Isaac Newton Webster’s Civil War

Isaac Newton (I.N.) Webster was an Ohio farm boy who served as a private in the Union Army during the Civil War. His diaries for 1864 and 1865, covering the decisive final year of the war, were passed down to his descendents and are preserved as digital images on this site.From April to November of 1864, I.N.’s 116th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment campaigned in and around the Shenandoah Valley of Western Virginia. In a number of major engagements, including Opequon (September 19), Fishers Hill (September 21-22) and Cedar Creek (October 19), the Union Army of the Shenandoah under General Sheridan gradually gained the upper hand over the increasingly hard-pressed Confederates, eventually sacking and burning much of the Valley.

I.N.’s 1864 diary is an ordinary notebook which includes financial records and other notes in addition to journal entries. The entries themselves are irregular, sometimes skipping days or weeks, of inconsistent length and not always in order, and describe frequent marches and hard action. All entries are in pencil.

With the Shenandoah Valley subdued, the 116th Ohio was transferred to the Army of the James on the siege lines outside Peterburg, Virginia, where they spent the winter of 1864-1865 in camp. Ironically, and perhaps fortunately for I.N. (and his descendents), he was at home on furlough when the fighting on the Peterburg front flared up briefly but conclusively during the first week of April, 1865. In his absence, the 116th Ohio played a leading role in the breakthrough at Petersburg, the pursuit of the retreating Confederate army, and their final surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9.

The 1865 diary is an actual 1865 diary, with the dates preprinted two-to-a-page. Each date from January 1 to April 20 is filled (in ink) with observations for the day. The entries describe camp life during the siege, his travels to and from home on furlough, and his return to the regiment in the field near Appomattox in the first weeks of peace.

Note: In the following pages, transcriptions of I.N.’s diary entries are displayed in the Mariah font, a cursive script which resembles handwriting. If this did not display as cursive script then your computer doesn’t have the Mariah font. You may add it by
downloading from here and saving it to your fonts folder (usually Windowsfonts on PCs).

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