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|Image provided courtesy of Bill Russo|
34-year-old Ashley was a Baptist minister in Gardner, Mass., before enlisting in the 53rd in Sept., 1862. Commissioned Captain, he commanded the 94 men of Co. G. The regiment mustered in Oct. 17 for nine months.
In Jan. 1863, the regiment embarked on the transport ship Continental for New Orleans, arriving Jan. 30 after a stormy passage. The regiment was assigned to the third brigade, third division of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks XIX Corps. Ashley and his regiment spent six weeks drilling and improving discipline before being ordered to Baton Rouge in early March, skirmishing with Confederate pickets along the way. On April 9, Capt. Ashley was sent to the hospital suffering with chills, fever, a swollen leg and ankles. Five days later, the regiment participated in the attack on Fort Brisland. The 53rd was under fire for five hours and was the first Union force to plant their regimental flag on the fort�s ramparts.
Ashley rejoined his regiment on May 13. He was emaciated, hollow-chested and shaky. Unable to lead, he turned over command to his lieutenants. Although his health was broken, Capt. Ashley served out the remainder of his enlistment and mustered out with the survivors of the 53rd Sept. 2, 1863.
Ashley returned to his wife and ministry in Gardner. He did not regain his health, suffering from a persistent cough and being unable to perform manual labor. A chest cold in 1887 resulted in chronic discharges of pus and blood. After 1888, he experienced feelings of suffocation related to a heart ailment. He slept most of the time in a chair, bringing him some relief. Ashley died Nov. 29, 1893, and was buried in Green Bower Cemetery, Gardner.
History of Massachusetts in the Civil War, by William Schouler, pp 471-473, E. P. Dutton and Co., publisher, 1868.
Sources: National Archives Military and Pension Records