Isaac Jackson papers  1862-1865
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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.