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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 54 - May, 1863
Published in Holmes County Republican
The common soldier seldom gets much information of the important doings of army headquarters. This condition of things, peculiar to the military departments of civilized countries, often results in sudden and surprising effects. So it was with the men of the 13th corps, when they were officially informed that their popular commander, Gen. John A. McClernand, had, by order of Gen. Grant, been superceded [sic] by Gen. E.O.C. Ord. Not that we disliked our new commander, but that we had confidence in and were devoted to McClernand, who often gave testimony of his love for his soldiers and admiration of their achievements. A week after the assault of the 22nd of May, he issued an address to his troops that was inspiring, but to which it was said Gen. U.S. Grant took decided exceptions, as a part of it was construed as a criticism of the commanding general's plan of a general assault. The following is a copy of the order referred to:
HEADQUARTERS 13th ARMY CORPS
May 30th, 1863
General Orders, No. 12.
COMRADES! As your Commander, I am proud to congratulate you on your constancy, valor and success. History affords no more brilliant example of soldiery qualities. Your victories have followed in such rapid succession that their echoes have not yet reached the country. They will challenge its grateful and enthusiastic applause. Yourselves striking out a new path, your comrades of the army of Tennessee followed, and a way was thus opened for them to redeem previous disappointment. Your march through Louisiana, from Milliken's Bend to New Carthage and Perkin's Plantation on the Mississippi River, is one of the most remarkable on record. Bayous and miry roads threatened with momentary inundation obstructed your progress. All those were overcome by unceasing labor and unflagging energy. The two thousand feet of bridging which was hastily improvised out of material created on the spot, and over which you crossed, must long be remembered as a marvel. Descending the Mississippi still lower, you were the first to cross the river at Bruin's Landing and to plant our colors in the State of Mississippi. Resuming the advance the same day you pushed on until you came up with the enemy at Port Gibson. Only restrained by the darkness of night you hastened to attack him on the morning of the 1st of May, and by vigorously pressing him at all points, drove him from his position, taking a large number of prisoners and small arms and five pieces of cannon. Gen. Logan's Division came up in time to gallantly share in consummating the most valuable victory since the capture of Fort Donelson.
Taking the lead on the morning of the 2nd, you were the first to enter Port Gibson and to hasten the retreat of the enemy from that place and vicinity. During the ensuing evening, as a consequence of the victory at Port Gibson, the enemy spiked his guns at Grand Gulf and evacuated that place, retreating upon Vicksburg and Edward's Station. The fall of Grand Gulf was solely the result of the victory achieved at Port Gibson. The armament and public stores captured there are but the just trophies of that victory.
Hastening to bridge the south branch of Bayou Pierre at Port Gibson, you crossed on the morning of the 3rd, and pushed on to Willow Springs, Big Sandy and the main crossing of Fourteen Mile Creek. Four miles from Edward's Station a detachment of the enemy was immediately driven away from the crossing and you advanced, passed over and rested during the night of the 12th within three miles of the enemy in large force at that Station.
On the morning of the 13th the objective point of the army movements having been changed from Edward's Station to Jackson, in pursuance of an order from the Commander of the Department, you moved on the north side of Fourteen Mile Creek towards Raymond. This delicate and hazardous movement was executed by a portion of your number under cover of Gen. Hovey's Division, which made a feint of attack in line of battle upon Edward's Station. Too late to harm you, the enemy attacked the rear of that Division, but were promptly and decisively repulsed.
Resting near Raymond that night, on the morning of the 14th you entered that place, one Division moving on to Mississippi Springs, near Jackson, in support of Gen. Sherman, another to Clinton in support of Gen. McPherson, a third remaining at Raymond, a fourth at old Auburn to bring up the army trains.
On the 15th you again led the advance towards Edward's Station, which once more became the objective point. Expelling the enemy's pickets from Bolton, the same day you siezed [sic] and held important position.
