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Joseph D. Webster
Personal Information
Born: August 25, 1811(1811-08-25)
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Died: April 12, 1876 (aged 64)
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Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
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Branch: Union Army
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Rank: brevet Major General of Volunteers
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Battles: Mexican War
American Civil War
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Joseph Dana Webster was a United States civil engineer and soldier most noted for administrative services during the American Civil War where he served as chief of staff to both Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman.

Webster was born in New Hampshire in 1811. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1832 and worked as a civil engineer. He joined the U.S. army in 1838, serving as 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Topographical Engineers. He fought in the Mexican–American War and by 1853 was captain of the U.S. Engineers. Webster resigned from the army in 1854.[1]

A few years later the outbreak of the Civil War brought Webster back into the service of the army. On June 1, 1861 he was appointed major in the U.S. Army Paymasters. In September he became chief of staff to Ulysses S. Grant. On February 1, 1862 Webster was appointed colonel of the 1st Illinois Light Artillery Regiment, but remained as Grant's chief of staff through the battles of Belmont, Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, and Shiloh. On the eve of the first day's fighting at Shiloh, Webster was instrumental in massing the artillery in support of Grant's last line of defense near Pittsburg Landing. On November 29, 1862 he was promoted to brigadier general of U.S. volunteers.

In early November 1862, Webster was assigned as the superintendent of railroads in the Department of the Tennessee. He next served as the Chief of Transportation for the Army of the Tennessee, during the siege of Vicksburg, and later for the entire Military Division of Mississippi.[1]

When William T. Sherman became commander of the Military Division of Mississippi he selected General Webster as his chief of staff. Webster served Sherman in this capacity through the Atlanta Campaign, March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign. On March 13, 1865 Webster was brevetted to major general of U.S. volunteers and resigned on November 6, 1865.[1] After the war he worked as a collector for the Bureau of Internal Revenue.


  • Eicher, John H., & Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Eicher p558