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Camp & FieldArticles
by Theodore Wolbach
The following image represents one of a series of articles written by Cpl. Theodore D. Wolbach, Company E, titled "Camp and Field" and published, by chapter, in the Holmes County Republican newspaper from February 24, 1881 to August 17, 1882. The articles tell the story, in great detail and color, of the 16th OVI, from the inception of the 3-year regiment in October, 1861, through all its camps, battles and marches until it was disbanded on October 31, 1864. The first 35 chapters, also presented on these pages, were obtained from a book in which the articles, clipped from the newspaper, had been pasted over the pages, believed to have been done by a descendant of Capt. Rezin Vorhes, Company H. All the remaining chapters (36 through 78), except chapter 60, were recently found in a Holmes County library by researcher Rob Garber who obtained copies, performed the transcriptions and provided to this website and which are also presented here, thus providing the complete work by Theodore Wolbach.
Throughout these articles click on the underlined white text for additional details.
The webauthor thanks 16th Ohio descendant Rob Garber for his excellent research on the Camp And Field articles and for performing the tedious digital transcription of those articles found on each page. The transcriptions were made to reflect the original articles verbatim, misspellings and all. Rob is the 3rd great nephew of Capt. William Buchanan, Company F, 16th Ohio, who served in the 90-day regiment as a private, re-enlisting in the three year regiment, and eventually making the rank of Captain of Company F. Thanks Rob!
Chapter 39 - January, 1863
Published in Holmes County Republican
One extremely cold night, when many of the unfortunate fellows were puzzled to keep the temperature of their chilled bodies beyond the point of serious suffering, some tent poles that lay at the prison building were burned. The next morning the sheriff was very mad about it and refused to issue rations until a large amount in greenbacks was paid by the prisoners; but the tables were turned and the day of reckoning came. The Yankees got the city and the Sheriff the next summer, and when the boys were returning to their commands the next fall, a lot of them stopped at Vicksburg and hunted up Mr. Sheriff,
Out beyond the city, on the Jackson road, the slaughter-pens of the C.S. army were located. It is a curious fact that these places were daily visited by white people, who carried away the entrails and used them for food. Pot-pies and stews were prepared from this disgusting offal and eagerly devoured by citizen and soldier.
On the way to Jackson the cars stopped near a fine, large plantation mansion. Two ladies, on the porch in front of the house, waved their handkerchiefs, and when they saw that the train would be likely to stand there awhile, they came down toward the road, waving their handkerchiefs as they approached; but Oh, didn't they look beat and start back for the house when they got near enough to see that the soldiers were Yankees?
On arriving at the bridge at Jackson, they found that they were going to be badly crowded. Col. Fletcher, of Missouri, made a very affecting speech on the situation, in which he exhorted the strong to give preference to the weak; and all to bear patiently and manfully the suffering which must naturally ensue in such close quarters.
Four men managed patiently, by trading and other means, to procure for each a suit of Confederate grey. Late one evening they crawled out past the guards and started overland for the Mississippi River. Evading all human habitations, sleeping in the dense woods, they wandered about four days, then becoming famished, they approached some negroes who procured them food. Unfortunately, when they left their place of concealment, a white man saw them, and in less than an hour they were pursued by a dozen men and a pack of blood-hounds, who soon brought them to bay and captured them. Ascertaining where they belonged, they promptly returned them to the dreaded bridge. The captors, in this case, belonged to what was called the Minute Men. In running down defenceless prisoners, they were zealous and heroic, but when our army overrun that country, the majority of them were cowering babies. No doubt the torch was applied too freely by some of the recaptured men after they again found themselves in the ranks of their regiments.
The Sixth Missouri Confederate Infantry were the first guards our boys had at Jackson bridge. They were good to the prisoners. Several times took some of them up town and allowed them as much privilege as they dared under the commandant's strict orders. The men of the Sixth Missouri complained that they had not been dealt with by the C.S. authorities according to the stipulations of their enlistment, which was to serve in their State only. They had fought at Corinth and other places.
Two prisoners of a loyal Louisiana regiment were brought here and put with the others. They were very filthy, and at no time seemed inclined to wash their persons or cleanse their clothing of gray-backs. The other prisoners doused them in the river one day, and compelled them to wash off some of their filth.
Before leaving the bridge for our lines, the rebel commissary sergeant was very active in hunting up some wheat flour for the boys. His efforts were rewarded with partial success. A little flour was found and divided among the prisoners, but there was nothing to cook it in or mix with it. A day or two afterward, in the south part of the State of Mississippi, while awaiting for transportation, they astonished the guards by some Yankee ingenuity in baking without utensils. They smoothed off a stick, and heating it, wrapped their dough around it, and by holding it over a bed of coals baked it nicely.
Some little cakes of rice flour that had been baked before they started, became very hard. A few days afterwards, Bank's soldiers in New Orleans eagerly bought them for curiosities.
