Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Isaac Jackson Papers, 1862-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, March 1997

Summary Information
Title: Isaac Jackson papers
Creator: Jackson, Isaac, 1842-1903
Inclusive dates: 1862-1865
Extent: 95 items
Abstract:
Isaac Jackson's letters provide details about the daily life of a soldier in the 83rd Ohio Infantry, with particularly good descriptions of the Vicksburg Campaign, the Teche expedition, and the munitions explosion in Mobile, Ala.

Language: The material is in English.
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated, 1961. M-1184.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Alternate Format:

The Jackson papers were published almost in their entirety in Some of the Boys: The Civil War Letters of Isaac Jackson 1862-1865, ed. by Joseph O. Jackson (Carbondale, Illinois, 1960). Bell Wiley's foreword contains an excellent description of the collection.

Provenance:

The Isaac Jackson papers were donated to the Clements Library in 1961 through the generosity of Isaac's grandson, Joseph O. Jackson.

Preferred Citation:

Isaac Jackson papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Jackson, Isaac, 1842-1903

Rank : Private

Regiment : 83rd Ohio Infantry Regiment. Co. D (1862-1865) 17th Ohio Light Artillery Battery (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August-1865

After receiving a cursory education in his hometown of Harrison, Ohio, Isaac Jackson was apprenticed out as a tinsmith. Before he had completed his term, however, he volunteered to fight for the sake of the Union. A patriotic young man filled with religious notions of right and wrong and a strong sense of duty to his country, Jackson enlisted as a private in Co. D, 83rd Ohio Infantry.

Though rushed into northern Kentucky in September, 1862, to counter Braxton Bragg's threat to invade the north, the 83rd Infantry remained in the rear guard for over a year, drilling and preparing for active campaigning. While bullets could not find Jackson, constipation of the bowels did, and while he was not critically ill, he remained hospitalized from October through early December. Upon Jackson's return to the ranks, he found his regiment -- now attached to the 10th Division, 13th A.C. -- in low spirits, but finally heading for the front. They were detailed as skirmishers during the Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs, and almost immediately afterwards, were sent to take part in the expedition against Arkansas Post (Fort Hindman). From there, Jackson was thrust into the thick of the Vicksburg Campaign, becoming part of Grant's force that crossed the Mississippi at Grand Gulf and went on to the Battles of Jackson, Champion's Hill, and Big Black River, before investing the city from the east. As success followed military success, Jackson's spirits soared.

At the battle of Champion's Hill, the 83rd Ohio came to the assistance of the beleaguered 17th Ohio Light Artillery, and Jackson and several of his fellow soldiers were temporarily remanded to duty to assist the battery. Thus Jackson experienced most of the actual siege of Vicksburg from an artilleryman's perspective, enjoying the artillery service more than the infantry increasingly as their cannons bore down on the doomed, but deeply entrenched Confederates. Though shells burst all around him, and though he watched the devastation inflicted by his guns, there is little sense that he felt any real danger or that he ever doubted that the federal army would emerge victorious from the city. For Jackson, Vicksburg was a slow, but euphoric walk in the south, even though he never completely lost sight of the hard work and blood that made it so. He and his comrades came to prefer life as artillerists so much more than as foot soldiers that when ordered to return to their regiment, they refused, and apparently (temporarily) won out.

After the fall of Vicksburg, Jackson was again involved in combat at Jackson (Miss.), and later in the year formed part of the confused and comparatively unproductive Teche operations of October, 1863. Succeeding in obtaining a 30 day furlough in February, 1864, he considered himself fortunate to miss the Red River expedition, and upon returning to Louisiana in April, he spent several slow months in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, eating well and enjoying himself in the warmth, even after being ordered to rejoin the 83rd Infantry in June, 1864. Always a strong Union man, he took a keen interest in the unfolding politics of occupied Louisiana, and was a Republican stalwart in a regiment that, in his opinion, sported too many a copperhead. With his brother, Moses, having enlisted (apparently in a 100 days regiment), leaving his sisters and parents alone at home, he wondered out loud, "Is it any wonder that the soldiers do not like the "Copperheads," when they are trying by every means to counteract every move for the salvation of our "country"?" (1864 September 9).

With the exception of a brief expedition up the White River, the 83rd Ohio Infantry remained in quiet circumstances in occupied Louisiana and Mississippi until January, 1865, when they were consolidated with the 48th Ohio Infantry and sent to Fort Barrancas, Fla., to participate in the campaign against Mobile. They assisted in the capture of Fort Blakeley and Mobile, and were later posted in Selma, Ala., before mustering out on July 24, 1865.

