New Bedford, Massachusetts: 1861 - 1875. ~ 100 pp. of mss entries. 12-3/8" x 8". Modern speckled brown leather respining, original green marbled paper boards. Printed yellow pictorial advert eps. Boards well worn. Parsons & Co label to front paste-down. Good. Item #47057
This mid-19th C. manuscript journal/diary belonged to Allen G. Ashley of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Ashley was a miller who worked at the New Bedford grain mill of Warner Denison & Co. Ashley was also a member of the New Bedford Fire Department and worked with horses. In 1861 Allen Ashley purchased a large 8 x 12-1/2" notebook from Parsons & Co. Booksellers on Union Street in New Bedford. Ashley used this notebook as a journal from January 1861 through the Civil War and into the 1870's. He even made some entries in this journal as late as 1896. Ashley enlisted in the Army on September 30, 1861 and left the Army on March 12, 1863.
The journal starts in January, 1861 approximately nine months before he enlisted and continues for many years after he leaves the army. At the beginning of the journal is a two-page list of family members, he gives the birth date of each family member, when they were born and when they died. There are also several pages of "Notes" on subjects that he found interesting. Ashley was also a member of the New Bedford Fire Department, on Jan. 2, 1861 he documents in this journal "Fire broke out on Fish Island it started at 5 o'clock p.m. & burned the oil establishment & killed two men, it was caused by a bursting tank..." The first part of the journal is quite detailed. Ashley documents everyone he calls on and all of his social engagements, including the concerts he attended. When the Civil War broke out Ashley started writing on significant war events in the left margin of some of the pages. The first marginal note was " April 15th Fort Sumter Surrendered." On the following page he makes another marginal note "April 19th Mass. Troops Marched in Baltimore." On May 24th he writes "Col. Ellsworth Shot at Alexandria."
On Monday September 30th Ashley writes " Bussage and myself enlisted in Reeds Rifle Rangers." It appears Bussage was a friend of Ashley and they joined the Army together. Apparently they enlisted in the 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry. The next four pages of the Journal are a series of more than one hundred and fifty, one and two-line entries starting from December 12, 1861 through March, 1863. According to records Allen G. Ashley became a member of the 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry in 1861. Sample entries include: "Oct. 16th arrived at Fort Monroe, at 11 1/2 O'clock a.m.; Feb. 4th Sailed from Fort Monroe at 11 o'clock; Feb 12, arrived Ship Island; Feb 26, landed 126 horses; March 8th Expedition to Biloxi lost one man one man wounded; April 16th sailed from Ship Island; May 2nd Landed in New Orleans marched past the Customs House and at last took lodgings in store house; July 4th Examined again for discharge with 4 others; Aug. 8th Funeral for General William Russell, acting orderly; Aug. 29th Escorted General Butler from ……. horse fell; Sept 6th took prisoners in swamp back of …… ; Sept 18th taken sick; Nov 30th discharged from hospital; Jan 29th examined for discharge."
The above is a small representative example of the more than one hundred and fifty entries Ashley made in this journal during his eighteen month stint in the Army. On march 11th Allen Ashley arrived in Fall River, Massachusetts. Allen Ashley went back to work with horses and in May of 1864 was driving the Hatch & Whiting Express stage between Boston and New Bedford. On November 30th Ashley "left the Express business." Between December 4th 1864 and July 15, 1865 Allen Ashley appears to have made two voyages to Matamoros Mexico. During the Civil war Matamoros (just across the Rio Grande from Brownsville Texas) was a great financial and commercial center, feeding, clothing and arming the rebellion. The confederate government was greatly sustained by the resources of this port. There are several pages of entries documenting the trips, though the reasons therefore remain speculative.
The rest of the journal documents some of the more important things that happened in Ashley's life including getting married, having a child and some of the other places that he has worked.
An invaluable primary source that documents life during the period.