Summary

Birth: Sep. 14, 1834 Death: Sep. 14, 1885 Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Although his actual first name was Michael, he served under his middle name of Charles. AS native of Nova Scotia, Canada, he enlisted in the Union Navy during the Civil War and served as a Quarter Gunner on board the "USS Signal". He was awarded the CMOH for his bravery in defending the "Signal" from Confederates on the Red River, Louisiana on May 5, 1864. His citation reads "Proceeding up the Red River, the USS Signal engaged a large force of enemy field batteries and sharpshooters, returning their fire until the Federal ship was totally disabled, at which time the white flag was raised. Although on the sick list, Q.G. Asten courageously carried out his duties during the engagement." After the ship was captured the crew, Gunner Asten among them, were interred in the Camp Ford Prisoner of War camp, which was near Tyler, Texas, until they were exchanged. He was awarded his Medal on December 31, 1864.

Birth:
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14 Sep 1885 1
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Quarter Gunner Michael Charles Asten Navy Headstone
Quarter Gunner Michael Charles Asten Navy Headstone
Saint Francis Cemetery Pawtucket Providence County Rhode Island, USA Plot: Section 22, Lot 111 GPS (lat/lon): 41.86451, -71.40865
Quarter Gunner Michael Charles Asten Navy Headstone
Quarter Gunner Michael Charles Asten Navy Headstone
Saint Francis Cemetery Pawtucket Providence County Rhode Island, USA Plot: Section 22, Lot 111 GPS (lat/lon): 41.86451, -71.40865
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Michael Charles Asten 1
Birth:
Nova Scotia, Canada 1
Birth:
14 Sep 1834 1
Male 1
Death:
14 Sep 1885 1
Burial:
Burial Place: Saint Francis Cemetery Pawtucket Providence County Rhode Island, USA Plot: Section 22, Lot 111 GPS (lat/lon): 41.86451, 1
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Occupation:
Quarter Gunner 1
CMOH Awarded:
31 Dec 1864 1

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Quarter Gunner Michael Charles Asten Navy

Birth:  Sep. 14, 1834 Death:  Sep. 14, 1885
Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Although his actual first name was Michael, he served under his middle name of Charles. AS native of Nova Scotia, Canada, he enlisted in the Union Navy during the Civil War and served as a Quarter Gunner on board the "USS Signal". He was awarded the CMOH for his bravery in defending the "Signal" from Confederates on the Red River, Louisiana on May 5, 1864. His citation reads "Proceeding up the Red River, the USS Signal engaged a large force of enemy field batteries and sharpshooters, returning their fire until the Federal ship was totally disabled, at which time the white flag was raised. Although on the sick list, Q.G. Asten courageously carried out his duties during the engagement." After the ship was captured the crew, Gunner Asten among them, were interred in the Camp Ford Prisoner of War camp, which was near Tyler, Texas, until they were exchanged. He was awarded his Medal on December 31, 1864.

 

Quarter Gunner Michael Charles Asten Navy

Charles Asten From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Charles Asten Birth name Michael Charles Asten Born September 14, 1834
Halifax, Nova Scotia Died September 14, 1885 (aged 51)
Halifax, Nova Scotia Allegiance  United States Service/branch United States Navy Rank Quarter Gunner Battles/wars

American Civil War

Awards Medal of Honor[1]

Charles Asten (born Michael Charles Asten, but served under his middle name)[2] (September 14, 1834 – September 14, 1885)[3] was a Quarter Gunner in the United States Navy during the American Civil War. Asten was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in September 1834, and he entered the United States Navy in Chicago, Illinois, during the Civil War.[1][3] In 1864, he served aboard the USS Signal, a U.S. tinclad,[2] during the Red River Campaign.[1]

Contents Signal incident

On May 4, 1864, the USS Signal was ordered to proceed up the Red River with a bearer of dispatches from Major General Nathaniel Prentice Banks,[4] the commander of the Union Red River Campaign forces. After traversing about 20 miles (32 km) on the river, the USS Signal met Confederate forces, and the ensuing conflict, which also involved the USS Covington and Army transport ship John Warner, continued into the night.[4] On May 5, the Signal was disabled and the crew, including Asten, reluctantly abandoned the ship; having surrendered, they were captured on land.[4][not in citation given]

Aftermath

Asten, who had, on May 5, carried out his duties despite being on the sick list, was awarded the Medal of Honor on December 31, 1864.[1] George Butts, a fellow Signal crew member, also received a Medal of Honor for his valor during the action.[3]

Charles Asten died on September 14, 1885, in Nova Scotia.[2] He was interred at Saint Francis Cemetery in Providence County, Rhode Island.[3]

 

USS Signal (1862)

USS Signal (1862) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search For other ships of the same name, see USS Signal.
USS Signal tinclad, circa 1863–64 Career Laid down: date unknown Launched: 1862 in Wheeling, West Virginia In service: circa 22 October 1862 Out of service: 19 April 1864 Struck: 1864 (est.) Fate: scuttled, 19 April 1864 General characteristics Displacement: 190 tons Length: 157 ft (48 m) Beam: 30 ft (9.1 m) Draft: 1 ft 10 in (0.56 m) Depth of hold: 4 ft 4 in (1.32 m) Propulsion: steam engine
stern wheel-propelled Armament: two 30-pounder Parrott rifles
four 24-pounder howitzers
two 12-pounder Dahlgren rifles

USS Signal (1862) — a small 190-ton steamship — was acquired during the second year of the American Civil War by the Union Navy and outfitted as a gunboat. She also served other types of duty, such as that of dispatch vessel and convoy escort.

