Friday, May 1, 2009

Perry made an artificer

While stationed at Fort Moultrie in South Carolina, a soldier known as "Edgar A. Perry" was appointed an artificer on May 1, 1828. "Perry" was the assumed name of Edgar A. Poe, who had enlisted in the Army in Boston less than a year before. He changed his name likely to keep John Allan off his trail after splitting with the household shortly before. His new role as an artificer seems to have made him responsible for crafting bullets and other supplies. Typically, this role was held for people with prior experience with blaksmithing or carpentry. Poe was earning $10 a month for this role.

Rumors persist that Poe was a terrible soldier; this is quite untrue. Though Poe's time in the Army was relatively short (he would later pay another to finish out his enlistment), he did extremely well. Earlier in 1828, he was put in charge of his company's food supplies and endeared himself to the quartermaster. Being named as an artificer took less than 12 months and, within eight months after that, he was promoted to Sergeant Major — the highest grade a non-commissioned soldier could aspire to. He also served as a clerk and wrote lengthy monthly reports on the regiment. His rising through the ranks is, by all interpretations, extremely fast and suggests a hard-working soldier whose superiors liked him and in him saw much potential. One officer referred to him as "exemplary" and "highly worthy of confidence." In his short stint with the Army, Poe was stationed at Fort Independence in Boston, Fort Moultrie in South Carolina, and Fortress Monroe in Virginia.

For more on Poe's military pursuits, see an earlier post on Poe's Military Attempts (especially his time at West Point Military Academy). Or, better yet, seek out the book by the late William J. Hecker, Private Perry and Mister Poe.

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