The trip from New Orleans to New York took twenty-seven days. During that time, off Cape Hatteras, they passed through forty-eight hours of the worst storm the good ship had ever encountered. All were forced to stay below decks except the men on duty, who were lashed to their posts. The hatches were battened down and every sail closely reefed. The wheelsman had four ribs broken by being thrown violently against the wheel by the force of a big wave.
At New York they were kept three days in quarantine. Then they landed at the Battery, boarded river steamer, run to South Amboy, thence by rail to Camden, Philadelphia, and on to Annapolis, where they were put in camp about a mile out of the city. Before they left here they saw many of the wounded from Burnside's army at Fredericksburg, Va. The officer that had charge of the paroled prisoners when they left Annapolis for Camp Chase, reached the latter place with one man, the rest had escaped to their homes along the
road, but they all reported at Columbus in good season.
While at Camp Chase they were the neighbors of the paroled men of the 3d Ohio infantry, who had been captured on the third of the previous May near Rome, Georgia, on Col. Streight's raid. These fellows were sent to Holmes county to quell a little rebellion there. Our boys begged for permission to go, but it was not granted.
Some soldiers had recently occupied the barracks where our boys were quartered. In one of the bunks Arch. Buckmaster found about one hundred and forty dollars in gold. To a companion, (Frank I. McKee,) who happened to be present just then, he gave five dollars, the balance he took to a bank in the city and exchanged for its value in greenbacks, which he sent home to a sister.
January 2d we left the Yazoo and steamed up the Mississippi and moored our boats to the western shore, near Milikin's Bend, about five miles from the mouth of the Yazoo.
Gen. John A. McClernand had just arrived from the north to relieve Gen. W.T. Sherman. These two men planned an expedition against Fort Hindman, or as it is commonly called Arkansas Post, and the whole fleet moved for White River immediately. Entering that river, they passed up into the
Landing about four miles below the rebel fort, troops under Sherman and Morgan were sent forward on the north side of the stream, and a brigade under Col. Lindsay, on the opposite bank. It had become necessary to reduce the 16th from ten to six companies. Four being broken up and distributed among the rest of the companies. It was distasteful to some of the members of the broken companies to see their organizations divided. A few of these fellows gave us an illusion of hesitancy that fired the wrath of DeCourcey, who mounted a log in front of the mutinous boys and gave them a short, sharp lecture. Told them he had been a father to them--had tried to bring them up to the highest standard of discipline--and if they ever again exhibited such disobedience he would break his sword and leave them, but immediately followed up with a savage flourish of his glittering sword, and fuming in his British wrath, said,
Sherman and Morgan soon run against the enemy and done some skirmishing, which resulted in the latter abandoning a line of rifle-pits below the fort that night, and throwing up a new entrenchment extending from the fort across a neck of land back to a swamp.
On the morning of the 11th, the land forces commenced firing very early. The work of infantry and artillery waxing warm sometimes. A little after 10 o'clock the gunboats moved up promptly, and went to work, and before noon the three casemated guns in the river front of the fort and a large barbette gun were silenced. The land forces were raining destruction against the occupants of the rifle-pits. Col. Lindsay had two of Foster's twenty pounders posted on the opposite side of the river, where they raked the rebel line, doing execution at every shot. The climax of battle was soon reached and the enemy surrendered, although the Confederate commanding officer, Gen. Churchill, denied giving such orders. The majority of the captured garrison were Texans and were inclined to be a little saucy. Many that had revolvers and other side arms hid them in the dirt of the breastworks, or threw them into the bayou back of their lines. About every thing was recovered by our fellows, who individually instituted a patient and thorough search.
A four gun battery of brass pieces that had been run up behind their shallow works, were silenced almost immediately by our sharp shooters and every horse killed, dropping right in their traces where they stood.
The usual bloody picture of men displayed itself in the trenches. Many that had been badly torn by our artillery were scattered along the line. One poor fellow that had got in the way of a heavy gunboat shell was torn almost to pieces and lifted over the parapet into the ditch, where he lay with his bowels protruding, a blackened, shapeless, horrible mass. Two shoes with feet and stubs of legs sticking in them were lying near the lifeless rebel they formerly belonged to. In the casemates the terrible work of the navy was visible. Shreds of flesh and hair stuck on the wooden walls, and human blood was smeared over every thing. It appeared to the observer, after the contest, that the men had stayed at their post until they were blown to atoms. The big gun on the parapet had a huge chip knocked from the muzzle. A broken stretcher and a dead man with his legs cut off a few inches below the knees, lay back toward their field hospital. One of Foster's shots had produced this wreck, as the fellow wounded was being carried from the field. The scene in the hospital was horrifying. About all of the victims here were wounded by the artillery. The writer was one of the guards placed here, and shall, while life lasts, retain the impressions these suffering Confederates left on his memory.
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