Contents Built in West Virginia in 1862

The first ship to be named Signal by the Navy—a wooden-hulled, stern-wheel steamer built in 1862 at Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia)—was purchased by the U.S. Navy on 22 September 1862 at Saint Louis, Missouri.

Civil War service Mississippi River operations

Although no record of her commissioning has been found, it is known that she was in operation on 22 October 1862, when she departed Carondelet, Missouri and headed down the Mississippi River to join in the campaign against the Confederate river fortress at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Acting Volunteer Lieutenant John Scott was mentioned as her commanding officer in an order issued on 14 November and presumably commanded the ship from the start of her service.

Signal's first weeks were devoted to duty as a dispatch vessel. On 29 November, she and Marmora entered the Yazoo River on a reconnaissance expedition and ascended that stream some 21 miles. From time to time, riflemen fired upon the ships from the river banks; but, in each instance, the ships shelled and dispersed the attackers. That afternoon, the ships returned to the Mississippi unharmed.

Yazoo River operations

Signal's work for the day steaming up and down shallow, winding streams in hostile territory was a sample of the service she would perform throughout her career. She and Marmora again ascended the Yazoo on 11 December to obtain information needed for a projected joint Army-Navy expedition in that area to outflank Vicksburg, Mississippi. They discovered Confederates had placed torpedoes (mines) in the channel and returned to report and to volunteer to destroy the explosive devices.

The next morning, accompanied by USS Cairo, USS Pittsburgh, and USS Queen of the West, they returned up the Yazoo to destroy the "infernal machines." During this early mine sweeping operation, one of the torpedoes exploded under Cairo, and she sank 12 minutes later. Cairo was the first of over 40 Union ships to be torpedoed during the Civil War. The expedition returned to the Mississippi after dark that evening bringing the survivors from Cairo.

Operations on the White River

On 4 January 1863, Signal got underway in an expedition up the White River to attack Fort Hindman, which surrendered on the 11th, after a three-day battle. About a month later, Signal made a reconnaissance up the White River and brought back information of the military situation at Little Rock, Arkansas.

Late in February, Signal returned to the Yazoo and devoted most of her time probing that stream until Vicksburg fell on 4 July.

Return to Mississippi patrolling

During the ensuing months, Signal served as a dispatch vessel and patrolled the Mississippi to interdict Confederate commerce especially from the Red River. On 8 December 1863, Signal and USS Neosho defended disabled merchant steamer Henry Von Phul, which had been shelled by a Southern shore battery.

On 19 April 1864, Signal was ordered to ascend the Red River to Alexandria, Louisiana to protect coal and provision barges waiting there for the use of the flotilla of gunboats Rear Admiral David D. Porter had led farther upstream in the campaign known as the Red River Expedition.

On 4 May, Signal was ordered "to take on board a bearer of dispatches from Mayor General Nathaniel Prentice Banks and proceed down the river..." About 20 miles down stream, the ship was fired upon by Confederate cavalrymen, and she returned the fire with her starboard guns. The engagement continued intermittently until she reached USS Covington and Army transport John Warner some four more miles below.

Signal burns and crew is captured

Signal rounded to and made fast to the stern of Covington, and both ships continued to engage the Confederates throughout the day and night. At daylight, the three ships got underway; but, upon rounding Dunn's Bayou, John Warner's whistle signaled "enemy in sight." Artillery and small arms fire soon disabled the transport which drifted ashore blocking the channel below the gunboats.

In the ensuing battle, Signal was disabled and ran aground where she was reluctantly set afire and abandoned by her crew which was captured ashore. The two other ships were also lost. However, most of the crew of Covington, along with Covington's captain, managed to escape and make its way back to safety at Alexandria, Louisiana.

Fate of the crew

Signal's captured crew was held at the Camp Ford prisoner of war camp near Tyler, Texas. The prisoner exchange lists show thirty-nine men from this vessel as being exchanged from this camp. Six of the crew members, Quarter Gunner Charles Asten, Gunner's Mate George Butts, Seaman John Hyland, Seaman Timothy O'Donoghue, Boatswain's Mate Michael McCormick, and Pilot Perry Wilkes, were awarded the Medal of Honor for their conduct during the ship's final engagement on the Red River.[1]

See also American Civil War portal United States Navy portal Military of the United States portal References

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

  1. ^ Smith, Myron J. (2010). Tinclads in the Civil War. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-7864-3579-1.
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