Letters from the Front

By John Fazio
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2009, All Rights Reserved

About the Letters

The following letters were given to one of our members by a kindly fellow from Tallmadge, Ohio, named Bob Lowry, after the member addressed a group there. They appear to have been written in 1862 from Ft. Scott, Kansas, by a Union soldier named George C. Ashmun, who was from Tallmadge, though some of his letters were addressed to West Virginia and Indiana, too. Interestingly, there are still Ashmuns living in Tallmadge. Additionally, a Google search revealed a publication in Ohio Mollus – Sketches of War History, Vol. Two, transcribed by Larry Stevens, titled “Recollections of a Peculiar Service,” by Second Lieutenant George C. Ashmun. This may or may not be our Ashmun, though an intelligent guess is that it is.

All punctuation and spelling were left as in the originals.

About the Letters’ Author

George Coates Ashmun

This is what is known about George Ashmun. He was born on January 31, 1841 in Tallmadge, Ohio. During the Civil War, he served as a musician in the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry and was then recruited into a special Ohio unit charged with providing personal bodyguard services to President Lincoln. He was a lieutenant in this unit and took part in Lincoln’s second inauguration. After the war, he became a physician, described as an “allopath,” specializing in public health. He was educated at Tallmadge Academy and the School of Medicine of Western Reserve College (now Case Western Reserve University), graduating in 1873, and was affiliated with St. Vincent’s Hospital. He taught at the University of Wooster Medical Department, Charity Hospital Medical College, Western Reserve College School of Medicine, and Cleveland Medical College. He later served as a surgeon in the Spanish-American War with the 5th Ohio Infantry. During World War I, he served with the Case School unit of the Students Army Training Corps. He died on June 25, 1929 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

About the Letters’ Setting

Fort Scott was named in honor of General Winfield Scott and established on May 30, 1842 at the Marmoton crossing of the Fort Leavenworth – Fort Gibson military road.

Fort Scott, Kansas

It was among nine forts originally planned to line the area between the Great Lakes and New Orleans to separate proposed Indian lands and white settlements. Normal daily activities included the general construction of the fort and drill by Dragoons (horse soldiers). On occasion, mapmaking expeditions were made. The post was virtually abandoned in April 1853 when the garrison was transferred to Fort Riley and other western posts. The buildings were sold at public auction on May 16, 1855 as the government did not own the land. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Fort Scott was reactivated in March 1862 and again assumed importance as a military outpost. In 1865, the fort was once again abandoned.