Col John Allen

Col John Allen

Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA
Death 22 Jan 1813 (aged 41)
Monroe County, Michigan, USA
Burial Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky, USA
Plot Section K: The Miltary Monument Area
Memorial ID 99521704 View Source
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John Allen was a veteran of the War of 1812.

Allen County, Kentucky; Allen County, Indiana; and Allen County, Ohio were named for Col. John Allen, who died in the Battle of River Raisin in Monroe County, Michigan.


Lt. Col. John Allen was born in Virginia in 1771 and was eight years old when his family moved to Kentucky. As an adult, he became a lawyer and politician. Allen lost the race for governor of Kentucky in 1808, but was elected to the U.S. Congress.

At the start of hostilities in 1812, Allen raised and commanded Kentucky's 1st Rifle Regiment. He led the American right wing at the Battle of French Town on January 18, 1813, and was in charge of the American center, which was ordered to bolster the retreating right wing on the 22nd. Allen was killed during the retreat, becoming the senior American officer to die at the Battle of the River Raisin [Monroe County, Michigan].
Allen County, Kentucky, was named in his honor.

- by Ralph Naveaux


HISTORY OF KENTUCKY, by Lewis Collins, and
J.A. & U.P. James,
published 1847.

This county [Allen] received its name from Col JOHN ALLEN, who fell in
the disastrous battle of the river Raisin. He was born in Rockbridge
county, Virginia, the 30th of December, 1772. His father, James Allen,
emigrated to Kentucky in the fall of the year 1780, and settled at
Dougherty's station, on Clarke run, about one and a half miles below the
present town of Danville. Here he formed an acquaintance with Joseph
Daviess, the father of Col. Joseph Hamilton Daviess. Becoming impatient
at the close confinement of the station, these fearless and ardent men
removed farther down the creek, and erecting a small station, lived
there for three years. At the expiration of this period, Mr. Daviess
purchased a tract of land three or four miles west of Danville, and
removed to it.
In 1784, the father of John Allen removed to Nelson county, and
settled on Simpson's creek, seven and a half miles from Bardstown. In
1786, the subject of this notice attended a school in Bardstown, kept by
a Mr. Shackleford, where he acquired a slight knowledge of the classics.
This school was succeeded by one under the charge of Dr. James Priestly,
with whom young Allen finished his education. At this school, Joseph H.
Daviess, John Rowan, Felix Grundy, Archibald Cameron, John Pope, and
John Allen, all distinguished in after life, formed one class.
In the year 1791, John Allen commenced the study of the law in the
office of Col. Archibald Stewart, of Stanton, VA. He pursued his legal
studies with great assiduity for about four years, and in 1795, he
returned to Kentucky and settled in Shelbyville, where he continued to
practice law till 1812. As a lawyer, he ranked with the first men of his
On the breaking out of the war in 1812, he raised a regiment of
riflemen, for the campaign under Harrison in the north-west. Part of
this regiment was in the battle of Brownstown, on the 18th of January,
1813. In the fatal battle of the river Raisin, Col. Allen's regiment
formed the left wing of the American force. The termination of this
affair is too well known to require recapitulation here; and among the
many noble and chivalrous Kentuckians who there found a bloody grave,
there was none whose loss was more sensibly felt or deeply deplored than
Col. Allen. Infexibily just, benevolent in all his feelings, and of
undaunted courage, he was a fine specimen of the Kentucky gentleman of
that day, and his name will not soon pass away from the memory of his


Inscription of a Michigan Historical Marker for
Col. John Allen:

Col. Allen tried vainly to rally the retreating Americans at the second Battle of the River Raisin, Jan. 22, 1813. Exhausted and disabled by a thigh wound, he faced the pursuing Indians near here. The colonel desperately defended himself at swordpoint before being killed.

Col. Allen was one of the most influential men in Kentucky. He organized and then led the elite first rifle regiment, Kentucky volunteer militia. Allen had unsuccessfully run for the governorship of Kentucky in 1808 and was a member of its Senate at the time of his death. Counties in several states were later named in his honor.

Erected by Monroe County Historical Commission

Link to his cenotaph:


Col. John Allen,
[River] Raisin,
North-side of The Military Monument on
The State Mound in the Frankfort Cemetery.

Family Members