Disabled Dragoon Officers

Capt. James Allen’s Burial

Missouri Republican, 31 August 1846

It is with sincere regret that I inform you of the death of Lt. Col ALLEN. He died this morning at 3 o—™clock, of congestive fever, after an illness of ten days, in his 38th year of age.
He, you know, was Capt. of 1st Dragoons, and was deputed by Gen KEARNEY [sic], to muster into service of the United States, the Mormons as Infantry. Of this battalion, he was elected Lt. Colonel. He has endured great fatigue, and hardships, since his election, and his constitution, which was much impaired before, was unable to endure so much. His death has thrown a gloom over every thing at the Fort to day, and every face indicates sincere distress. I understand that he was a noble soldier, and, universally beloved by all who knew him. His battalion (which has been gone ten days) perfectly idolized him, and his death will be a severe blow to them. He was much attached to the soldiers in his command, had brought them under very superior discipline, and said before his death, that he had never commanded a finer, or more orderly company. Indeed every one here (ladies too) speak highly of this battalion.
Lieutenant Colonel ALLEN was without a family but he did not go to the tomb unwept. When he was a young lieutenant, a dying mother, who knew him, and appreciated to the kindness of his nature, placed under his charge, a little orphan daughter. This child he took, and rearing with all the tender affection of fond father, adopted her as his own, and gave her a fine education. She is now grown, the wife of one of the officers at this station. At her house her died, and from her he received the most constant and affectionate attention during his illness. His death deeply distressed her.
His faithful servant, Levi Wells, to whom he was much attached, and who has lived with him for years, hung over his body, and wrung his hands in an agony of grief.
He was buried this afternoon, at five o—™clock, with military honors, by company A of the first Infantry, Lt. Wm E. Prince commanding. This company made a fine appearance on parade. The flag of the United States was folded and laid over his coffin, which was proceeded to the grave by the company of Lieut. Prince and, one of the finest bands of music I have ever heard, belonging to the first regiment of dragoons.

Capt. HOLT, Lieut. SMITH, Dr. SANDERSON, and Lieut BUCHANAN acted as his pallbearers. His body was conducted to a high bluff overlooking the broad Missouri , whose waters lave its base, and thence deposited forever.

In the procession immediately following his body, was his beautifully spotted horse, led by his servant, Wells, caparisoned as if for battle. His boots and spurs were at the stirrups, his sword hanging at the side of the horse, and his pistols, bare and of dazzling brightness, hanging at, the pommel of the saddle.
But alas, the hand that might have wielded that sword in glorious conflict with the enemies of his country, was powerless in death, and the voice that might have cheered on his victorious comrades upon some ensanguined battle-field, was silenced forever. —œWhat shadows we are, [and] what shadows we pursue.— [Edmund Burke”)

Lieutenant Colonel Allen is the first officer who has died at Fort Leavenworth since its establishment, a period of nineteen years. This is a remarkable fact.

From Gen. George Cullum’s Biographical Register (1891):
Born O JAMES ALLEN Ap’d Indiana, Military History Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1 1825, to July 1 1829, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to BVT SECOND LIEUT 5TH INFANTRY JULY 1 1829; SECOND LIEUT 5TH INFANTRY, JULY 1 1829.  Served on frontier duty at Ft Brady, Michigan, 1829-33. SECOND LIEUT IST DRAGOONS, MAR. 4 1833, Dearborn, Ill., 1833-34, on Engineer duty Jan 10, 1834, to Oct 15; FIRST LIEUT IST DRAGOONS, MAY 31, 1835-1836, on frontier duty at Ft Leavenworth, Kan., 1837.  CAPTAIN, IST DRAGOONS, JUNE 30. 1837. Frontier duty at Ft Leavenworth,  1839-42; Ft Gibson IT 1842; March to Ft Atkinson Io. 1842; Ft Sandford, Io 1842 Raccoon Fork, Io. 1843; Ft Des Moines, Io. 1843-44; Raccoon Fork, Io., 1844; Ft Des Moines, Io., 1844-45; Expedition to Lac Qui Parle 1845 and Ft Des Moines, Io. 1845-46 and in the War with Mexico, 1846 as Lient. Colonel commanding Mormon Battalion of Missouri Volunteers on the march to New Mexico July 16 to Aug 23 1846. DIED AUG 23 1846 AT FT LEAVENWORTH, KAN AGED 40.

James Allen was a member of the orginal cast of 1sr Dragoons. Like so many others in the army, he had a serious addition to spirits. The rigors of hard duty  on the prairies served to further weakened his body. Many thanks to Tim Kimball for unearthing this obituary.

George Evans

George Evans graduated from the Military Academy as a member of the legendary Class of in 1846. Assigned as a brevet 2d Lieutenant to the 1st Dragoons, he received a brevet for bravery at the battle of Buene Vista before receiving his permanent rank of 2d Lt. Assigned to A Company, he suffered what appears to be a stroke while in California in 1850. Sent home to Maine, he languished for another 9 years before dying on 29 March 1859.

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Resigning Dragoon Officers: William Magruder

Obtaining a rebel commission was not an easy thing for officers of the regular army. First, one had to choose between the loyalty owed to his home state and to the oath to defend the Constitution. Many officers of Southern birth remained in the federal army. Of 821 West Point educated officers actively serving in the federal army in 1861, 184 gained commissions in the army of the Southern Confederacy.

Consider the case of William T. Magruder–an officer who managed to fight for both sides in the war. A native of Maryland, he graduated from West Point in 1850 and landed a commission in the 1st Dragoons. He received a Captain’s commission and the command of Company E to date from 8 January 1861. When the war started, Magruder found himself on leave in the East and ended up fighting for the Union Army at the Battle of Bull Run. After the battle he hurried to the West Coast to take command of his company at Fort Wall Walla, in Washington Territory only to turn around and take his company back to Washington, D.C. Magruder dutifully boarded a steamer and arrived in Washington D.C. with his troop at the end of January of 1862. He fought in a number of battles during General McClellan’s failed campaign to take Richmond in May of 1862. Opposing McClellan was Magruder’s cousin, Prince John Magruder.

With his battered troop in need of new recruits and refitting, Captain Magruder went on leave in August. He did not return. On October 1, 1862, the Union Army accepted his resignation. The capable Magruder quickly obtained a captain’s commission in the Confederate Army and served on General Robert E. Lee’s staff. On July 3, 1863, he was killed while attempting to rally the men of General Davis’ brigade during the final moments of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg.