Henry Watkins Allen

1820 - 1866

Born on April 29, 1820 in Prince Edward County, Virginia, Allen worked in business, but soon quit the position.  He was successively a resident of Missouri, where he received his education at Marion College; Mississippi, where he taught school and became a lawyer and planter; and Louisiana, where he was a member of the legislature for two terms.  He attended college briefly and taught, but soon found that the life of a soldier appealed to him most. He volunteered to fight in the War for Texas Independence. After moving to Louisiana, he studied law for one year at Harvard University and returned to Louisiana to begin a political career. 

The War for Southern Independence interrupted his political career as Allen enlisted in the Louisiana Infantry. Although he was wounded in the face at Shiloh, he refused to leave the field and, although his leg was later shattered by a shell fragment at Baton Rouge, he refused to have his leg amputated. By September 1863, he was physically unfit for service. Allen was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and transferred to the Trans-Mississippi. Soon after his return to Louisiana, he was elected governor, in which position he helped revitalize the war-time economy of Louisiana. Allen began trade with Mexico, began a state welfare system, and allowed people to pay with Louisiana or Confederate currency, introducing economic stability to the region. When the Confederacy surrendered, Allen supported Kirby Smith's attempt to keep fighting. By May 1865, however, Allen suggested that the army be disbanded, and he fled to Mexico in fear for his life. Allen published an English-language newspaper based in Mexico City, but, having never fully recovered from his battle wounds, he died on April 22, 1866.