Monthly Archives: April 2018

1864: Frank Ashley to Celesta (Ewing) Ashley


Frank Ashley, 64th OVI

This letter was written by Cpl. Frank Ashley (1834-1926) of Co. H, 64th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI). Frank enlisted on 4 November 1861 to serve three years. He was appointed corporal on 1 May 1864 and mustered out with the company on 3 December 1865 in Victoria, Texas. Frank wrote the letter to his wife, Celesta (Ewing) Ashley (1845-1868) at Plymouth, Richland county, Ohio. His parents were Jonah Ashley (1797-1862) and Sarah Hawks (1799-1875). This letter was one of over 125 letters written by Ashley sold by Heritage Auctions some time ago.

In this detailed letter, Frank lets his wife know he is yet alive though “weary” after 12 days of marching and fighting in the opening stage of the Atlanta Campaign. He tells her of the losses experienced by the regiment and, in particular, of his company at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge where the 64th OVI participated in a charge on the enemy’s breastworks that was over in minutes and “gained nothing.” The regiments losses were 21 killed, 65 wounded and missing.

[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent.]


Attack on Rocky Face Ridge, Lithograph by Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887)


Battle Ground near Resaca, Georgia
May 15, 1864

Dear and affectionate Let,

Thinking you would like to hear from me by this time, I thought I would write you a few lines. My health is good although some weary for this makes 12 days since we started. We have had several skirmishes within that time [and] have drove the rebs 18 miles. The first place that we fought them was at Rocky Face Ridge—one of the hardest places I ever saw—but we lost a good many men by it. In one charge our regiment lost 74 men in killed, wounded & prisoners. In our company there were 5 wounded & 4 killed. The rebs got one but he was mortally wounded [and] the rebs left him. We found him at a citizen’s house in the valley but his hours were few when we found him [and] could not do anything for him. His name is Eli Whitney. His folks live near Dekalb. ¹ A[braham] F. Solomon, James McConnell, [and] Jacob Waidler were killed, and Green, John [W.] Hahn, Jacob [S.] Bloom, Sam May & two more that I cannot mention at present were wounded and at the time that I am writing, the battle is raging fiercely. There has been hard fighting since yesterday noon.

Our regiment was in about 3 hours—one man killed and 8 wounded. Drove the rebs about 1½ miles and have the better of them at present. They are in a place where they have to fight or do worse. They lay between us and a river and McPherson crossed ahead of them and burned the bridge and holds them in check. We have a large army here—all the force in the West—which is enough to whip them good.

Dear wife, I cannot tell my feelings at the present. You full well know the excitement that exists at such a time. We also have glorious news from the Potomac Army. This will be a final close of this war but it will be the bloodiest of the war and those that live to see the day will be satisfied to let war alone—I think so at least. But I must close and the next time I write I will give full particulars of the battle.


Col. Alexander McIlvaine, killed in Battle of Rocky Face Ridge, Ga., 9 May 1864

The 45th Ohio is here but have not seen it yet. Our Colonel [Alexander McIlvaine] was killed on the ridge. It was done in a charge on their breastworks. It was all done in a few minutes and gained nothing by it.

Love to all, Write soon. I am truly yours, — F. Ashley to C. A. Ashley

Direct to Dalton, Georgia

May 18, 1864

Dear beloved wife,

As I did not send this letter at the time it was wrote, I add more. I received your letter with those photographs. I think they look well. I feel well satisfied with them. We have been driving rebs right along. We are in 40 miles of Atlanta. We had 2 killed and 7 wounded in the regiment at Resaca. Had a sharp skirmish last night with them but all is clear now. My health is good. James Speckler is well. But will close. Write soon. Love to all, I am your ever loving husband, — F. Ashley

2998219_1459291020¹ Eli Whitney (1846-1864) was the son of George Whitney (1822-1878) and Catherine Saltzgaber (1822-1877) of DeKalb, Ohio. Eli was originally buried near Dalton, Georgia, but was later reburied in the Chattanooga National Cemetery (Plot K, 10143). He died of wounds received in the battle of Rocky Face Ridge on 9 May 1864—just four days after his 18th birthday.


1862: John Thomas Read to Laurena Caroline (Rankin) Read

This letter was written by John Thomas Read (1825-1900), the son of Sion Spencer Read (1791-1845) and Hardenia Jefferson Spencer (1804-1889) of McMinnville, Warren county, Tennessee. John attended the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1852-1853 and was practicing medicine in McMinnville when the Civil War began. He received an appointment in the CSA service as a surgeon and by January 1862 he was attached to the 16th Tennessee Infantry. In May 1862, John failed to pass his examination as a surgeon and, as a consequence, lost his commission. By April 1863, however, he was reinstated as a surgeon  by the Confederate States Senate. After the war, he resumed his practice in McMinnville and then built and managed the Read House Hotel in Chattanooga in 1872.

