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Charles Asten
Birth name Michael Charles Asten
Born (1834-09-14)September 14, 1834
Died September 14, 1885(1885-09-14) (aged 51)
Place of birth Halifax, Nova Scotia
Place of death Halifax, Nova Scotia
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Rank Quarter Gunner

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]

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]


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]

Full citation

Aster's Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

"Served on board the U.S.S. Signal, Red River, 5 May 1864. Proceeding up the Red River, the U.S.S. 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 entire engagement."[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients - (A-L)". U.S. Army Center of Military History. http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/civwaral.html. Retrieved 25 December 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Smith, Myron J. (2009). Tinclads in the Civil War: Union Light-Draught Gunboat Operations on Western Waters, 1862-1865. McFarland. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-7864-3579-1. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Michael Charles Asten". Find A Grave Memorial. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7157956. Retrieved 22 January 2011. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Signal I". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. United States Navy. http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s12/signal_i.htm. Retrieved 22 January 2011. 

External links

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