Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


Oscar Jackson[p. 9] Oscar Lawrence Jackson, of New Castle, a distinguished soldier, lawyer and Member of Congress, was born in Lawrence County, Pa. (at that time a part of Beaver County), Sept. 2, 1840. His ancestors were Scotch-Irish and early settlers in the State. His great-grandfather, Samuel Jackson, was born in the Highlands of Scotland, resided some years in the North of Ireland, emigrated to the United States, and after living a short time in some other places, settled in 1797 on a farm two miles south of the present city of New Castle. A large part of this farm has ever since remained in the possession of the family and is now (1897) owned by Colonel Jackson's father.

His great-grandmother Jackson's maiden name was Janet Stewart. She was a sister of John Carlyle Stewart, who laid out the town of New Castle in 1798, and built there a few years later the old forge on the Neshannock Creek, where the first bar iron was made in Western Pennsvlvania. His grandfather, James Jackson, was a soldier in the American Army during the War of 1812. His mother's maiden name was Nancy Mitchell, a native of Indiana County, Pa. She was a grandchild of a Scotch-Irish immigrant, who settled in the Susquehanna Valley, Pennsylvania, where her father, Matthew Mitchell, was born in 1785. Our subject's father, Samuel S. Jackson, born Aug. 15, 1815, is still living, a resident of this county. He has two brothers, Dr. David P. Jackson of this county, and Hon. Edwin W. Jackson, an attorney of Harrisburg, Pa.; also a sister, Mary, and two half-sisters, Anna and Jane.

Colonel Jackson was reared on a farm; was educated in the common schools, at Tansy Hill Select School, and at Darlington Academy; and when a boy clerked for a short time in a country store.

He was teaching school near Logan, Hocking County, Ohio, the winter before the outbreak of the Civil War. On the call for soldiers in 1861 to defend the government and suppress the rebellion, he volunteered and recruited a company in that vicinity for the three years' service. It became Company H, Sixty-third Ohio Vol. Inf., and with the regiment at the end of the three years re-enlisted as veterans and served to the close of the war. He entered the army as captain of the company he recruited, was afterwards promoted in the regiment, and served continuously during the war from August, 1861, to July, 1865, a term of four years. He was present with his regiment and on duty nearly all the time of its service, except some three months, when disabled by wounds received in battle. After some time spent in camp, perfecting the organization, equipping and drilling, his regiment took the field with the Army of the West. His first active service was in Missouri under General Pope, including the actions at New Madrid, taking of Fort Thompson, and the later operations that resulted in the capture of Island No. 10, with a large number of prisoners. His regiment was a part of the force afterward sent down the Mississippi River, which landed on the Arkansas shore, and began preparations for the investment of Fort Pillow. In the latter part of April, 1862, the regiment was ordered to join Gen. Halleck's army at Pittsburg Landing, and took part in all the operations that made up the siege of Corinth. It was engaged in the actions at Farmington, on both the 8th and 28th of May. The regiment was in General Grant's operations in September, 1862, which resulted in the battle of Iuka, being in Stanley's Division, which had the principal part of the fighting to do in that engagement.

In the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, Oct. 3 and 4, 1862, the Sixty-third Ohio, under Gen. Rosecrans' command, gained very distinguished credit for continued hard fighting in the open field long after it had sustained very great loss, and the regiment is prominently mentioned in Greeley's History of the Rebellion. In this battle on the 4th, Colonel Jackson, then a captain in command of his company, received a severe gunshot wound in the face, the bullet entering near the right eye, where it yet remains. He is mentioned in the official report of the battle, which is now published in volume 17 of Government Records of the Rebellion, as "A young officer of great promise, who is severely and it is feared mortally wounded, who held his company in perfect order until two-thirds of his men were killed and wounded." The regiment lost 42 per cent. in killed and wounded of the entire number taken into action, he being among the very last wounded. This severe fighting was mostly in support of Robinett's Regular Battery, which was repeatedly charged by the enemy's infantry, and the rebel general was killed within a few yards of the guns.

As soon as be was sufficiently recovered from his wounds, Colonel Jackson rejoined his regiment, and in 1863 was with the division of infantry which escorted Straight's Cavalry through the enemy's lines as far as Tuscumbia, Alabama, when they started on their famous raid. The infantry afterwards engaged the enemy sufficiently to divert attention from the movement. Our subject subsequently took part in the summer of 1863 in the various operations of Gen. Dodge's command in northern Alabama and Mississippi, and along the Mississippi River from Memphis to Vicksburg, during the siege of the latter city. His regiment at this time belonged to the Sixteenth Army Corps, and had a full share in all the movements of that organization. After the fall of Vicksburg, he was with that part of the army which marched overland with Gen. Sherman from the Mississippi River to the relief of Chattanooga and Knoxville. His division was detached from the main column and sent to the right to secure the line of railroad at Elk River, then much needed to supply the army at Chattanooga. In this movement they made, by crossing the Tennessee River in the face of the enemy and the capturing of Decatur, one of the few successful night attacks attempted during the war.

