Young Ebenezer Clough Allen was desperate to become a professional soldier but his parents wouldn’t let him enlist for war with Mexico in 1847. He applied to the Secretary of War in January 1848 for a spot at West Point, but was not appointed. In November 1848 he wrote President James K Polk for help. Still no luck. Persistent, he wrote the President again in February 1849 – an emotional and sincere 3 page missive asking for a direct appointment to the Academy.

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There’s no response from the President in the file in the US Archives with his letter, but you’ll not be surprised to know the result was the same: no appointment.

The next year Ebenezer enlisted as a Private in the 3rd United States Infantry. He continued in the Army with some success to 1862, by which time he was First Sergeant of Company A, First Battalion, 12th United States Infantry. He was appointed 2nd Lieutenant of his Company in June 1862.

Lieutenant Allen commanded Company A in action at Antietam on 17 September 1862 and was with them at Fredericksburg in December, was promoted to First Lieutenant in January 1863, and was at Chancellorsville in May. He was afterward ill, and died of small pox in December 1863 after 13 years as a professional soldier.

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