Isaac D. Reed was born in 1833 in Ohio, the son of Jonathan (b. 1797) and Ruthanna (b. 1800).
His parents were both born in Pennsylvania and presumably married there. In any case, they moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio where they lived for some years before moving to Michigan sometime after 1843. By 1860 Isaac was working as a carpenter and living with his family in Hastings, Barry County where his father operated a farm.
Isaac was a 28-year-old carpenter probably living in Hastings when he enlisted in the Hastings Rifle Company in April of 1861. The company was disbanded shortly after it arrived in Grand Rapids and its members distributed to other companies of the Third Michigan infantry then forming at Cantonment Anderson just south of the city. Isaac eventually enlisted as Wagoner in Company K on May 13, 1861, along with Cody Reed (to whom he may have been related) and Henry Kingsbury. By the summer of 1861 Isaac was on detached duty with the Fourth Brigade, serving as a wagoner.
During the action at Bull Run, in late July of 1861, Isaac had remained at Camp Blair, along the Potomac just north of Washington, when the Third Michigan departed for the field of battle. He eventually rejoined the regiment at its new campsite, Hunter Farm, near Arlington, Virginia. On August 20, he wrote the editor of the Hastings Banner,
I have the honor of addressing you from the camp of the Mich. 3d which is most delightfully situated upon the lands of Lieut. Hunter, late of the U.S.N., on the banks of the Potomac. I shall endeavor to give you a little insight as to a soldier’s life and fare in the Mich 3d.
Reveille and roll call at 6 o’clock a.m. Beat for breakfast at 7, sick call 7 1/2. -- Morning drill from eight till half past 9. Dinner at 12. Battalion drill from 3 1/2 to 5, and then comes Dress Parade. Supper call at 6. Retreat at 6 1/2. Roll call at 9, taps at 9 1/2 and then the day’s toil is over, and the weary soldier packs himself away, to forget for a few short hours the danger and toil of the day that has passed. At this moment the Regiment is passing a review and inspection of arms, by an officer of the U.S.A. They are being ordered to carry 40 rounds of cartridges -- keep their guns in good order -- and be in readiness to march at 15 minutes warning. They are also required to keep on hand five days’ rations, which consists of soft bread, 22 oz. to each man per day; 1 1/2 lbs. fresh beef or 3/4 lb. salt pork. One pint of coffee or tea as they choose for supper. Bean soup three times per week, rice three times, vegetables, such as potatoes, peas, etc., twice a week. This is, I believe, a correct statement of the bill of fare, which no one ought to complain of, though there are always some men among so many, that will find fault. It is quite healthy here at this date, have had considerable rain lately and quite cool nights. There are not over 20 men on the sick list, and none dangerous. There is a flying report in camp that the rebels are marching on Washington and Alexandria. But I think Jeff. knows better than to lock horns with Uncle Sam. There are too many “Armstrong” and other “pattern guns” down on Arlington Heights and vicinity for Beauregard and Jeff., and then there are 5 or 6 batteries of Artillery and hundreds of Cavalry, also Fort Runion [Runyan], Fort Corcoran and Fort Albany, within one mile of our camp. There is a continual line of camps from Fortress Monroe to Harper’s Ferry, on the Virginia side of the Potomac. I cannot give a correct account of the number of our troops in the first division of the United States Army, but there are in the neighborhood of 150,000 men and I think it would take three times that number to take Washington. Our men are all determined and will fight like tigers. The Hastings Boys are enjoying good health and are ready to wipe out the disgrace of our arms; a thing the soldiers have a full determination to do at the first opportunity. With the restoration of order the public confidence has also been restored, and there is a general feeling of sure and abiding confidence in the ability of the army to protect and defend the Capital, and the Whole Glorious Union. The Hastings Boys fought as became brave men in the trying time at Bull Run. I was not there, having been detached to take care of camp and baggage. We were stationed at Camp Blair at the time. I have heard by letter from Hastings that W. K. Ferris threw the colors and ran from the field. But I have it from good authority that is false. He was sunstruck the first day and was carried from the field, but he was at his post and performed his duty during the whole of the last battle on the 21st.
We are going to remove to the Brigade Headquarters soon, which is composed of the N. Y. 12th, Mass. 14th, Mich 2d and 3d, Col. Richardson commanding.
Isaac was still on detached duty as a wagoner in the spring of 1862, serving under Captain Ben Tracy, formerly of Company F. Sometime in 1861 or early 1862 Benjamin “had been detached from the regiment to serve as asst. quartermaster 3rd brig 3rd div 3 army corps afterwards consolidated with 2nd corps. He thus became my immediate superior officer and our duties brought us together constantly. I well remember that about May 1862 Capt. Tracy became unable to mount his horse because of piles and at the same time he complained of diarrhea or dysentery. He was so bad that I had to run the wagon train alone for three or four days.”
Isaac was reported as a wagoner in July of 1862, a Brigade wagoner from August through September, and Brigade forage master in October and wagon-master from November of 1862 through January of 1863. In fact he served with the wagon trains through the war. He was serving with the Brigade wagon train from February through June, at Brigade headquarters in July, on detached service from September 19 and in October detached with the Third Brigade. In November he was at Brigade headquarters and he was wagon-master of the Third Brigade wagon train from December of 1863 through May of 1864. He was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.
Isaac eventually returned to Michigan.
He married Ohio native Frances (b. 1848) and they had at least two children: Nettie (b. 1866) and Ulysses (b. 1868).
By 1880 Isaac was working as a merchant and living with his wife and children in Hart, Oceana County. He was probably residing in Hart, Oceana County in 1883 and 1888, and he was living in Hart in September of 1891 when he gave a statement in the pension application of Ben Tracy, former Captain of Company K. That same year Isaac himself applied for and received a pension (no. 842382).
He may be buried in Riverside cemetery, Hastings, Barry County.