1901 MEMPHIS UCV “OFFICIAL BUTTON” OF JOHN W. ASHCRAFT, TENNESSEE CAVALRY

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Item Code: 2022-131

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John W. Ashcraft was active in Confederate veteran affairs. According to his 1932 obituary in the Confederate Veteran, he was a subscriber from its first issue, missed only two Confederate reunions, rose to be a Major General in the UCV, and was buried in his Confederate (presumably UCV) uniform. The photo of him we show, from a genealogical website, appears to bear out his dedication. He appears holding a rifle and bayonet, and wearing what appears to be a veteran’s badge. We are offering a number of his badges in separate listings.

This stick-pin button is backmarked W & H Co. / Newark, NJ  in raised letters, which is certainly Whitehead and Hoag, major makers of pins, ribbons, badges, UCV and GAR material and in business from the 1890s into the 1950s. Over their backmark is “Official Button.” The straight pin, showing some bends, is full length and firmly in place. The obverse has a border reading in raised letters MEMPHIS / 1901 with leaf and berry branches. The center has three enameled stripes, red, white, red, suggesting the CS first national flag, and the interlocked letters UCV. The condition is good, with some stains to metal and the coloring, with some pinpoint losses to the latter, but no major chips.

John White Ashcraft (1847-1932) enlisted in the Tennessee cavalry at age 15 on February 23, 1863, and was captured September 1863 in Tennessee, and spent time as a prisoner of war at Camp Chase and then the Rock Island Barracks before being sent to Point Lookout for parole and exchange in February 1865 and made it to Richmond, where he was hospitalized for debility in March and furloughed 3/8/1865. According to one obituary, at the close of the war, “was somewhere in North Carolina. On account of the bushwhackers in East Tennessee, he walked to his home in Middle Tennessee by way of South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi.” He was active in Confederate veteran affairs after the war and was commander of the Bill Dawson Camp, United Confederate Veterans, at Dyersburg, TN, and is titled “Maj. Gen. John W. Ashcraft, U.C.V.” in the 1932 obituary indicating he held higher office as well.

His service record is complicated by the changing designations of the company in which he served. The best summary is that provided in his compiled service record, which lists him as a private in Co. I of the 1st Tennessee Cavalry, and then notes: “This company (also called Company A) was formerly Company C, 2nd (Biffle’s) Battalion Tennessee Cavalry. This regiment was formed about May, 1862, by the consolidation of the 2d (Biffle’s) Battalion Tennessee Cavalry and the 11th (also called the 10th) Battalion Tennessee Cavalry and then called the 2d Regiment Tennessee Cavalry. It was re-organized June 12, 1862, by order of the Secretary of War and known in the field and paroled as the 1st Regiment Tennessee Cavalry, although officially designated as the 6th Regiment Tennessee Cavalry by the A. & I.G.O.” [Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office.]” That summary accords with his military record, which shows him enlisted by “Col. Lewis,” who must be Captain James H. Lewis, who had been Captain of Company C in Biffle’s 2nd Battalion.

According to the NPS summary, the regiment “was assigned to F.C. Armstrong's, H.B. Davidson's, Humes', and H.M. Ashby's Brigade. The unit participated in the operations in North Mississippi during the balance of 1862 and in January, 1863, contained 430 officers and men. It went on to fight at Chickamauga, skirmished in Middle Tennessee, then was active in the Atlanta, Campaign. Later the regiment saw action in various engagements in North Alabama and Middle Tennessee, moved to South Carolina, and in 1865 joined the Army of Tennessee. After fighting at Averysboro and Bentonville, it was included in the surrender on April 26.”

This chronology would place Ashcroft’s capture, dated both September 17 and September 18, 1863, during the Chickamauga Campaign, though the location is given as “Hillsborough” and as a “Franklin,” Tennessee, so the circumstances are not clear and one citation lists him as “arrested.” CWData gives him an estimated date of enlistment of November 1862, but his service file clearly says 2/23/63.    [sr] [ph:m]

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