Orrin Sweet Allen was born in Rensseler County, New York in 1826 to William Allen, an itinerant farmer. Orrin was educated in the ministry and turned to cabinet making and woodworking to make a living in the pre war years. In 1856 Orrin was working for Garrit Wade, a Cabinetmaker from Harmony, NY. Garrit Wade’s daughter Francis and Orrin were married in 1857 and began a family on a farm in Harmony, NY and had three children, two of which, Della (Dill) and Clarence Wade (Wait), were born before the start of the Civil War.
On August 22, 1862 in Mayville, NY Orrin was sworn into the 112th Regiment New York State Volunteers at the age of 36. In early September 1862 Orrin left his wife and two children behind to fight for the country he loved. He makes every attempt to make sure his wife has the means necessary to carry on with life and take care of the family. The letters Orrin and Francis (Frank) exchange tell the story of love, hardship and enduring life during the war.