The Civil War Saga of Eleazer Allen and Elizabeth Gillispie of Hebron
by Carl A. Weaver, Jr.
Although this article contains mostly information
about Eleazer Allenís Civil War experiences after leaving Washington County, New York,
†it does contain several genealogical
references of note. Be sure to read my Endnotes for genealogical details and
††††††††††† I do not
know where or when my great, great grandfather, Eleazer Allen, was born, but I
know he was living in Hebron, Washington
County, New York
when he married 21-year-old Elizabeth Gillispie on the 4th day of November
sister, Margaret M. Nelson, and James Gourlay, an Allen family friend,
witnessed as William A. Miller, a Minister of the Gospel from Granville,
performed the ceremony.
It was the first marriage for
Elizabeth who liked to be called Betsey and the second for marriage for
Eleazer. He and his first wife, Lucy, who died in 1846 at the age of 36, had at
least two children. Their baby, Lucy Allen, was born about 1834 and her sister,
Mary Ann Allen, was born about 1837. Eleazer married Betsey late the same year
that his first wife died. It was nearly three years later that he and Betsey
had their first child, Charles, who was born in Hebron on the 23rd day of May, 1849.
An 1850 government census document
shows that Eleazer and Betsey were living next door to his father, Charles
Allen, a 76-year-old farmer born in Connecticut.
An interesting fact about the 1850 census was that the agent taking the survey
listed two Marys as members of Charlesí household even thought there was only
one. The first was Eleazerís mother and the second was a 13-year old named Mary
Ann. The columns next to Mary Annís name in this line entry were curiously left
blank. When the agent went next door to Eleazerís home, Mary Ann arrived there
before him and was once again counted. This time, however, the agent filled in
all the columns and tallied Eleazer's teenage daughter as having attended
school that year. Canít you imagine the excitement the 13-year-old prankster
felt as she ran through the back yards to her own house to try to fool the
agent? Shortly after the census of 1850, Eleazerís mother died. In January of
the next year, Eleazerís daughter Lucy by his first wife, died at the age of 17.
Gourlay, Betsey and Eleazerís
second child, was born in Hebron
on the 1st of February 1852.
He was named after James Gourlay who witnessed their wedding. The following
year, Eleazerís father, Charles, died. He is buried in the BelcherMethodistCemetery next to his wife
Mary, granddaughter Lucy, and daughter-in-law Lucy.
††††††††††† There is a
gap in the family history until the government census of 1860. At this time,
Eleazer and Betsey were no longer in Hebron.
It is unlikely that anyone will ever know why Eleazer Allen left the relative
security of the family home in New York, but sometime before 1860, he moved his
wife, two sons and daughter, Mary Ann by his previous marriage, to Erie,
Pennsylvania. There is some indication that they moved by mule-towed barge on
the Erie Canal, which had increased passenger service as railroads took over
the movement of freight. A trip overland to Albany could have been made in a day. The
canal trip from Albany to Buffalo
would have taken about 15 days followed by another two overland or by boat to Erie. No one seems to know
why Eleazer was in Erie
or how he made his living there.
††††††††††† The 1860
government census for Erie
recorded Eleazerís age as 50, which was not correct, as other government
records will show later. His exact age is not important. What is important is
the fact that he is an elderly man for the time and what happened next started
a strange series of events for the Allen family. Eleazer and his family lived
in Erie less
than two years when he answered a call to arms after the start of the Civil
War. He voluntarily joined Company K of the 145th Infantry Regiment,
Pennsylvania Volunteers. For his three-year enlistment or until the end of the
war, Pvt. Allen received a bonus of $25 and an additional $2 for being over the
age of 45. There was no way that Private Allen could have known at the time,
but the 145th Regiment was destined to face extreme hardship in battle.
††††††††††† Hiram L.
Brown, an Erie
innkeeper, was elected Colonel of the 145th Regiment based on his previous service
in the Union Army with the 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteers. Another election
resulted in David B. McCreary, an Erie
lawyer and educator, becoming the regimentís lieutenant colonel. Eleazerís fate
was sealed with this second election.
††††††††††† Nine of the
regimentís ten companies mustered into service on the 5th of September 1862. Company K, the unit
to which Pvt. Allen volunteered, had not yet completed its recruiting when the
rest of the regiment was put into service. On September 10th, the Governor of
Pennsylvania unexpectedly ordered the 145th Infantry Regiment to the front.
