Leaving Something Behind!
by Morgan Gates
Nobody passes through this world without leaving something behind. Maybe something good, maybe something bad, perhaps neither good nor bad but something that will be just another piece of that great cosmic puzzle we call life. Of course, we immediately call to mind the great men and women of history. Alexander, Julius Cesar, Elizabeth I, George Washington, Madame Curie, etc. but many more have made significant contributions, most will remain forever anonymous. The prehistoric cave painters at Lascaux in France, or the first man to figure out how to work with iron for example. But we all leave something behind. Perhaps it is nothing more than a bit of genetic material, like that blonde-haired blue-eyed child that pops up in dark complexion families from time to time, or that fellow who scratches his name somewhere just because he's bored. Well, let me introduce to a man in that last category.
Private Henry Ashbaugh of the 45th Illinois was one such man. He was an ordinary man from an ordinary little village in western Illinois. An ordinary man caught up in a very UN - ordinary time in history. Mustered in on Christmas Eve of 1861 and out on December 23 of 1864. He followed Grant to Fort Donaldson, Shiloh, and on to Vicksburg. He was part of the famous Lead Mine Regiment, likely he participated in the Assault of May 22nd, it was this regiment that was dug into the hill behind the Shirly House and constructed of Logan’s Approach. They assaulted the crater at Third Louisiana Redan and when the city surrendered it was the 45th that unfurled the stars and stripe once more for the courthouse clock tower. We know few details about his life, perhaps someone does, but these details are not readily googled as they would be for U.S. Grant or other famous names from the Civil War. So why do we discuss him today? Because sometime after the digging and fighting and heroic deeds were done Private Ashbaugh was likely pulling guard duty at that the Warren County Courthouse and in a moment of boredom scratched his name in the soft slate that floors the west portico of the Old Warren County Courthouse, and that evidence of his presence is still visible 155 years later. We all leave something behind.
On September 14 & 15 The Old Courthouse Museum will present Night at the Museum a living history portrayal of historic figures form Vicksburg's past private Henry Ashbaugh will be one of the characters portrayed