1926 BIRMINGHAM UCV BADGE OF JOHN W. ASHCRAFT, TENNESSEE CAVALRY

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Item Code: 2022-134

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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 is a two piece badge backmarked by Whitehead and Hoag on top bar and drop. The top bar has the pin, slightly bent, secure and in place and reads simply U.C.V. on the face. The drop is secured by a single link and reads 1926 at top, UCV at left, top, and right, and “36th Reunion / Birmingham / Ala” along the upper left and right edges and bottom. The central motif is the triple portrait of Davis, Lee and Jackson that would appear on Stone Mountain, a work in progress at the time of the reunion, over a Confederate battleflag on a background that seems clearly to suggest clouds to highlight the religious associations already created by the three riders, the two foremost of whom have reverently doffed their hats and look upward. The condition is very good, with some minor stains on the bottom edge and some rubbing of the highpoints, but no loss of detail. It is interesting that in this version, the third rider, who would be Jackson, arguably the most devout of the three, appears to retain his hat, perhaps as the one wartime fatality of the group, or a ghostly representative of the lost cause.

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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