Without delay, the regiment departed the next day without the under strength
Company K. Since its departure occurred so quickly on the heels of muster, the
145th Regiment left Erie
without weapons or equipment. After a circuitous 36-hour train ride to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania,
the infantrymen were issued old 69 caliber muskets and leather gear. Tents and
other equipment were unavailable at the time. Company K eventually filled its
ranks and mustered into service two days later on the 12th of September.
Eleazer was now a bona fide soldier.
Captain John W. Walker, the
commander of Company K, his new recruits without weapons and gear, and the
regimental chaplain departed Erie
by train on September 15th. Pvt. Allen was nearly 50 years old when he went off
to war with Company K. Two days later on the 17th, the 1st Brigade Commander
ordered the regiment, including Company K, to picket duty on the Chesapeake and OhioCanal where they saw no
action. Shortly thereafter, the men of the 145th found themselves with the
gruesome task of burying the dead from the battle of Antietam,
which took several days to accomplish.
arrived with the regiment located at StaffordHeights opposite Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Company K formed its winter camp in the vicinity of nearby Falmouth. The individual training of
infantrymen and small units continued as it had since leaving Erie. Despite two months of training, very
few of the men of the 145th Regiment achieved a state of readiness necessary
for the event about to take place.
Late on the afternoon of December 12th 1862,
Company K and seven other companies of the Regiment crossed the RappahannockRiver on the upper pontoon bridge
erected by the 7th Michigan Engineers. Once across, they spent the night in
line on Front Street
(now named Sophia) parallel to the river. In darkness the next morning, they
formed a line of battle on B
Street (once called Main Street and now named Caroline) with
its right resting near the courthouse. Company K formed in front of Lt. Mauryís
house near the Catholic Church and with the order to advance promptly led the
1st Division on the attack on Maryeís Heights. Confederate artillery on a
nearby ridge placed devastating shell bursts onto their ranks. Sometime after
dawn on December 13th, the 145th began its fight up Hanover Street toward the stone wall that
lay before them at Sunken Road.
Sometime before , the
145th broke ranks and withdrew to the second line of attack behind the Pennsylvania 116th.
By the end of the day, the regiment
recorded 91 killed or died of their wounds, 152 wounded and 43 captured or
listed as missing. Despite the 145th Infantry Regimentís losses, Brigadier John
C. Caldwell stated: ďThe regiments, however, all behaved with the greatest
gallantry and fought with steadiness, except the 145th Pennsylvania, which broke and fell back, its
colonel being severely wounded.Ē† It is
not known if this statement constituted praise, or was a jab at the regiment's
lack of success.
On December 15th, two days after
the battle, the 145th Regiment withdrew across the river. Three days after
that, Company K returned to its winter camp near Falmouth. Because Colonel Hiram Brown
received severe wounds and became incapable of continuing his duties,
Lieutenant Colonel David B. McCreary became the acting regimental commander.
††††††††††† In May of
1863, the 145th Regiment maneuvered from Falmouth
toward Chancellorsville, west of Fredericksburg
and the men were ready to redeem themselves. Again, the fortunes of war did not
favor the men of the 145th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. On Sunday morning,
May 3rd, LtCol David B. McCreary took a detail of 166 men from the 145th and
other nearby regiments to perform picket duty. Pvt. Eleazer Allen and other
members of Company K were among those chosen. Unfortunately, while they held
their position on the picket line, LtCol McCreary and his detail were unaware
that the division had withdrawn around
in the morning. About ,
a Confederate officer stepped from behind a tree and demanded that LtCol
McCreary and his men surrender. When McCreary refused, the officer in gray told
him of his situation. Resistance was useless and 113 Union soldiers, including
seven officers, were taken prisoner. Pvt. Eleazer Allen of Company K and LtCol
McCreary were among those captured. Approximately 50 men made it back to
friendly positions while three were reported missing.
††††††††††† From this
moment on, Pvt. Eleazer Allenís story does not parallel that of the 145th
Infantry Regiment, although he remained on unit rolls until the regiment
mustered out of service in May of 1865. A description of Pvt. Allenís journey
from Chancellorsville to Libby Prison in Richmond,
Virginia, is relayed by
Lieutenant Clay MacCauleyís (126th Pennsylvania Infantry) account of his own
capture in the same area on the same day. Most Union prisoners captured on May
3rd were taken to Richmond
in a large group.
marched from various points in the Chancellorsville
area to the vicinity of Spotsylvania Courthouse where they were consolidated.
