Asa Moore Janney’s Civil War travel pass

Asa Moore Janney, along with daughters Ellen and Cosmelia Janney, needed a pass to travel into territory held by Union forces in May, 1863.

Eliza Janney Rawson mentions a travel pass written by President Abraham Lincoln for her father-in-law Samuel M. Janney. (See Eliza Coffin Janney Rawson page.) Most travel passes during the war did not come directly from Lincoln’s desk! Rather, they were similar to the one shown above. This pass, for Asa Moore Janney – Samuel’s younger brother and father to Lydia Janney Brown – gives us quite a bit of information. We learn that Asa was traveling with two of his daughters, Ellen and Cosmelia, somewhere near Martinsburg, Virginia, (now West Virginia) 34 miles from the village of Lincoln.

We learn Asa’s height (5’9″) age (61) eye color (gray), etc. The family group was traveling in a ‘carriage’ rather than a wagon. And, we see the strict rule of this travel pass, which we might assume is typical: the pass was only good for ‘tomorrow’ … one day. The 8th Corps didn’t want the Janneys to use the pass in an open-ended manner. Provost Marshals were army officers responsible for maintaining order among both soldiers and civilians. They had powers of arrest and frequently used those powers.

Less than one month after this pass was handed out, the 2nd Division, 8th Corps of the Federal Army suffered heavy casualties at the Second Battle of Winchester, June 13-15. Capt. Shawhan, Provost Marshal, was wounded in that battle, but recovered.

Here is an insightful mention of Captain Shawhan, in a letter written by A. Powell, a Union soldier under Shawhan’s command:

Monday night, 18th January, ‘64
Brother Israel,
I am truly glad to hear from you and the general tone of your good lengthy letter. You call my attention to several things which I take great pleasure in answering, just because you ask them. I have partly answered the interrogation about Capt. Shawhan, but will now be more lengthy. Last fall the U.S. forces here were under the command of Col. McReynolds of 1st N.Y. Cavalry. He is a regular traitor, is now undergoing a court marshal. Capt.
S.[Shawhan] was Provost Marshal at the time, and it was his duty to give passes to persons and goods going out of our lines. He would not give passes to any who would not take the oath. So, they who wished passes went to Col. Mc. who could overdo Capt. S.[Shawhan]. He would give such rebs a permit and for these permitting, Col. Mc. was arrested, as he ought to have been. Capt. [Shawhan] did most toward arresting Col. Mc. So, sometime after Mc’s. arrest, Mc’s friends, it is supposed, had Capt. [Shawhan] put under arrest for giving those passes Mc. ordered him to give. So Capt. Shawhan’s offense was “passing goods through the lines for rebels.” Capt. came out all right for he was sharp enough to secure evidence of the proper character and arrange things O.K. No one here ever waivered in their opinions or thoughts that Capt. Shawhan would favor the rebs any. If no body would give the rebs any more than Capt. Shawhan, they would not get many favors I assure you.