A Guide to the

Turner Ashby Letters, 1852-1863

Collection Number SC 0107

Compiled by:
Barbara Padgett, December 1992

Revised by: Cara Lundgren, March 2014


Descriptive Summary


Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: Turner Ashby Letters, 1852-1863

Collection No.: SC 0107
Creator: Ashby Family

Extent: 3 folders; 0.16 cubic feet

Language: English

Abstract: The Turner Ashby Letters consist of 28 letters, a petition, and two portrait photographs of Turner Ashby.


Administrative Information


Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison Univeristy Special Collections library. For more information, contact the Special Collections LIbrary Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Preferred Citation: [identification of item], [box #, folder #], Turner Ashby Letters, SC 0107, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg Va.

Acquisition information: Placed on deposit by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society in September 1992.

Other Formats Available: Transcriptions of a selection of letters are included in the collection.
Processing Information: In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 2087.

Bio/Historical Note: Turner Ashby was a Confederate cavalry commander during the Civil War. He was born in Fauquier County Virginia. where he became an accomplished horseman. Sometimes called the "Black Knight of the Confederacy" Ashby was responsible for guarding the Potomac River from Harpers Ferry to Maryland. This was in part to help Maryland men with Confederate leanings join the Confederacy. Ashby was to serve with Stonewall Jackson. During the Valley Campaign, Ashby was shot in the Battle of Good's Farm. He had been appointed Brigadier General at this time, but it was never confirmed by the Confederate Senate.


Scope and Content: This collection consists of 28 letters (a few with envelopes), a petition, and two portrait photographs of Turner Ashby. The letters comprise correspondence between relatives of Turner Ashby including his mother, Dorothea F. Ashby; his sisters, Mary and Dora (both later married to Moncures); cousins; and friends of the family. Two letters are penned by Turner Ashby. These two letters plus one from "D.A.M." have been transcribed; transcriptions are available in the folder.


Bushong, Millard K. General Turner Ashby and Stonewall's Campaign. Verona, VA: McClure Printing Co. Inc., 1980.

Cunningham, Frank. Knight of the Confederacy: General Turner Ashby. San Antonio, TX: Naylor Co., 1960.

Arangement: The collection is arranged chronologically.

Contents List:

Folder 1: Dated Letters, 1852-1863
August 1852 "D.F.A" to "My dear Child". Explains what Turner Ashby is doing as he stays at Mrs.Grayson's house. There is mention of a gathering at the Spring and the expected arrival of Mary. [D.F.A. is probably Dorothea F. Ashby, Turner's mother.]
Aug. 9, 1853 "M Allen" to "My dear Madam". Reply to a letter to Bettie who was ill; plans of different friends; some speakers from Baltimore.
Oct. 27, 1853 "Dora" to "My darling Mother". A recount of opera, Crystal Palace, & Lt. Nicholas' house suggest trip to New York City. [Dora is the sister of Turner Ashby.]
July 28, 1854 From unsigned to "My dearest Mol-". Written at Argyle; concerns home affairs at Clarke including a drought in the corn, sickness, babies, and servants.
Jan. 14, 1861 "Turner Ashby" to "Dear Dora" written at Raven's Craig. Hopes to get off for a couple of weeks; gives Dora authority to sign his name concerning the sale of a servant, Louisa; engagement of Milly Stribling [a friend of the family]. TRANSCRIPTION available in folder.
March 12, [1861] "Richard Ashby" to "Dear Mama" written from Richmond. Expresses sadness because won't be coming to Stafford although happy in Richmond. Special remembrances to the servants. [Richard is brother of Turner.]
[After June 16, 1861] "We the undersigned Ladies of Shepherdstown, Jefferson County, Va" to "Lt. Col. Ashby", written at a camp near Duffins Depot. Petition for protection from the enemy by having one or two companies stationed there.
[Before July 3, 1861] Wednesday morning "Dora" to "My Dear Beck" at Markham. Report of weddings, response to kind letter and trip. Describes bachelor dinners given to TA before his return to Washington.
July 15, 1861 "Mary C. Braxton" to "Mr. Ashby" [Turner] written from Elmwood. Condolences for the death of the recipient's brother [probably Richard, on July 3, 1861] during battle; faith of her sister, Harrity, who is taking the death of her idol very hard. [Mary C. Braxton is a friend of the family.]
[Before July 22, 1861] "Dora Ashby" to "Dearest Mary" [on back: Mrs. Mary Moncure] written from Ravenswood to Chelsea. Bad weather has kept her from going back to school [to teach]; a party where Annie is flirting like a belle; hi to Mammy and all the servants. In an additional note, D. F. Ashby accepts invitation to move to Chelsea. [Mary is also Turner's sister.]
July 22, [1861] "Dora Moncure" to "My dearest brother" [Turner] written at Ravenswood. Expresses thanks for the sparing of brother's life at Manassas. Death of brother, Dick, [Richard] who was engaged. Mr. [Powhatan] Moncure is too sick to be drafted.
[July 1861] "Dora" to "My Dear Mother" at Chelsea[on back: Mrs. D. F. Ashby]. Suggests moving and in Dora's state of health cannot take care of the servants. Mentions an overseer; news of Manassas.
[July 1861] "Fanny Ashby" to "My Dear Mary" [on back: Mrs. Mary Moncure]. Concerns about family members; sadness at Mary not coming to Ravenswood. [Cousin of Turner] waiting to hear news of Manassas.
Sept. 4, [1861] "Harriette Caputon"[?] to [on envelope dated Sept. 5 from Union Va: Mrs. Dora A. Moncure], from Elwood. Grief at loss of Dora's brother [probably Richard], her "life's happiness." Concern for D.F.A.'s illness.
Sept. 6, 1861 "Turner Ashby" to "Dear Dora" written at Camp Lookout. Tells of camp duties, skirmishes with the enemy and casualties Ends with "give love to Mary." TRANSCRIPTION available in folder.
Oct. 4, [1861] "Harriette Caputon"[?] to [D.F.Ashby] from Elmwoood. Grieves over loss of [Richard]; encouragement that remaining children can be her comfort.
[Oct. 5, 1861] Friday Evening "Harriete Caputon"[?] to [on envelope: Mrs. Dora A. Moncure] written from Elmwood. Response to Dora's letter. Encouraging thoughts for families; grief over [Richard's] death.
Oct 21, [1861] "Dora" to "my sweet sister." Describes home life & having enough to get by. Mentions Fanny as a sister. Good relations with neighbors and friends.
[Dec. 25, 1861] "Dora Moncure" to "My Dear Sister" [on back: Mrs. George W. Moncure Chelsea]. Family matters. Gift exchange on Christmas and bad road conditions. Prescription from Dr. Rase for mother.
[Before June 6, 1862] Tuesday "Dora Moncure" to "My Dearest Sister" written from Ravenswood. Tells of letters from Robbie and news of Turner and George dispelling rumors of Turner's death. A visit from a Presbyterian Chaplain and other family matters.
[After June 6, 1862] Monday "Susan Shacklett" to "My dear Dora" written from Richmond. Inquiry about the family since the Yankees had raided them; Turner as one of the greatly loved Generals; the place where he fell near Harrisonburg.
March 2, [1863?] "Bettie A.[?] Green" [cousin] to "My dear Dora" written from Mountain View. Dining at Markham [previously Rose Bank, home of the Ashbys]. Acquaintances and health of herself and mother. [Green was D.F.A.'s maiden name.]


Folder 2: Undated Letters, undated
Monday Eve "Dora" to "My Own Dear Sister" [on back:Mrs. George Moncure]. Story of soldier's death at sister's home. Concern for sister's health and Robbie.
Friday Eve [Dec.] "Dora" to "My Dear Sister" written from Chestnut Hill. Moving back to Ravenswood. Christmas dinner, exhausted after childbirth, impatience with Milly, a black woman.
Tuesday night "D.A.M." [Dora A. Moncure] to "My own Dear Sister" [Mary]. Describes cough and sickness. Neighbors helping, talk of servants leaving but can't get along without one. George is in Mountain View. TRANSCRIPTION available in folder.
Tuesday "Dora Moncure" to "My Dearest Sister" [Mary] witten from Ravenswood. Newborn baby of Mary; asks her to consider having Miss Eliza Harry come up to take care of the family and nurse the child. Describes food sent.

Saturday, the 10th "Dora" to "My Dear Mother". Log of the trip back from Chelsea. Explains house chores and visitors.

[Undated] "Vic"[?] to "Dear Cousin Mary" [on back: Mrs. George V. Moncure Chelsea]. Staying with Aunt Ashby; mentions family members; an invitation to come to their house after children's sickness; Dora's baby boy.

[Undated] "PM" [possibly Powhatan Moncure, Dora's husband] to "My Dearest Bet". An invitation to D.F. Ashby to come with Dora and convalesce in quietude.


Folder 3: Photographs, undated
[Undated] Two photos of portraits of Turner Ashby--one with "C.W. Alexander" in lower right corner.