After spending the night, they were marched to a low meadow one-mile from
Guiney Station south of Fredericksburg.
They remained confined with no food or protection from a heavy, three-day
storm. The Confederates could not give what they did not have. At Guiney
Station, many prisoners were transported to Richmond by rail. On May 7th, a large group,
including Pvt. Allen, marched through Bowling
Green. They were on the way to Milford Station where
they waded across the MattaponyRiver. The next day, they
made it to Hanover Station where they were fed five medium crackers and an
ounce of bacon. On the 9th of May, they were escorted through the earthworks
The closely guarded prisoners were marched as a group through the main part of
the city, past the capitol and jeering citizens. Some were led directly to
Belle Island Prison Camp on the southeast side of the city. The others,
including Pvt. Allen, were marched to Libby Prison, a group of three connected
warehouses on the waterfront that had once stored items for a ship chandler and
grocer. Pvt. Allen processed into confinement at Libby Prison on Saturday the
9th of May.
Pvt. Allen did not spend much time
in Libby Prison because at that time, the facility primarily confined officers.
Also, captured soldiers routinely accepted parole for future prisoner
exchanges, a process being exercised by both the Union
and Confederate armies early in the war. On May 15th, only six days after
arriving at Libby Prison, Pvt. Allen signed a parole certificate swearing that
he would not take up arms against the Confederacy until he became a properly
exchanged prisoner. In a matter of hours, Pvt. Allen found himself paroled and
on a Union steamer sailing from City Point, Virginia to FortMonroe (Old Point Comfort), and then
on to Annapolis, Maryland.
Little is known about Pvt. Eleazer
Allenís time at CampParole near Annapolis.
However, in one letter from his wife, Betsey, to the Hospital Steward, she stated
that her husband had been "working 14 days on the barracks and had not
been paid for his labor." Since CampParole was a relatively
new facility, Pvt. Allen probably worked on new buildings to house arriving
parolees. On the other hand, a facility at Saint
(College Green) in Annapolis,
also called the Barracks, served to process parolees when they first arrived.
One significant milestone in Pvt. Allenís life while at CampParole
was that his son Frank was born on June 27th.
While Pvt. Allen was a paroled
prisoner, the 145th Regiment finally had an opportunity to redeem itself in
battle. Moving north in June of 1863, the regiment marched last in the 2nd
Corpsí line as they arrived at Gettysburg
late in the evening of July 1st. The regiment engaged the enemy in the
Wheatfield and nearby Rose Woods with the mission to hold the most advanced
position of Brookeís brigade. The regiment entered the battle for Gettysburg with a little
over 200 men and suffered a casualty rate of 44 percent. This time, no question
arose as to the valor of the 145th in battle.
The 145th Regiment once again
late in the summer of 1863 and engaged the Confederates at Bristoe Station.
Around that time in the middle of August, Pvt. Allen became seriously ill and
reported to the CampParoleHospital
on August 20th. †††††††† He died from
Typhoid Fever four weeks later on September 14th and was buried in nearby AshgroveCemetery on the same day. He knew little
of the exploits of his regiment and he never saw his newborn baby, his fifth
child and third son of his marriage to Betsey Gillispie.
After Pvt. Allen's death, the 145th
Regiment engaged the enemy at Mine Run in November and December. It was during
this time frame, LtCol David McCreary, earlier captured with Pvt. Allen at Chancellorsville, accepted parole and took part in a
prisoner exchange. He returned to duty with the 145th Regiment while they were
in their winter camp near Germania Ford, Virginia. One of his first duties upon
returning was to send small detachments of the 145th Regiment to Pennsylvania in hopes of
recruiting men into their depleted ranks. As a result of this recruiting, the
regiment gained in strength to more than 700 by the spring of 1864.
Nevertheless, bad luck caught up with the regiment again when it suffered 166
casualties near Spotsylvania Court House in May.†
While near Petersburg, Virginia
a month later, LtCol McCreary suffered capture a second time along with 111
other men of the regiment. The rest of the 145th spent the summer in trench
warfare around the besieged city. By the fall of 1864, all of the senior
officers of the 145th were either killed or captured. Command of the regiment
passed to company grade officers. In January, a few months before the end of
the war, a mere 156 officers and men remained in the ranks of the 145th. The
regiment saw no further action before the Confederate surrender at Appomattox
Courthouse on April 9th, 1865.
One month later in May, the 145th
participated in the grand review in WashingtonDC celebrating the end of the
war. They mustered out of service on May 31st near Alexandria, Virginia.
