William Gibbs Allen was a well-known figure in the history of Rhea County, but how many of us know anything about his brother, George? George Washington Allen was also the son of Valentine and Ann Frazier Allen. He was born in Jackson County, Alabama on December 19, 1840, and died in Arkansas in 1881. George was married to Margrate Irvin, the daughter of Captain Irvin, U.S. Marines. To this union were born three daughters and one son, named William.

According to my research, Allen joined the army on May 2, 1861, leaving Rhea County and going to Decatur. He volunteered as a private in Captain N.J. Lillard’s Company, which left Decatur the same date as George joined. Allen served as a private during that first year of the war, and was elected Lieutenant after the company was reorganized. Then, in November of 1862, George was appointed Captain and Assistant Quartermaster on the Staff of Colonel Lillard. At that particular time, Lillard was in command of the Third Tennessee Regiment. Allen was in the battles of Manassas and Seven Pines; at Morristown, Tennessee, during 1864, he was struck by a piece of shell, which is thought to have been the cause of his early death. From information obtained in the “History of Rhea County,” George rose in rank from Private to Major, and was with General Vaughn when President Davis gave the order to Vaughn to parole his men at Washington, Georgia.

George wrote a letter to his father, Valentine Allen III, and refers to Val, who would have been his brother, Valentine Allen IV. Both George and Valentine IV, along with another brother, Thomas A., were in Lillard’s Company I of the 3rd Tennessee. This letter is shown exactly as it was written in 1863, with whatever grammatical errors it might contain. Nothing has been changed, so that you, the reader, could obtain the true meaning from this document.



Dear Father:

“Val and I are well and doing finely, but I am very tired. Just returned to camp after clean clothes. I have been assigned to duty 14 miles from this place at a post. I will move Perminantly tomorrow and leave Val to tend to everything at camp. Genl Stevinson offered to send my name up for Promotion if I will take a field in Texas and along on Red River to buy and get up Supplies for the Army.

Genl Vaughn gave me a great recommendation to him in writing Genl Stevenson sent it to me this Evening. I have not decided as yet what I will do Col Neute doesn’t want me to go, that’s his advice and I don’t know what to do. Val will not help me deside he wont say wether he wants to go or not.

My health is fast improving. I am getting as fat as a bear, no more news of interest, all quiet along our lines. I will return in the morning early, Val will keep you posted on the times. Please write me Soon. You Shall hear from me Soon,”

Your Son

Geo. W. Allen

As we can see from this letter, there are many errors; however, Allen wrote with a purpose, and gave insight into life during the War Between the States. It is amazing to find records such as this which have lasted all these years in order to become part of Rhea County’s historical archives. Remember, it is necessary to study the past in order to live in the present and prepare for the future.

Pat Guffey can be reached at pat459@charter.net