Webster (Timothy O.) Papers, 1857-1871, 167 Items

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Copyright: The copyright of these letters is held by Navarro College Archives, Navarro College, 3200 W. 7th Ave., Corsicana, Texas. Internet: archives@navarrocollege.edu.

Cite As:Timothy O. Webster Papers, Pearce Civil War Collection, Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas

Forms Part of: Pearce Civil War Collection

Location: 1-E4-a, 1-E4-b

Transcription(s): Yes

Scanned Copies on File: No

Accession Number: 1999.160

Processed by: Emily Brickhouse, August 2003

Reproductions of original materials and transcriptions may be available. Please contact the archivist for further information.

Abstract: Timothy O. Webster was born 1833c. (New York). Webster mustered into the Twenty-fourth Infantry on August 15, 1862. One hundred-fifty-four letters (1857-1871), one Guardianship document (1869), eight payment receipts (1864-1869), 59 empty envelopes, one official county repentance document (1857), two newspaper clippings, 13 photocopies of military records and widow's pension, 4 government pension problem letters and his son's official good work conduct letter (1867). Two letters (1864) are from Lieutenant Geo. W. Ross explaining the circumstances of T. O. Webster's death. T.O. Webster wrote 64 letters (1861-1864) to his wife describing army life and expressing concern for his wife and two children. Two letters (1862) are from his brother, Joseph R. Webster, explaining army life and the Indian uprisings in Minnesota. Sixty-six letters (1858-1871) are written mostly offering support from relatives and friends.

The letters from T.O. Webster to his wife cover 1862 to 1864, the years Webster was in the army. However, there are significant time gaps between the letters starting in 1863. Up until 1863, Webster wrote to Harriet several times a month. In October of 1863 Webster only wrote once and not at all in February of 1864. It is possible that the collection is incomplete.

Biographical/Historical Sketch

Timothy O. Webster was born 1833c. (New York). Webster mustered into the Twenty-fourth Infantry on August 15, 1862. The Twenty-fourth recruited mostly in Wayne County Michigan with Colonel Henry A. Morrow, Detroit, in command. The ranks of the regiment were formed in two weeks. Webster mustered into company F under the command of Captain Albert M. Edwards, first Lieutenant Asa W. Sprague and second Lt. Jacob M. Howard. The Twenty-fourth left Detroit on August 29, 1862 and arrived in Washington, D.C on September 2, 1862, to join the Army of the Potomac. They formed part of the First Division, First Corps. The regiment changed camps and went on numerous marches until December. On November 22 the regiment was camped near the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Acquia Creek Railroad on guard duty and was relieved of that duty on December 6.

From December 9 through 11 the regiment, along with the Army of Potomac marched to Fredericksburg, VA. On the 12th they crossed the Rappahannock River on pontoon bridges. The 24th was part of Major General William B. Franklin’s Left Grand Division which was deployed on the left side of the Union line, just south of the actual city. The regiment was placed on the far left flank to protect the army from an attack by Confederate cavalry led by J.E.B. Stuart. The men were under heavy artillery fire on the 12 and 13. On the 13 the regiment supported battery B of the 4th U.S. Artillery.

After leaving Fredericksburg, the 24th went into winter camp until April 22. On that day the regiment moved from camp at Belle Plains and crossed the Rappahannock River at Port Royal. On the 23 the regiment forced Confederates troops from the town and captured a number of prisoners. The regiment received high praise from the commanding officers of the Army of Potomac. Major General Reynolds account in the Official Records reads: “The endurance shown by their march of nearly thirty-six miles in twenty-four hours, during the very inclement weather of yesterday proves their value as tried and experienced soldiers…”

On April 29, the regiment and the 6th Wisconsin Infantry again crossed the Rappahannock, this time at Fitzhugh (Pollock’s Mill Creek or White Oak Run) and forced Confederates from their defenses, capturing 103 prisoners. Both crossings were preliminary measures for the entire army crossing and advance on Chancellorsville.

At Chancellorsville the 24th was part of Major General John F. Reynolds first corps (First division: Brigadier General James S. Wadsworth; fourth brigade: Brigadier General Solomon Meredith) and was placed in the rear of the army as one of Reynolds’ three brigades held in reserve. The 24th was deployed along Hunting Run as part of a V shaped defensive line. The brigade's steadiness under fire, its prompt obedience or orders, its determination to hold its ground and readiness to assault the enemy earned it the name "Iron Brigade". On May 5 the division helped cover the retreat back across the Rappahannock.