On June 5th, the volunteers were welcomed in Erie by local politicians, held its last
parade, and heard the sound of dismissal for the last time. In 1889, nearly 25
years after the war, survivors of the regiment dedicated a large stone monument
topped with a bronze infantryman to the memory of the 145th Pennsylvania
Volunteer Infantry. One of the dedication speakers that day was Brevet
Brigadier General David. B. McCreary. The monument dedicated more than 110
years ago can be seen today on Brooke
Avenue at the Gettysburg National Battlefield.
Betsey Allen remained in Erie for 34 years after the war and never returned home to
Following Eleazerís death, she corresponded with the Army and in 1864, began to
receive a $12 government pension that remained in effect until she died in
1905. Betsey is buried in Buffalo,
New York, where she moved in
1899. Each of Eleazer Allenís four children lived long lives and died of old
age. The three boys had successful careers with the railroad where two were
locomotive engineers. Charles, the eldest child of Betsey and Eleazer, is my
Grandmother Charlotteís father.
Today, the section of AshgroveCemetery
in which Pvt. Eleazer Allen and other Civil War casualties are buried is known
as the AnnapolisNationalCemetery.
It was one of the first to become part of the National Cemetery System
Gettysburg Address. Due to a spelling mistake made by a Company K morning
report clerk late in 1864, Pvt. Allenís name is spelled Eleaser on his
government issued gravestone. As shown in the Sextonís records, Private Allen
rests in plot 2002 located near the center, at the back of the grounds.
Unfortunately for historians and us
descendants, no regimental history of the 145th was ever compiled. None of the
regimentís survivors wrote best selling memoirs. The 145th Pennsylvania
Volunteer Infantry Regiment simply fell into obscurity and none of its members
attained national prominence nor became national heroes after the war.
Nevertheless, my great, great grandfather is a hero in my eyes. Private Eleazer
Allen was a brave and dedicated infantryman, who at the age of 48, left the
comfort of his home to fight for values in which he believed, became a POW and
died without ever seeing his home or family again.
Authorís end notes:
1.Unfortunately, the Allen line discussed here is not
included in the Allen Family Records and Genealogy, compiled by J. Montgomery
Seaver and published by the American Historical-Genealogical Society and the
Clearfield Company. It is suspected, however, that Charles Allen may be a
descendant of James Allen, the progenitor of the Allen Family of Medfield, who
came to America with his
wife Anna in 1639 and settled in Dedham,
Massachusetts. This supposition
is because Eleazer is a rare name, but shows up at least 4 times in this line.
A record of this particular Allen line fades with Eleazer Allen Jr., who by his
wife Sibil had Eleazer who married Rebecca Mason about 1763.
2.Gillispie is the correct spelling. (Source is a copy of
Betseyís Marriage Certificate.) It is often misspelled as Gillespie in WashingtonCounty records including the death
record of her father, Richard, who is interred in the Old Belcher Yard,
Belcher, Washington County,
3.Elizabeth Gillispie nicknamed herself after her
childhood best friend Betsey Gourlay, the first wife of James, who died at age
4.The 1820 government census of Hebron shows Charles Allen with 6 children, 3
girls and 3 boys. It shows 8 in the household including parents.
5.1830 census of Hebron
generally shows the same information as item 3 above.
6.1840 census of Hebron
shows Charles and Eleazer Allen in separate households, but on consecutive
pages, which means that they probably lived nearby.
7.1850 census of Hebron
shows Charles Allen born in Connecticut and
all others in his family born in New
Both Charles and Eleazer Allen are listed as farmers. Charles Allen is shown to
have owned $3000 worth of real property at the time.
census entry for Eleazer Allenís household listed 21-year-old Margaret
Gillispie, Betseyís sister (later Margaret M. Nelson). The census also listed a
14-year-old male named Harrison whose last
name is not readable. All were recorded as having been born in New YorkState.
9.The Allen family burial plot in Washington
County, New York is in the BelcherMethodistCemetery.
10.A post Civil War city directory shows that the Allen
family friend, James Gourlay, was in Erie
at the time. It is interesting to note that James is not buried with his two
wives and the rest of his family in the Old Belcher Yard in Hebron.
11.When the author first moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia,
he rented a house on Hanover
Street, less than 100 yards from the stone wall at
Maryeís Heights and on the battle path of the 145th Regiment. The house sits at
the approximate point where the 145th Regiment broke ranks and withdrew.
