Henry Marshall Ashby

Henry Marshall Ashby was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, in 1836, the son of Marshall and Lucinda (Cocke) Ashby and the first cousin of future Confederate Brigadier General Turner Ashby. Ashby attended William and Mary College from 1853 to 1854, but did not graduate. His prewar career is obscure, but by 1860 he was making a living as a "trader" in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The outbreak of the war found him a guest at his uncle's home in Knoxville, Tennessee. Enlisting on July 6, 1861, Ashby organized a company of cavalry in Knoxville and was immediately elected its captain, This unit was later Company C of the 4th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, which was merged with another battalion to form the 2nd Tennessee Cavalry. On May 24, 1862, Ashby was elected colonel of the newly formed 2nd, which helped guard east Tennessee during 1862 and 1863, and generally served in the cavalry brigade of Brigadier General John Pegram. Ashby participated in three raids into Union-held Kentucky during this period. In one raid Colonel Ashby was shot in the foot and lost the bones in his right heel. Pegram's brigade joined the Army of Tennessee for the Battle of Stone's River (December 31,1862, to January 2,1863), where Ashby's regiment helped destroy a wagon train in the rear of the Union army. Pegram's brigade rejoined the Army of Tennessee in time for the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19 to 20,1863). After this battle Ashby's regiment remained with the Army of Tennessee. During the 1864 Atlanta campaign he was assigned to command a brigade of four Tennessee cavalry regiments in Brigadier General William Y. C. Humes's division. With this brigade Ashby helped oppose the Union army's advance on Atlanta and delay its subsequent March to the Sea. A "born soldier" "who always put himself in front" during a charge,2 Ashby became an especial favorite of Major General Joseph Wheeler, commander of the Army of Tennessee's cavalry corps. During the 1865 Carolinas campaign Ashby again harassed the advance of Major General William T. Sherman's Union army. When General Humes was wounded in March of 1865, Ashby, as senior colonel, was put in charge of Humes's division, which he led at the Battle of Bentonville and through to the final surrender.

After the war Ashby briefly visited New York City, then returned to Knoxville. He was killed there on July 10,1868, shot to death on Main Street by E. C. Camp, a local lawyer, during a quarrel. Colonel Ashby is buried in Old Gray Cemetery, in Knoxville.

Ashby was termed a general in the April, 1865, official report of his corps commander, Major General Joseph Wheeler, which has been followed by subsequent writers. General Wheeler had unofficially received word from friends in the War Department that generals' commissions for three colonels in his corps,4 including Ashby, had been issued, but that the commissions had never been delivered because of uncertainty, in the last day of the war, over where to send them. Ashby ended the war a colonel, signing a May 3, 1865, parole as "Colonel, commanding Division."

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Reference:  More Generals in Gray.  Bruce S. Allardice.  A companion volume to Generals in Gray.  Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.