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.


About Griff

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries. View all posts by Griff

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