12.Two members of the 145th Regiment, Robert Morehead and
Francis Menold, scrawled their names on a wall of OldSalemChurch
between Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
The signatures still exist.
LtCol McCreary along with men from Companies B (4), E (32), F (2), G (20), H
(26), and K (23) were surrounded and taken prisoner when they failed to receive
the order to fall back. LtCol Willis Holt, 10th Georgia, McLaw's Division, sent a
messenger, Lt Bailey, to inform the Yankees that they were surrounded and
inviting them to surrender.
14.Company K captured soldiers included: Lt Devereaux;
Sgts. SV Dean, A Armstrong; Cpl. S. Krollman; Pvts. E Allen, W Constable, J
Dulin, F Drescher, AF Ennis, H Halderman, H Hublerm, A Ferry, F Lindon, J
Miller, C Mackworth, N Northrop, D Roister, F Rauff, J Smith, JE Statton, ML
Stover, J Tucker, and J Young.
15.The house in which General Stonewall Jackson lay dying
is one-quarter mile from Guiney Station where Pvt. Allen and other prisoners
were held for two days.
16.The prisoners at Guiney Station who did not march to Richmond via Bowling Green
were loaded into small, poorly maintained railroad boxcars. After a night of
shunting, which seemed to them like they were on their way, the prisoners
discovered that they had not left Guiney. Finally, after more waiting, the
train departed about
on Friday, arriving in Richmond
around on May 8th.
17.The Union steamboat that carried Pvt. Allen from City
Point to Annapolis stopped at FortMonroe,
where the author once lived as a boy. According to maritime records, the boat
was probably named New York.
18.Eleazer Allenís original military file and medical
records (including a death certificate) along with Betsey Allenís original
pension file (including her marriage certificate) are stored in the National
Archives and are available to researchers for study. Similar records exist for
other Union veterans.
19.Information about the movements of the 145th
Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment is available in the National Archives,
as are records for other Civil War units.
20.Specific movements of the 145th Pennsylvania Volunteer
Infantry Regiment in the battles of Fredericksburg
and Chancellorsville can be followed on two
series of US Park Service Maps available at either park's gift shop.
21.The movements of Union prisoners from Chancellorsville
to Libby Prison in Richmond
are detailed in the Diary of Reverend Clay MacCauley, From Chancellorsville to
Libby Prison, reprinted in the 126th Pennsylvania Regimental History, pp.
146-154. Both Clay MacCauley and Eleazer Allen were in the same group of Union
22.No official record of the 145th Pennsylvania Volunteer
Infantry exists. D.W. Winchester, the Regimental Quartermaster, began a history
of the unit in the early 1900s. He died before it was completed and then his
house burned to the ground two weeks later destroying all of the original
research, letters and documents that had been sent to him. This event accounts
for the current lack of documentation on the Regiment. Nevertheless, quite a
bit of information about the Regiment has been uncovered recently and a second
attempt at a unit history is in progress by Dr. Verel Salmon whose great-great
grandfather was Sergeant George Washington Salmon of the 145th PVI Regiment. Dr
Salmon may be contacted at 5515
Perkins Street, Erie, PA16509-1853.
23.The Diary of John H. W. Stuckenberg, Chaplain of the
regiment, who mustered and departed Erie with
Company K, has been thoroughly researched, annotated, and compiled by David T.
Hedrick and Gordon Barry Davis, Jr. into the book, Iím Surrounded by
Methodists, Thomas Publications, Gettysburg,
Pennsylvania, 1995. This detailed
account serves as the only regimental history since none was ever composed. The
140-page paperback with photographs costs $17.00. According to one of the
authors, consideration is being given to reissue a revised version of the book
as the publisher omitted many important details.
24.Information about Pvt. Eleazer Allen's interment may be
viewed at the Annapolis National Cemetery Site at: http://www.navpooh.com/oldindex.html
While at this site, be sure to open the "Please Remember MeÖ" window.
25.One source of information is the History of the
Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865, by Samuel P. Bates. This definitive work on
the Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiments is comprised of 5 volumes, and was
originally published from 1869-1871, by B. Singerly, State Printer, Harrisburg, PA.
A reprinted copy including a new index of more than 300,000 entries costs about
$ 700.00. Check your local large library for an inter library loan from a Pennsylvania
26.History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865, by
Samuel P. Bates contains a transcript of Brevet Brigadier General David. B.
McCreary's speech, given at the dedication of his regiment's monument at the
Gettysburg National Battlefield in 1889.