Edgar Allan Poe joins US Army
Unable to support himself, on May 27, 1827, Poe enlisted in the United States Army as a private.
Using the name "Edgar A. Perry", he claimed he was 22 years old even though he was 18. He first served at Fort Independence in Boston Harbor for five dollars a month. That same year, he released his first book, a 40-page collection of poetry, Tamerlane and Other Poems, attributed with the byline "by a Bostonian". Only 50 copies were printed, and the book received virtually no attention. Poe's regiment was posted to Fort Moultrie in Charleston, South Carolina and traveled by ship on the brig Waltham on November 8, 1827. Poe was promoted to "artificer", an enlisted tradesman who prepared shells for artillery, and had his monthly pay doubled. After serving for two years and attaining the rank of Sergeant Major for Artillery (the highest rank a noncommissioned officer can achieve), Poe sought to end his five-year enlistment early. He revealed his real name and his circumstances to his commanding officer, Lieutenant Howard. Howard would only allow Poe to be discharged if he reconciled with John Allan and wrote a letter to Allan, who was unsympathetic. Several months passed and pleas to Allan were ignored; Allan may not have written to Poe even to make him aware of his foster mother's illness.
Edgar Allan had no money, no job skills, and had been shunned by John Allan. Edgar went to Boston and joined the U.S. Army in 1827. He was 18. He did reasonably well in the Army and attained the rank of sergeant major. In 1829, Mrs. Allan died and John Allan tried to be friendly towards Edgar and signed Edgar's application to West Point.
In 1826 he attended the University of Virginia, leaving after only a few months to join the United States Army. His first volume of poems, entitled Tamerlane and Other Poems, was privately published in 1827; a second volume, Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems, appeared in 1829 shortly after he was honorably discharged from the army.
In 1826, Poe was sent to the University of Virginia, but was forced to leave college the next year because of gambling debts. This may have been the cause of his alienation from his foster family, because John Allan refused to pay the debt for Poe, who felt honor-bound to pay although he may have been cheated. Having found out that his first love at home, Elmira Royster, was engaged to someone else, and feuding with his foster father, Poe enlisted in the U.S. Army as “Edgar A. Perry” in the spring of 1827. That year also saw the publication of his first book (actually a paperbound pamphlet), Tamerlane and Other Poems.
Early Military and Publication Careers:
In 1829, Poe’s foster mother, Frances Allan, died in Richmond, and though he was given leave from the Army, he was not able to get there until a day later. Soon after, he won release from his enlistment obligation by providing a substitute, applied to enter West Point, and ended up moving in with an aunt in Baltimore. His second book, Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems, was published in Baltimore in 1829. He spent part of the next year at West Point, but deliberately got himself courtmartialed and dismissed in 1831. That year his third book, Poems, appeared in New York, supported by subscriptions from fellow cadets.