filled with all sorts of instruments of destruction, rifles of all varieties, muskets, swords, pistols, shot and shell, great cannon balls weighing from 10 to 128 pounds, and the grounds around them [are] covered with cannon. Some of them [are] almost large enough for a man to sleep in, and all in order, ready to be used at a moment’s notice. The Arsenal stands on the bank of the Potomac River, 1 1/2 miles from the city, guarded by 2 or 3 regiments of troops, and 8 or 10 immense cannon that can sweep the river for 4 miles completely.

On the afternoon of the 4th of July, I went down and across the river to Alexandria, Virginia, so long the headquarters of the Virginia Rebels. [I] went to the camp of the Michigan 1st Regt. and the Ellsworth Zouaves encamped on Arlington Heights, about a mile from the city. [I] visited the house where Ellsworth was shot as he was tearing down the Secession flag from the roof. [I] saw the bullet holes in the ceiling from some of the shots that were fired at him and cut a piece from the stairs where he fell, and a piece of the bed tick on which he died. I will send you a small piece of each. the whole stairs were cut up and carried away by visitors as mementos.

My health has been first rate ever since I left home till the last day or two, when I, and almost everyone in the regiment was taken with a diarrhea from drinking the soft water we have here. We shall probably stay here some time yet, unless something comes up.

Lemuel Allen

There is some talk of our being kept in the city, in the Capital grounds to guard them during the sitting of Congress. Also, [there’s talk of] some of our [men] being placed at the Navy Yard. Nothing is known yet as to our destination. They seem to think that Michigan Boys are about right. Answer this letter as soon as you can as anything from home seems awful good nowadays.

Direct to Co. G 4th Regt. Michigan Volunteers, Washington

Give my love to Ethan, tell him he had better come down and enlist. Love to all inquiring friends, Good Bye, Lem Allen

The following transcript was provided courtesy of the Tecumseh Historical Museum.

Camp Mansfield, Washington D. C.
July 30th 1861

Dear Sister,

Since writing to you last we have been having some pretty warm times out here. When I wrote last we were just preparing to march into Virginia. We started as we expected to. After a long weary march, we arrived at Fairfax Court House, Va., where it was expected that we should have a pretty good fight with the rebels. But the cowardly Devils ran before we got [with]in six miles of them — they won’t fight though they outnumber us 2 or 3 to 1 — and we were left in quiet possession of the place.

Last Thursday afternoon we started from Fairfax towards Manassas Junction where the main portion of the Southern army was stationed under Generals Beauregard & Davis, and where they had determined to make a stand. It is known that there were 80 thousand rebels there, and reinforcements were arriving daily. The division of the army that we were with numbered about 30 thousand and it was expected that 2 other divisions were to come in from different directions and meet this division there.

We (our regiment) got within 5 or 6 miles of there when we were met by a messenger bringing the news that our regiment was ordered back to Fairfax court House. Then you had better believe there was some tall swearing done, But it was no use, we had to go back. The rest of the division marched on to Bulls Run, a few miles this side of Manassas where the enemy had thrown up heavy entrenchment’s and were there in full force to meet them. Here our forces were to remain until the other divisions joined them. There was some little skirmishing between the two armies each day, but no general engagement until Sunday morning when Gen. McDowell, the Gen. of our division [and] contrary to orders, begun the fight without waiting for the other 2 divisions to come up. The fight raged all day Sunday and I tell you, it was an awful battle. We were within about 8 miles of the fight and the roar of the cannons fairly shook the ground where we stood. Our men chafed like caged lions to be in the fight but it was feared that if we left Fairfax, it might be taken by some straggling bands of Rebels, and thus being on both sides of our troops gave us particular fits.

Our troops fought like tigers all day and were steadily driving the secessionists from their positions, had taken a number of their batteries, and driving them over 4 miles from where they were first entrenched, but the enemy kept receiving reinforcements all day and it was impossible for 30 thousand men — be they ever so brave — to contend against three times their number on their own ground.

The Rebels have been concentrating at that place for two months and they had it very strongly fortified, and the roads leading to it all guarded by masked batteries, and our troops were marched right upon them frequently, before aware of their presence, then they were opened upon them and they were mowed down like grass before the scythe. Still they fought bravely on until they saw that further effort was but suicide. Then the order was given to retreat. If the other divisions had only arrived in time, the whole southern army would have fallen into our hands.

The Rebels fought for dear life. They well knew if they lost there, they lost all hope in this part of the country, and they were as barbarous & cruel as the Indians ever thought of being. After the battle was over and our poor worn out soldiers were flying in disorder from the field, they were cut down by these hell hounds without mercy and I hear an Officer swear that he saw numbers of them pass along & run bayonets through our wounded soldiers as they lay bleeding & helpless on the field. But never mind, a fearful day of reckoning is in store for them. Soldiers are pouring into the city by thousands and soon an army of 200 thousand men will march into Virginia to avenge the death of their brothers. And then lookout for an earthquake. If that is their style of fighting, they can have it to their hearts content.

About two o’clock Monday morning we started from Fairfax on a retreat to Washington as it was expected that the enemy’s Cavalry would be down upon us before daylight and I guess it was well for us that we did for the next morning Fairfax was occupied by 10,000 Rebels. And we would have fared rather poorly in their hands.

