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    [Maximilian Affair]. Archive of Letters from Frank Ashley comprised of twenty-three letters spanning September 1863 through November 1865 including letters from his wife, Celesta Ashley, his mother, and a friend. Frank Ashley enlisted in the 64th Ohio Volunteer Regiment in 1861 and, after four years of war, he finds himself near New Orleans and his wife is hopeful that he will be returning home soon. In a letter dated April 3, 1865, she tells Frank that word has reached Ohio from Virginia that "...Grant had in his posession [sic] Richmond Petersbugh and also had captured Lee...I think the Rebs Leaders is about played out they are conquered and they know it..." She fears, however, that he may be sent on campaign in Mexico during a period known as the French Intervention.

    In 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez declared a cease to all interest payments made on European debts owed by Mexico; angering Great Britain, Spain and France. The United States was in the midst of the Civil War, leaving the path clear for France to intervene and set up the puppet monarchy of Emperor Maximilian in 1864. In 1865, with war in the States all but ended, President Johnson sent 50,000 U. S. troops to the Mexican border in an effort to threaten the French with force. Ashley, stationed in New Orleans, writes home on June 9, 1865, believing he is headed to Texas: "...it will not be long before we will leave but what for I cannot tell but it is thought that it is a campaign in Mexico..." By the 21st of July, his chances of entering Mexico seem to be growing: "...the corps has all gone to Indianolia [Indianola] texas...it is doubtfull [sic] when we leave the 2nd Brigade Head Qrs...yet the place where we will go is on the line of Mexico & texas... Maximilian has given up those guns...but it is in the paper that our govrnment [sic] has ordered France not to land any more troops in Mexico."

    His wife remained hopeful that he would not be among those sent across the border as there is some opposition to U. S. intervention within the ranks of the army's top brass: "July 24, 1865...how willing you all were to aid our bleeding country...by twice volunteering...to risk all its defense and after four years of hard strugling [sic]...now to think that some men want to almost force you in the God forsaken service of Mexico...W[illiam] T[ecumseh] Sherman is the only man that expresses dissatisfaction about the way you have bin [sic] treated...and in a speech he made a few days ago...[he said] leave Mexico alone..." Her worry, however, was for naught. On August 6, Frank wrote home that "...I have very little nuse [sic] to write excepting that...it is reported here that the French are leaving Mexico..."

    The Second Mexican Empire lasted until 1867, when Emperor Maximilian was executed and Benito Juárez was restored to the presidency. Frank Ashley was mustered out at Victoria, Texas, on December 3, 1865. Loaded with information, the letters in this fantastic archive show the expected folds and age toning, some of which have weakened and separated in places.


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