In the last days of May the 24th was again called into action. The regiment, along with the 19th Indiana, 2nd Wisconsin and 6th Wisconsin under the command of Colonel Henry A. Morrow, participated in the Westmoreland Court House Expedition from May 21 through 26. The 1,200 men from the four regiments captured 50 prisoners, 500 horses and mules, and liberated over 1,000 slaves. According to Colonel Morrow, “The object of the expedition was to clear the Peninsula of any rebel troops which might have crossed the Rappahannock for the purpose of intercepting the Eighth Illinois Cavalry…”

After the affair at Westmoreland Court House the 24th joined the rest of the Army of Potomac in perusing Lee’s army into Pennsylvania. On June 28 the regiment left Middleton, Maryland and arrived in Emmitsburg, Pennsylvania on the 29. The 24th went into camp near Marsh Creek the next day. The regiment was one of the first to arrive at Gettysburg on July 1. The regiment, part of the first corps under Major General Reynolds came to the aid of Brigadier John Buford’s cavalry on McPherson Ridge and along Willoughby Run. The regiment charged over the ridge and force Heth’s division back. On that first day the regiment suffered the loss of 316 men either killed or wounded. July 2 and 3 the 24th occupied Culp’s Hill and fended off Johnson’s division on the night of the 2. The regiment left Gettysburg on July 6.

The 24th was put on guard duty from November 1 through 26 at the Orange and Alexandria Railroad between Morrisville and Beverly Ford, Virginia. On November 29, at Mine Run the regiment helped drive the Confederates back into their defenses and captured a number of prisoners. On Christmas Eve the 24th went into winter quarters at Culpepper, VA.

In February, as part of a plan to distract the Confederates while the Union started a raid on Richmond from the Peninsula, Federal regiments crossed the Rapidan River at several crossings. The first corps (including the 24th) crossed at Raccoon Ford and burned the town at midnight while sustaining direct artillery fire from the Confederates in the area.

On May 3 the regiment broke camp at Culpepper and the next day crossed the Rapidan at Germania Ford at the start of the Overland Campaign. At the Wilderness, now part of the fifth corps commanded by Major General Gouverneur K. Warren, the men attacked Ewell’s Corps on the Orange Turnpike. The corps forced Ewell’s men back two miles to where the Confederate reserves were placed and upon reaching that point were pushed back to the original line of battle. During the Wilderness Colonel Morrow was wounded again (first wounded at Gettysburg) and command passed to Lieutenant Colonel Edwards.

On May 7 the men under Warren’s command marched to Spotsylvania Court House and upon reaching the place found themselves under constant fire from Major General Richard H. Anderson’s division of the III corps until the 21.

Two days later on May 23 the regiment crossed the North Anna River to attack the Confederate’s left but the fighting resulted in a stalemate. On May 26 General Grant moved his army East and South and met General Lee’s men at Totopotomy Creek on May 30. At Totopotomy the 24th participated in a skirmish that had indecisive results. Grant then pushed his army to Cold Harbor (June 1-3). On the 3 the 24th engaged on a massive frontal assault of the Confederate defenses. The attack last eight minutes and 8,000 Union soldiers were killed.

On June 16 the regiment crossed the James River at Wilcox Landing and on the 18 the regiment participated in an assault on defensive works of General A.P. Hill’s men surrounding Petersburg, outside of Richmond, VA. The Federals gained two miles of ground and a position closer to the city. Of the 120 men from the regiment in the battle one-third was killed or wounded. Timothy Webster was killed in the battle at Petersburg on July 18, 1864.

After Petersburg, the 24th Michigan participated in battles at Weldon Railroad (August 18, 19, 21 1864); Hatcher’s Run (October 27, 1864); Hickford (December 9, 1864); Dabney’s Mills (February 6-7, 1865); and the Siege at Petersburg (June 17 1864- February 11, 1865). The regiment was send to Baltimore, Maryland after the siege for Petersburg for special duty and then Springfield, Illinois as garrison and was part of the escort for President Lincoln’s funeral. The 24th mustered out of the Union army on June 30, 1865.

Scope and Content Note

One hundred-fifty-four letters (1857-1871), one Guardianship document (1869), eight payment receipts (1864-1869), 59 empty envelopes, one official county repentance document (1857), two newspaper clippings, 13 photocopies of military records and widow's pension, 4 government pension problem letters and his son's official good work conduct letter (1867). Two letters (1864) are from Lieutenant Geo. W. Ross explaining the circumstances of T. O. Webster's death. T.O. Webster wrote 64 letters (1861-1864) to his wife describing army life and expressing concern for his wife and two children. Two letters (1862) are from his brother, Joseph R. Webster, explaining army life and the Indian uprisings in Minnesota. Sixty-six letters (1858-1871) are written mostly offering support from relatives and friends.

The letters from T.O. Webster to his wife cover 1862 to 1864, the years Webster was in the army. However, there are significant time gaps between the letters starting in 1863. Up until 1863, Webster wrote to Harriet several times a month. In October of 1863 Webster only wrote once and not at all in February of 1864. It is possible that the collection is incomplete.

Archivist Note

All quotes from T.O. Webster’s letters are copied from the original and are representative of all spelling, punctuation, and grammar as written by the creator.

The complete finding aid available from the archivist is arranged into 5 parts: Biographical/Historical Sketch, Company Roster, List of Correspondents, Scope and Content Note, and Bibliography.


The copyright of these materials is managed by the Navarro College Archives on behalf of the Navarro College Foundation, 3100 W. Collin St., Corsicana, Texas 75110. Phone: 903-875-7438. Internet: archives@navarrocollege.edu.