John’s older brother, Lycurgus W. Read (1822-1846), was killed in the Battle of Monterrey in the Mexican War. He also had a younger brother, Lieut. Edmund Cole Read (1834-1862) of Co. C, 16th Tennessee Vols., who died from wounds received at the Battle of Perryille.

John wrote the letter to his wife, Laurena Caroline (“Carrie”) Rankin (1827-1903). She was the daughter of David Rankin (1799-1862) and Zilpha Roberson (1809-1882).


John T. Read’s Hotel in Chattanooga after the Civil War

Addressed to Mrs. Jno. T. Read, McMinnville, Tenn.

Pocotaligo, South Carolina
January 18, 1862

My dear Carrie,

Yours of the 11th was received day before yesterday just after Mr. Spurlock left and as I had just written to you by him and some of the officers here expected a fight yesterday or today, I have deferred writing until now that I might assure you that we were alive yet and liking to remain so a great while if we live until the Yankees attack us here.

As to the Harrin Acct., that is correct and he has an acct. against me for corn &c. which Mr. Rankin can settle if he wishes. Otherwise, it can be left until my return. W. Turner’s acct. is correct and the Kilgore acct. is the one he speaks of the Sheriff’s receipt for the collection of. The Alley’s note has been paid, I think. I have concluded to pay the Bank draft as the calls are made and devote my means from now on to the payment of Stubblefield’s debt after store accts. &c. are paid. I owe each drug store in McMinnville a small acct. if you should have the money to spare any time, pay them.

As to your keeping boarders is concerned, there is nothing wrong in the matter but [ ] in you to make an effort to be independent yourself. The only thing I wished to impress upon you was that I did not wish you to break yourself down in trying to support yourself & family in my absence when I was off at a good salary. If not too much labor to you, I think it best that you have company. I will send by Mr. James Spurlock in three weeks $200 to pay on the G. J. S. debt provided he does not want the negro. How has the hog speculation of our kin turned out? I hope they will make money.

Mr. James Spurlock expects to be back here in two or three weeks and occasionally until spring opens. He will bring us some butter and lard. If it has not already started, don’t trouble yourself about the matter. I will have enough money to pay my score. The butter, apples & cakes came safely and were very nice and we all appreciated them highly after being so long deprived of such things.

I am glad you are having such pleasant times with music, dancing, &c. I have promised Bob and Hacket a dance if we should all get home. Try and have Laura to learn how to dance. I hope by the middle of May next to be able to dance a little myself. I think it the most innocent amusement of any other for the refined.

Charley has received your letter but he is now as formerly a very quiet young gentleman [and] rarely speaks to any one outside of his own mess. And as to his answering your letter, you has as well expect the millennium.

I am glad that sister Laura has written to Ma. Write to her yourself and tell her to write to me and I will answer her. I saw some two months since when one or more of the [Rankins?] were wounded in some battle but Bob said neither was our kin. I would like to know more of my relatives than I now do.

As to your visiting your parents now, I have nothing to say. Go if you think best. In May next, several of us expect to go over to the Valley on a big fishing excursion when I would like to have you along very much, and amongst the rest, Uncle Jim Spurlock. He has some notions of renting my farm. Say nothing about the matter now as it is all uncertain and in the future.

We now have less than four months to serve and the nearer the time of freedom approaches, the more heavily the times drag. There are now indications of a desire upon the part of some of the officials to re-enlist our troops. I think they are generally disposed to loan their guns &c. to the militia for six months—at least if the war continues and the rest of the present Tenn. troops are like ours just now the militia will have a chance to show their valor during the next summer.

We have damp, disagreeable weather here just now. Usually the days are very warm and the nights rather cool. The regiment is in unusually good health and unless the Yankees spur up a little, I expect the most of us will come back home in good health & spirits in May and the girls may look out as I think the boys are determined to marry at sight or on the wing or almost anyway as they have been deprived of female society so long they are almost desperate now.

If your boarders give you no unnecessary labor, keep them, as I see nothing wrong in your course save the labor to yourself.

[     ]. I would write to her but the most of my time is occupied and when I have time, I prefer writing to you. Give my love to my relations and accept for yourself my warmest regards, — Jno. T. Read

I have written to Mr. Rankin about the corn &c.




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