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From the National Archives:

Edgar Allan Poe: January 19, 1809 - October 7, 1849

Edgar A. Poe,  From the series: Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes

Enlistment Papers for Edgar A. Perry [Poe], 05/26/1827

Literary icon Edgar Allan Poe was born 205 years ago on January 19, 1809.  

Among the holdings at the National Archives are records from Poe’s military career. Frequently in debt, he joined the Army at age 18 in 1827 during one of his bouts of financial difficulties.  His enlistment papers show the master of fiction at work, falsifying his name (“Edgar A. Perry”) and age (22, four years older than his real age at the time). The paper also described him as being 5 feet 8 inches tall, with brown hair, gray eyes, and a fair complexion. 

Poe’s military career fared little better than one of his doomed characters.  While he managed to get a coveted appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he was eventually court-martialed and dismissed within seven months.