Henry Clay Allen: Civil War Service Record

By H. Allen Curran

His Military Unit

Henry Clay Allen1 served with Company A, 38th Virginia Regiment (Infantry), Pickett's Division.

In His Own Words

The following statement was dictated by Henry Clay Allen to Ora Graves Allen (his second wife), date unknown:

“My name beginning with the letter A made me the first man on the roll, and being the tallest, I was always placed on the extreme right. This position was sometimes designated as high private in the front rank.

“My captain was Daniel Townes2 of Pittsylvania Co. I took the train at Ringgold for Richmond to be drilled and trained in military tactics. Along in April (1862)3, I joined the original company in which I enlisted at Orange Court House. Being afraid that the war would be over before I arrived at the required age, I volunteered eight months before.4 Really got satisfactory experience before I was 19 and would like to have returned home and tried to get out but failed.5

“I was in the following battles:

“I was wounded in the leg on May 16, 1864, between Petersburg and Richmond, in the stampede of Five Forks, near Petersburg.7 Was in many skirmishes and did much hard marching and much shooting. I'm not absolutely sure I killed a Yankee, but killed as many of them as they did of me.”


  1. Henry Clay Allen was born on November 4, 1844, on a farm in Dry Fork, near Chatham, Pittsylvania County, Virginia. His father was James Green Allen (paternal grandfather — Welcome Allen, grandmother a Burton) and his mother was Lavicia Forest Vaiden (maternal grandfather — Sylvester Vaiden, grandmother a Chatten). James Green Allen wanted to go to the polls on November 4, 1844 to vote for Henry Clay for president, but he couldn't owing to the pending birth, so named his son after Henry Clay. Further details about Henry Clay Allen's life after the Civil war are given in an article from Men of Mark in Virginia (Tyler, 1908). Henry Clay Allen died at home on June 5, 1925 at age 80. He was survived by his wife Ora Graves Allen and her two children, Clifton Allen and Dorthen Allen (Curran), as well as a number of children from his first marriage.
  2. Captain Townes was killed at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863 in Pickett's charge.
  3. Enlisted on March 13, 1862 at Kentuck, Virginia.
  4. Was age 17 at time of enlistment.
  5. Remained in service until the end of the war on April 12, 1865.
  6. At Gettysburg, the 38th Regiment was in General Lewis A. Armistead's Brigade of Pickett's Division. During the charge of the Union positions on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863, the 38th was on the left flank of Pickett's line. In retreat, the 38th was attacked on their left flank by the 8th Ohio Infantry. About 40% of the unit's 484 officers and men were killed or wounded in the battle (see G. H. Gregory's account of the battle, 1988, pp. 42-43).
  7. There may be an error in terminology here. This action now is referred to as the battle at Drewry's Bluff (Gregory, 1988, pp. 53-54). The date given in HCA's account is correct. Gregory (1988, p. 78) also reports that HCA captured two Union soldiers during the action at Chester Station on 5/10/64.

References Cited

Prepared by:

This webpage is sponsored by Mitchells Publications and the Sims-Mitchell House B&B, Chatham, Virginia.