Ashby, Turner Letters, 1852-1863

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Summary Information

Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Ashby Family
Turner Ashby Letters
Collection No.:
SC 0107
3 folders, .16 Cubic Feet
Language of the Material:
The Turner Ashby Letters consist of 28 letters, a petition, and two portrait photographs of Turner Ashby.

Preferred Citation

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

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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.

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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.

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Administrative Information

Revision Description

Converted to schema conforming EAD by dtd2schema.vh.xsl.Edited by Cara Lundgren 2013-11-21March 2014

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 University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

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.


Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

880 Madison DriveMSC 1704Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807library-special@jmu.eduURL:

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Index Terms

Genre and Form

  • Letters (correspondence)


  • Ashby, Turner, 1828-1862
  • Ashby, Turner, 1828-1862 -- Correspondence
  • Ashby, Richard, 1831-1861
  • Ashby, Richard, 1831-1861 -- Correspondence
  • Ashby family -- Correspondence
  • Moncure family -- Correspondence
  • Confederate States of America. Army. Virginia Cavalry Regiment, 7th
  • Confederate States of America. Army -- Biography
  • Slaves -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History -- 19th century
  • Plantation life -- Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History -- 19th century
  • Generals -- Southern States -- Biography
  • Bull Run, 1st Battle of, Va., 1861
  • Shenandoah Valley Campaign, 1861
  • Shenandoah Valley Campaign, 1862
  • Harrisonburg (Va.), Battle of, 1862
  • Confederate States of America -- History, Military -- Sources
  • United States -- Armed Forces -- Biography
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
  • Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History -- Sources
  • Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
  • Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century
  • Shenandoah River Valley (Va. and W. Va.) -- Genealogy -- Sources
  • Virginia -- History, Local -- 19th century -- Sources
  • Virginia -- History, Local -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
  • Virginia -- History -- 19th century -- Social life and customs
  • Rockingham County (Va.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865

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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.

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Collection Inventory

Title/Description Instances
Dated Letters, 1852-1863 box 1 folder 1
"D.F.A" to "My dear Child", August 1852

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.]

"M Allen" to "My dear Madam", Aug. 9, 1853

Reply to a letter to Bettie who was ill; plans of different friends; some speakers from Baltimore.

"Dora" to "My darling Mother", Oct. 27, 1853

A recount of opera, Crystal Palace, & Lt. Nicholas' house suggest trip to New York City. [Dora is the sister of Turner Ashby.]

From unsigned to "My dearest Mol-", July 28, 1854

Written at Argyle; concerns home affairs at Clarke including a drought in the corn, sickness, babies, and servants.

"Turner Ashby" to "Dear Dora", Jan. 14, 1861

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.

"Richard Ashby" to "Dear Mama", March 12, [1861]

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.]

"We the undersigned Ladies of Shepherdstown, Jefferson County, Va" to "Lt. Col. Ashby", [After June 16, 1861]

written at a camp near Duffins Depot. Petition for protection from the enemy by having one or two companies stationed there.

Wednesday morning "Dora" to "My Dear Beck" at Markham, [Before July 3, 1861]

Report of weddings, response to kind letter and trip. Describes bachelor dinners given to TA before his return to Washington.

"Mary C. Braxton" to "Mr. Ashby" [Turner], July 15, 1861

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.]

"Dora Ashby" to "Dearest Mary", [Before July 22, 1861]

[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.]

"Dora Moncure" to "My dearest brother" [Turner], July 22, [1861]

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.

"Dora" to "My Dear Mother" at Chelsea [on back: Mrs. D. F. Ashby], [July 1861]

Suggests moving and in Dora's state of health cannot take care of the servants. Mentions an overseer; news of Manassas.

"Fanny Ashby" to "My Dear Mary" [on back: Mrs. Mary Moncure], [July 1861]

Concerns about family members; sadness at Mary not coming to Ravenswood. [Cousin of Turner] waiting to hear news of Manassas.

"Harriette Caputon"[?] to [on envelope dated Sept. 5 from Union Va: Mrs. Dora A. Moncure], from Elwood., Sept. 4, [1861]

Grief at loss of Dora's brother [probably Richard], her "life's happiness". Concern for D.F.A.'s illness.

"Turner Ashby" to "Dear Dora" written at Camp Lookout., Sept. 6, 1861

Tells of camp duties, skirmishes with the enemy and casualties Ends with "give love to Mary." TRANSCRIPTION available in folder.

"Harriette Caputon"[?] to [D.F.Ashby] from Elmwoood., Oct. 4, [1861]

Grieves over loss of [Richard]; encouragement that remaining children can be her comfort.

Friday Evening "Harriete Caputon"[?] to [on envelope: Mrs. Dora A. Moncure] written from Elmwood., [Oct. 5 1861]

Response to Dora's letter. Encouraging thoughts for families; grief over [Richard's] death.

"Dora" to "my sweet sister.", Oct. 21, [1861]

Describes home life & having enough to get by. Mentions Fanny as a sister. Good relations with neighbors and friends.

"Dora Moncure" to "My Dear Sister" [on back: Mrs. George W. Moncure Chelsea], [Dec. 25, 1861]

Family matters. Gift exchange on Christmas and bad road conditions. Prescription from Dr. Rase for mother.

Tuesday "Dora Moncure" to "My Dearest Sister" written from Ravenswood., [Before June 6, 1862]

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.

Monday "Susan Shacklett" to "My dear Dora" written from Richmond, [After June 6, 1862]

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.

"Bettie A.[?] Green" [cousin] to "My dear Dora" written from Mountain View, March 2, [1863?]

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.]

Undated Letters, Undated box 1 folder 2
Monday Eve "Dora" to "My Own Dear Sister" [on back:Mrs. George Moncure], Undated

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, Undated

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], Undated

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, Undated

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", Undated

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], Undated

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", Undated

An invitation to D.F. Ashby to come with Dora and convalesce in quietude.

Photographs, Undated

Two photos of portraits of Turner Ashby--one with "C.W. Alexander" in lower right corner.

box 1 folder 3