About William Wirt Allen
William Wirt Allen (September 11, 1835 – November 21, 1894) was a major general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He rose through the ranks to command the Cavalry Corps of the Army of Tennessee in the last days of the war.
Early life and career
William W. Allen was born in Montgomery, Alabama, to a prominent planter, Wade Hampton Allen, who had moved to the state from South Carolina in 1818. His mother, Eliza Sayre, was a native of Franklin County, Ohio. Young Allen was educated in the city's schools before entering Princeton College in New Jersey. After graduation in 1854, he studied law, but chose instead to return to plantation life. On August 13, 1857, in Montgomery, he married Susan P. Ball (1840–1915), and they raised eleven children.
Civil War service
After Alabama passed its Ordinance of Secession and Fort Sumter was fired upon, Allen enlisted in the newly raised Confederate army and was elected as a lieutenant in Company A, Montgomery Mounted Rifles. The following year, when the state organized the 1st Alabama Cavalry, Allen became its first major on March 18, 1862, and saw action at the Battle of Shiloh in April along the Tennessee River. He was subsequently promoted to colonel of the regiment before the Kentucky Campaign, and led the 1st Alabama Cavalry at the Battle of Perryville, where he received a slight wound. Later that year, he was severely wounded in the Battle of Murfreesboro while in command of a brigade.
Out of action for several months while recuperating, Allen returned to field duty in early 1864. On February 26 of that year, he was promoted to brigadier general and took command of a brigade of cavalry at Dalton, Georgia. His brigade was composed of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 9th, 12th, and 51st Alabama Cavalry regiments, and they served in the corps of Joseph Wheeler in the Army of Tennessee. Allen led the brigade throughout the Alabama Campaign. In August, a Georgia cavalry brigade was added to Allen's force, and later, Anderson's Brigade. Allen, now in charge of a full division, participated in the Atlanta Campaign in the summer, as well as contesting Sherman's March to the Sea.
In early 1865, Allen's Division fought in the Carolinas Campaign, during which President Jefferson Davis appointed him as a major general. Allen and his men surrendered at Salisbury, North Carolina, on May 3.
Allen returned home to Alabama and resumed his agricultural pursuits. He was also involved in the railroad industry and later served as the state's Adjutant General during the administration of President Grover Cleveland. He also was for a time a United States Marshal. Allen helped found and organize the Confederate Survivors Association of Montgomery. His bullet-holed uniform coat and his battle-flag are buried in the cornerstone of the Confederate monument in Montgomery.
In 1893, William W. Allen moved to Sheffield, Alabama, where he died. He is buried in Birmingham's Elmwood Cemetery.
The Maj. Gen. William Wirt Allen, Chapter 199, of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars is named in his honor and memory.