The brief, failed military career of Edgar Allan Poe


What if Edgar Allan Poe had remained at West Point in 1831? will be remembered as

Netflix’s new movie The Pale Blue Eye gives us an excuse to think about that possibility. This fictional film tells the story of a former New York City police officer, played by Christian Bale, who searches for clues to a gruesome crime at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York in 1830. Cadet Poe played by Harry Melling.

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Based on Lewis Bayard’s 2003 novel, the murder mystery is little more than a fantasy, except for the part about Poe.He was attending the military academy at the time Shortly after Robert E. Lee, before Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, he intended to become an army officer.

Born in Boston in 1809, Poe was orphaned after his father abandoned his family at the age of three and his mother died a year later. According to writer Allen Tate, the young man lived in Virginia with John and Francis Allan (hence the poet’s middle name), and they tried to raise him as a “southern gentleman.”

By all accounts, Poe rarely lived up to that ideal. He liked liquor, gambling, and women. His inadequacy may actually have led him to enlist in the Army. Poe fell out with his foster parents, who objected to the young man’s gambling and other debts. The aspiring poet he attended the University of Virginia in 1826 but left shortly after Allan refused to cover his “exorbitant spending,” says Robert D. Jacobs in his 1969 I wrote about it in my article of the year.

Poe enlisted in the Army in Boston in 1827. In reality he was 18, but his age was 21 and his name was Edgar A. Perry.

In the army, he seemed prosperous. He quickly rose through the ranks to “artificer” (a special rank reserved for professional artillerymen) in his Company H of the 1st Artillery Regiment at Fort He Independence, Massachusetts. I was. Soon after, he was promoted to sergeant, the highest rank of non-commissioned officer, ahead of his 500 other non-commissioned officers.

In a 2003 article in the Army Space Journal, according to Michael L. Howard, Poe biographers believe the future poet “distinguished himself” and “pleased his superiors” in a “successful” military tenure. I wrote.

Poe also believed he was fit for the army. “My character stands up to scrutiny and deserves the respect of officers,” he wrote in a letter to Allan in 1828.

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Low income was certainly a factor, but Poe may have been driven to join the Army because of his grandfather’s example. During the American Revolutionary War, David Poe served as Quartermaster under George Washington. His grandson was also a lieutenant in the minor militia group that escorted the Marquis de Lafayette when Poe was fifteen years old when he visited Richmond in 1824.

In 1829, Poe was released from five years of military service, allowing him to become a cadet at West Point and secure an appointment from President Andrew Jackson. After reconciling with his adoptive father, he reported to the Military Academy overlooking the Hudson River on July 1, 1830.

At first Poe got along well, but his love for West Point soon wore off. Some historians speculate that he failed to perform well at the academy. His fellow cadet Thomas Pickering-Jones later said, “Poe was a good student, but he had an aversion to mathematics and did poorly in that subject, which is why he decided to leave West Point.” I decided,” he wrote.

However, other factors may have led to his departure. Poe had another argument about money with Alan, who took his adopted son out of his will. In addition, Poe thought he would receive an officer’s commission after only six months at the academy because of his previous enlistment, but he learned he would have to remain at West Point for four full years.

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According to Howard, “Poe deliberately attempted to be discharged.” He stopped attending classes and ignored orders from his boss. According to one legend, Poe was ordered to appear at the drill “under a crossbelt and arm”, which he did, but reported in “End of Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point” He was wearing nothing else, as it is supposed to be. By James S. Robbins.

Nature Whether or not Poe’s inaction had the desired effect. On March 6, 1831, he was dismissed from West Point after being court-martialed for neglecting his duties and disobeying orders.

Shortly after moving to Baltimore, he published another book of poetry — partly funded by his West Point A Classmate — With the inscription “This volume is dedicated in honor of the United States Cadet Corps.”

Army losses were literary gains. Poe became one of the most influential writers of her 19th century, Gothic, best known for his horror short stories and poems of love and loss with a supernatural sound. He was the creator of the detective novel and Science is considered an early contributor to his fiction genre.

As Poe’s fame as a writer grew, so did his penchant for drinking and other vices. He died mysteriously in 1849 at the age of 40, leaving a lasting legacy in literature if not the military.

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