Isaac Jackson's family included his parents, his brothers John, Jr., Ethan A. (whose wife was named Mary); Moses (also a soldier, married to Phoebe), and sisters Sarah and Ruth. Several years after returning home, Isaac married a much younger woman, Amanda Mott (1855-1942). He died at their home in Chicago in 1903, while Amanda survived until the age of 87.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Isaac Jackson papers are an outstanding example of the Civil War correspondence of an ordinary soldier. While Jackson may not have been a literary giant, and while he was "merely" a rank private, his letters are crammed with interesting details about the daily lives and extraordinary moments of a soldier's life. Although possessed of deep moral convictions and a keen interest in the politics of his fragmenting country, Jackson was not inclined to introspection or lengthy moralizing. His letters are instead chronicles of his activities -- all of his activities -- spiced with his thoughts of the moment. Whether lamenting the lack of patriotism at home, extolling the virtues of southern fruits and vegetables, or discussing his meals, Jackson brings a keen eye for observation to nearly every topic. His observations on the southern citizenry, camp life and regimental politics, or the movements of troops are evocative and unfailingly interesting, and the last letter in the collection (1865 May 28) is one of the best descriptions available of the massive munitions explosion that rocked Mobile.

The most detailed letters in the collection are those written during the Vicksburg Campaign, and particularly during the siege, proper, when Jackson was almost constantly occupied with military matters. His letters from the Teche expedition are equally important, and are perhaps more so, in that they document a far lesser known series of events. Throughout, Jackson maintained an optimistic, even cheerful attitude, and unlike many of his fellow soldiers, seldom elected to focus on the blood in which he was immersed.

The Jackson papers were edited by Isaac's grandson, Joseph, and published almost in their entirety in 1961 (see above for reference). Seven letters that currently reside in the Clements' collections were not included (1862 August 14, 18, 22, 25; 1863 April 23; 1864 September 4; and 1865 May 28), two of which (1863 April 23 and 1864 September 4) were written by William Hedges, a friend in the 83rd Ohio. Two letters contained in the published volume were not included in the donation, 1862 November 1 (to Ethan A. Jackson), and 1863 February 27 (to Sarah Jackson).

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 83rd (1862-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Siege, 1863.
    • Louisiana--Description and travel.
    • Mobile (Ala.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.
    • Presidents--United States--Election--1864.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   16.1 Schoff Civil War Soldiers' Letters  
    Isaac Jackson papers,  1862 August 14-1865 May 28 [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Jackson, Isaac; ed. Joseph O. Jackson. Some of the Boys: The Civil War Letters of Isaac Jackson 1862-1865 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1960).

    Bibliography

    Marshall, Thomas B. History of the Eighty-third Ohio volunteer infantry... (Cincinnati: The Eighty-third Ohio volunteer infantry association, 1912).