We are back now to Camp Mansfield, Washington. When we move again is unknown. Perhaps in a week, perhaps not in a month. Our troops will not start into Virginia again until Gen. Scott knows they are all ready, then we shall make a clean sweep.

I am well and in good spirits, and have been every since I have been here.

The boys in killed, wounded and missing of our troops was about 540.

Why don’t you write to me, this makes three letters I have written to you and I have received none from you yet. If you knew how a letter from home is prized by us poor soldiers, you would write often, I know you would.

We are having pretty warm weather here now but no hotter than I have often seen in Michigan. How does my garden get along? Are you living in Mrs. Patchin’s house yet? Now write to me, won’t you often. If you don’t, I am afraid I shall forget that I have any such sister.

Give my love to Ethan & Helen’s folks and to all inquiring friends. Kiss Addie for me. I will write if we move from here again.

All letters must come here first. Be sure and put on the whole direction. Co. G 4th Regiment, Michigan Infantry.

Good-bye — Lem Allen

The following transcript was provided courtesy of the Tecumseh Historical Museum.

Fort Woodbury, Va
Sept 28th [1861]

Dear Sisters,

It is a long time since I have had a letter from you.

I heard by way of Fred Deuel (Sergeant) that Elvira was sick and that you had gone out there & I hardly know whether to send this to Tecumseh or to Reading. I think I will send it to Tecumseh.

Enclosed you will find forty dollars — “please give me credit for it.” I would have sent you ten or fifteen dollars more, but I thought that I ought to pay Dick Ford first. I sent him 30 dollars a day or two ago. I will send you some more next pay day. –“(The 1st of Nov.)”

How do you get along living alone, do you get lonesome sometimes? If I were you, I would spend the pleasant weather of the fall visiting, go out to Oristan’s and see “Sib,” and to Dave Longs and try and enjoy myself as well as I could. They would be glad to have you come, I know, and then when it gets bad weather, I would get some comfortable room, and keep house. I am going to write to Reese’s folks next week. I ought to have done it before. I have been very negligent about writing since I came out here, I must confess. I would keep putting it off from day to day thinking that something would be done, so that I could write news.

We are encamped just across the river from Washington, about 4 miles distant on the Virginia side. Everything is quiet here, very extensive preparations have been made to meet the threatened attack on Washington that the Rebels have been blowing about so long. But they don’t seem inclined to take it just yet. They might as well attempt to storm the gates of H–L as to make an attack of Washington, there is a line of forts, over 12 miles in length, guarding the approaches to the City.

There has been some talk of our going to North Carolina, but I think it highly probably that we shall remain here through the winter, if the war lasts so long, as least I think this will be our headquarters. We may be called to different points, as we are needed, but I think this will be our “home” for the winter. We are encamped in a beautiful place, over looking the Capital, and the Potomac River is stretched out between us and the city, covered at all times with steamers and sailboats and occasionally a big man-of-war looms up among the smaller craft.

I was sick about ten days — and pretty sick too. I never was so poor in my life as I was after it, something like intermittent fever, the Doctor said. I am well again now, and fast regaining my flesh. Have an awful appetite and we have plenty of good hearty victuals to satisfy it. I never felt better in my life.

We have great times on picket, do you know what “PICKET” means? It is a body of men sent out to watch the movements of the enemy, and give the alarm in case an advance is made. Our pickets go out about 5 miles from here and within half mile of the Rebels’ pickets and not more than 2 miles from a large camp of the Rebels.

There has been a good deal of skirmishing between the pickets and quite a number killed on both sides. Three men have been shot out of our regiment, one from our company, only one was killed. At one point the “Secesh” occupy a house through the night and our men through the day. I have been out a number of times. Am going again tomorrow and stay out two days. The whole regiment goes tomorrow. The last time I was out, we were so near the Rebel camp that we could hear a band playing & we could recognize “Dixies Land” among the tunes. I think the war will be over before spring and all of us (that live) at home.

Great preparations are making for some movement. No one knows what except those who have the management of affairs. The Rebels seem to have every thing their own way at present, but when everything is ready, they will have to scratch.

Wednesday, Oct 2nd, Since writing the above, we have been having pretty lively times here. Saturday evening before I finished this letter we were ordered to get ready to march, as soon as possible. About eight or ten thousand troops were put in motion and were up and took “Munson’s Hill” & “Falls Church” — two strong Rebel points. The Rebels all left on our approach and both places were taken without firing a shot. We have been encamped in the woods near Falls Church since Saturday, slept on the ground, cooked out meat on a stick over the fire and had soldiers fare throughout.

I came over to the old camp today and I thought I would finish this letter and send it off before we are ordered off somewhere out of reach of mails. Write as soon as you receive this, so that I may know that it goes safe.

Our things are being moved over today to where the Regiment is stationed, so I think we shall probably encamp there for a time, I don’t know how long, but direct your letters to Washington as usual — Co. G, 4th Regt. Michigan Volunteers. Give my love to all inquiring friends, and remember your brother.

Lem Allen, Good Bye.