Civil War Wiki


Template:Infobox Governor Henry Watkins Allen (April 29, 1820 – April 22, 1866) was an American soldier and politician, and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He served as the Confederate & 17th Governor of Louisiana late in the war. Port Allen, a small city on the west bank of the Mississippi River across from Baton Rouge, was named after him in 1878.

Early life and career[]

Allen was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and educated at Marion College, Missouri, taught school and practiced law in Mississippi, and served in the Texas Revolution against Mexico. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives in 1853, after having studied law at Harvard. In 1859 he went to Europe with the intention of taking part in the Italian struggle for independence, but arrived too late. He toured through Europe, the incidents of which are recounted in Travels of a Sugar Planter. He was elected to the legislature during his absence, and on returning took a prominent part in the business of that body. He had been a Whig in politics, but had joined the Democratic Party when Buchanan was nominated for president in 1856.

Civil War service[]

Allen joined the Confederate Army as a lieutenant colonel on August 15, 1861, and was promoted to colonel on March 1, 1862. He was wounded at Shiloh and Baton Rouge. Allen became a brigadier general on August 19, 1863, and was elected Governor of Louisiana in 1864, losing office when the Confederacy collapsed in 1865.

As governor, Allen secured legislative passage of a law to prevent illegal impressment by Confederate agents. Another law allowed Allen to purchase medicine and to distribute it to the needy. Disabled soldiers were provided with $11 per month. Allen procured the establishment of new hospitals both with public funds and private contributions. He established a system of state stores, foundries, and factories. He procured quinine from behind Union lines in New Orleans or from Mexico. State laboratories manufactured turpentine, castor oil, medicinal alcohol, and carbonate of soda. Allen made arrangement with General Edmund Kirby-Smith to transfer to the state large amounts of cotton and sugar collected by Confederate agents as tax in-kind until the Confederate debt could be retired. He tried to make the state self-sufficient and also guarded the civil liberties of the citizens from infringement by military authorities.[1]

Postbellum career[]

Historian John D. Winters writes on Allen's exodus from Louisiana as the war ended to to take refuge in Mexico:

"Before leaving he addressed a long letter to the people of Louisiana begging them to keep the peace and 'submit to the inevitable' and 'begin life anew' without whining or despair. The crippled governor then got into his ambulance while a group of friends, tears streaming from their eyes, told him good-by."[2]

After the war, Allen moved to Mexico City, edited the Mexico Times, and wrote Travels of a Sugar Planter. He assisted in the opening of trade between Texas and Mexico. He died in Mexico City, of a stomach disorder,[3] and was buried in the Old Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.


The Henry Watkins Allen Camp #133 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is named in his honor as is Allen Parish in western Louisiana. The neighborhood he lived in while in Shreveport bears the name Allendale. Camp #435, Sons of Confederate Veterans was chartered in 1903 as the Kirby Smith Camp, but the name was changed prior to 1935 to the Henry Watkins Allen Camp #435 in honor of Shreveport's famous resident. The camp is no longer in existence.

Henry W. Allen Elementary School, a public school in New Orleans, is named for him.

A statue of Allen is located near the West Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse in Port Allen.


  1. John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN: 0-8071-0834-0, pp. 318-319
  2. Winters, p. 426
  3. [1]

External links[]

Template:Start box Template:S-off |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Thomas Overton Moore (D) |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Governor of Louisiana Henry Watkins Allen (D)
Confederate Governor
|width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Michael Hahn (R)
Reconstruction Governor
|- |}

Template:Governors of Louisiana

de:Henry Watkins Allen la:Henricus Watkins Allen