    Partial Subject Index
    Andrews, Christopher, 1829-1922.
    • 1865 February 17
    Arkansas Post, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 January 14
    Armistices.
    • 1863 May 30
    Barres Landing (La.), Skirmish at, 1863.
    • 1863 October 20
    Baton Rouge (La.)--Description and travel.
    • 1864 April 29
    • 1864 July 6
    • 1864 July 20
    Big Black River, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 May 30
    Brashear City (La.)--Description and travel.
    • 1863 October 6
    Burbridge, Stephen Gano, 1831-1894.
    • 1863 November 3
    Camp Denison (Ohio)
    • 1862 August 22
    • 1862 August 25
    Camps (Military)--Mississippi.
    • 1863 February 27
    Camps (Military)--Ohio.
    • 1862 August 22
    Caves--Mississippi--Vicksburg.
    • 1863 July 13
    Champion's Hill, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 May 27
    Chickasaw Bluffs, Battle of, 1862.
    • 1863 January 30
    • 1863 March 23
    Christmas.
    • 1863 January 30
    City of Madison (Vessel)
    • 1863 August 21
    Civilians--Kentucky--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • 1862 October 12
    Civilians--Mississippi--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • 1863 May 27
    • 1863 July 13
    Coffee.
    • 1862 October 21
    Copperhead (Nickname)
    • 1863 March 19
    • 1863 March 23
    • 1863 June 11
    • 1863 August 2
    • 1863 August 21
    • 1863 October 6
    • 1864 September 9
    • 1864 October 2
    • 1864 November 16
    Cynthiana (Ky.)
    • 1862 October 21
    Deserters, Military.
    • 1863 March 23
    Draft.
    • 1863 August 2
    • 1864 August 16
    Elections--Louisiana--1864.
    • 1864 February 12
    Elections--Ohio--1863.
    • 1863 October 6
    Enemy--Relations.
    • 1863 January 30
    • 1863 May 30
    Explosions--Alabama--Mobile.
    • 1865 May 28
    Florida--Description and travel.
    • 1865 February 2
    • 1865 February 17
    Food.
    • 1862 November 21
    • 1863 January 30
    • 1863 June 15
    • 1863 June 28
    • 1863 August 21
    • 1864 September 29
    Foraging--Louisiana.
    • 1863 October 6
    • 1864 October 10
    Fort Blakeley (Ala.), Capture, 1865.
    • 1865 April 13
    Fourth of July celebrations.
    • 1863 July 13
    • 1864 July 20
    Gars.
    • 1864 August 16
    Grand Coteau (La.), Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 November 6
    Greenville (Miss.), Skirmish at, 1863.
    • 1863 February 27
    Guerrillas--Louisiana.
    • 1863 October 6
    Guerrillas--Mississippi.
    • 1863 February 27
    Jackson (Miss.), Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 July 26
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    • 1864 August 16
    Louisiana--Description and travel.
    • 1863 January 30
    • 1863 August 27
    • 1863 September 11
    • 1863 October 6
    • 1863 October 20
    Louisiana--Politics and government--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • 1864 February 12
    Maps--Alabama--Mobile.
    • 1865 April 13
    Maps--Ohio--Camp Denison.
    • 1862 August 22
    Marches--Kentucky.
    • 1862 September 10
    • 1862 October 12
    • 1862 October 21
    Marches--Louisiana.
    • 1863 February 27
    Military discipline.
    • 1862 November 2
    Mississippi River--Description and travel.
    • 1862 December 15
    Mobile (Ala.)--Description and travel.
    • 1865 May 28
    Mobile Campaign, 1865.
    • 1865 February 2
    • 1865 February 17
    • 1865 February 28
    • 1865 April 13
    Morale.
    • 1863 March 19
    • 1863 March 23
    • 1864 August 16
    Mortars (Ordnance)
    • 1862 November 2
    New Orleans (La.)--Description and travel.
    • 1863 September 2
    • 1863 November 6
    • 1864 February 12
    Plantations--Louisiana.
    • 1863 February 27
    • 1863 April 19
    Port Gibson, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 May 8
    Presidents--United States--Election--1864.
    • 1864 July 6
    • 1864 August 16
    • 1864 September 29
    • 1864 October 2
    • 1864 October 10
    • 1864 November 16
    Punishment.
    • 1862 September 13
    Rocky Springs (Miss.)--Description and travel.
    • 1863 May 8
    Scurvy.
    • 1864 September 9
    Selma (Ala.)--Description and travel.
    • 1865 April-May
    Sharpshooters.
    • 1864 October 30
    Ship Island (La.)
    • 1865 February 2
    Soldiers--Recreation.
    • 1863 June 28
    Soldiers--Religious life.
    • 1863 March 15
    • 1863 May 2
    • 1864 August 22
    Steamboat travel.
    • 1862 December 15
    Steamboats--Accidents.
    • 1863 August 21
    Teche Country (La.), Expedition, 1863.
    • 1863 October 6
    • 1863 October 20
    • 1863 November 6
    Union sympathizers--Louisiana.
    • 1864 February 12
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.
    • 1862 October 12
    • 1863 April 19
    • 1865 April-May
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Artillery operations.
    • 1863 June 4
    • 1863 June 11
    • 1863 June 28
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Blockades.
    • 1864 November 16
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • 1862 October 27
    • 1862 November 21
    • 1862 November 27
    • 1862 December 15
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.
    • 1862 October 27
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Naval operations.
    • 1863 May 8
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Scouts and scouting.
    • 1864 October 10
    • 1864 October 30
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.
    • 1863 May 27
    • 1864 May 11
    • 1864 July 20
    • 1864 September 9
    United States. Army--Barracks and quarters.
    • 1864 November 16
    • 1864 November 28
    • 1864 December 25
    Vallandingham, Clement Laird, 1820-1871.
    • 1863 June 11
    • 1863 August 21
    • 1863 October 6
    • 1864 June 26
    • 1864 July 6
    Vicksburg (Miss.)--Description and travel.
    • 1863 July 13
    Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Siege, 1863.
    • 1863 May 27
    • 1863 May 30
    • 1863 June 4
    • 1863 June 11
    • 1863 June 15
    • 1863 June 28
    • 1863 July 13
    Vicksburg Campaign, 1863.
    • 1863 January 30
    • 1863 February 8
    • 1863 February 27
    • 1863 March 19
    • 1863 March 23
    • 1863 May 8
    • 1863 May 27
    • 1863 May 30
    Yazoo Expedition, 1862.
    • 1863 January 30
    • 1863 April 23