In Sherman's great Atlanta Campaign of 1864, the division in which Colonel Jackson served was at first in the Sixteenth Corps, and afterwards in the Seventeenth Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Gen. McPherson, who was killed before Atlanta. After this it was commanded by Generals Logan and Howard. Coldnel Jackson was constantly with his regiment during the campaign and engaged in the battles of Snake Creek Gap, Resaca, Dallas, Kenesaw Mountain, and the Siege of Atlanta. He was with that part of the army which made the movement south of Atlanta, fought the battle of Jonesboro, drove the enemy off the Macon Railroad, and thus secured the fall of Atlanta. When the enemy under Gen. Hood afterward moved in the rear of the Union Army, Colonel Jackson took part in the operations to develop the extent of the movement, and also to drive the enemy out of Snake Creek Gap and off the railroad, following him to Galesburg, Ala. In this part of the campaign, he was in command of his regiment, as he had been on different occasions before that. Colonel Jackson was with Sherman on the "March to the Sea," was engaged in the capture of Savannah, and took part in the campaign through the Carolinas. He commanded his regiment when it moved from Savannah by way of Hilton Head to Beaufort, and also in all the operations from Goldsborough to Raleigh, including those immediately preceding the surrender of Johnston's Army. During the operations near Raleigh, Colonel Jackson was sent with a large army train back to Goldsborough for supplies. He had command of his own regiment, and other details reporting to him as guard and escort, and had entire charge of the train. He marched, going and coming, about 100 miles through the enemy's country, had a bridge burned ahead of him and with difficulty found passable roads and streams that could be safely forded. But the war was now nearing to a close, and the most remarkable feature of the expedition was the large number of rebel soldiers that came in and surrendered. At night he had quite a camp of these prisoners, who required, however, very little guarding, and who got plenty to eat from the Union soldiers, who cheerfully divided rations with them.

After the surrender of Johnston's Army, he marched to Washington, commanded his regiment at the Grand Review, and then conducted it to Louisville, Ky., where it remained until ordered mustered out in July, 1865. He then moved the regiment to Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, where, under his directions, the survivors of four years' service in the field were discharged, paid off, and sent to their homes.

Colonel Jackson was successively promoted and commissioned major and lieutenant-colonel, and was on recommendation of his brigade, division and corps commanders commissioned by the President, Colonel of U. S. Volunteers by brevet, for gallant and meritorious services in the field during the war. The former commander of the regiment lost a leg in the Atlanta Campaign, and was never able to rejoin his command, leaving Colonel Jackson for a long time its permanent commander in the latter part of its service. It is worthy of notice that there were but a few officers of volunteers in the army who served as long a term as a commissioned officer as he did.

After the war, Colonel Jackson studied law, was admitted to the bar, opened an office in New Castle in April, 1868, and has since been in active practice. He was elected and served a full term as district attorney from 1868 to 1871, and was county solicitor from 1874 to 1880. He was appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania, in pursuance of an act of the Legislature, a member of a commission to codify laws, and served on it in 1877 and 1878.

He was elected in 1884 as a Republican Member of Congress of the United States to represent the Twenty-fourth Pennsylvania Congressional District. His district was composed of the counties of Beaver, Lawrence and Washington, and he received at the election the largest majority ever given a candidate in it. He was re-elected and served in Congress until March 4, 1889, when by a re-apportionment of the State, his county was attached to another district, and he retired. In Congress he was a member of the Committee on Public Lands, and favored a policy of disposing of Government lands principally to actual settlers, and a strict construction of grants previously made for other purposes. He was especially interested in the subject of tariff legislation, taking an active part in the hearings before the Ways and Means Committee, and in the House proceedings, in favor of a protective tariff, and against the proposed Morrison and Mills bills. He was one of the members selected to deliver memorial addresses in Congress on the life and services of Gen. John A. Logan. His speeches in favor of a liberal appropriation for a building for a National Library at Washington, also for a better government for Alaska, and against President Cleveland's vetoes of pension bills, commanded attention, and were largely circulated, being republished in newspapers in different parts of the country. His address in the Fiftieth Congress in favor of restoring Gen. Rosecrans to a commission in the army, in order that he might be retired on it as a means of support in his old age, was considered worthy of being quoted at some length in the American Encyclopedia.

After leaving Congress, he resumed the practice of law, in which he is now engaged and as a lawyer is widely and favorably known. In church matters he is a United Presbyterian. The portrait of no citizen of Lawrence County will be received with greater favor than that of Colonel Jackson, which we present on a preceding page.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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