On the 16th you led the advance in three columns upon three roads against Edward's Station. Meeting the enemy on the way in strong force you heavily engaged him, and after a sanguinary and obstinate battle, with the assistance of Gen. McPherson's Corps, beat and routed him, taking many prisoners and small arms, and several pieces of cannon.
Continuing to lead the advance you rapidly pursued the enemy to Edward's Station, capturing that place and a large quantity of public stores, and many prisoners; night only stopped you.
At day down on the 17th you resumed the advance, and early coming upon the enemy, strongly entrenched in elaborate works both before and behind Big Black River, immediately opened with artillery upon him, followed by a daring and heroic charge at the point of the bayonet, which put him to rout, leaving eighteen pieces of cannon and more than a thousand prisoners in your hands.
By an early hour on the 18th you had constructed a bridge across the Big Black and had commenced the advance upon Vicksburg.
On the 19th and 20th and 21st you continued to reconnoiter and skirmish until you had gained a near approach to the enemy's works.
On the 22nd, in pursuance of the order of the Commander of the Department, you assaulted the enemy's defences in front at 10 o'clock a.m., and within thirty minutes had made a lodgment and planted your colors upon two of his Bastions. This partial success called into exercise the highest heroism, and was only gained by a bloody and protracted struggle, yet it was gained and was the first and largest success achieved anywhere along the whole line of our army.
For nearly eight hours, under a scorching sun and a destructive fire, you firmly held your footing, and only withdrew when the enemy had largely massed their forces and concentrated their attack upon you.
How and why the general assault failed, it would be useless now to explain. The 13th Army Corps, acknowledging the good intentions of all, would scorn indulgence in weak regrets and idle criminations. According justice to all it would only defend itself. If while the enemy was massing to crush it assistance was asked for by a division at other points or by re-enforcements, it only asked what in one case Major General Grant had especially and peremptorily ordered, namely, simultaneous and persistent attack upon the lines until the enemy's outer works should be carried, and what in the other by massing a strong force in time upon a weakened point would have probably insured success.
Comrades! You have done much, yet something now remains to be done. The enemy's odious defences still block your access to Vicksburg. Treason still rules that rebellious city and closes the Mississippi River against rightful use by the millions who inhabit its resources and the great North West. Shall not the great
I join with you, comrades, in your sympathy for the wounded, and sorrow for the dead. May we not trust, nay, is it not so, that history will associate the martyrs of this struggle for law and liberty and justice with the honored martyrs of Monmouth and Bunker Hill?
By order of
McClernand had led his corps through a tedious and difficult work with splendid results, but there was one thing against him, he was not a graduate of West Point. He was appointed to a military command from civil life and soon won fame and promotion as a good officer. In this campaign he had been entrusted with an important part and had acted with spirit and skill. To remove him at this particular time seemed unjust, but he lost no friends in the 13th army corps if U.S. Grant did see fit to shove him into the back ground immediately after some of the grandest victories of the war. McClernand's men, devoted to their leader, and to the cause, consecrated those fields with precious northern blood. Whenever they struck, they struck hard, and with telling and glorious effect. At this distant day, to take a retrospective view of their privations, achievements and victories, seems wonderful and enshrines those bronzed faces and faded uniforms in a halo of enduring fame.
When the army was selected and organized, that was to sweep like an avenging avalanche into the State of Mississippi and strike the rear defences of Vicksburg, McClernand's men were the vanguard. Through swamps and swollen streams, and across the mighty river, and on up into the highlands of the proud and rebellious State, they crept like the blighting simoon that appalls and destroys. Where their flags advanced the traitor wave gave back. When the resolute Confederate deployed for battle, he met with ruinous defeat. Thousands of prisoners and battery after battery of splendid artillery was captured from a valiant foe. Like the Macedonian phalanx they pierced and broke the organizations of a proud enemy, and drove them in dire confusion to take shelter behind the impregnable ramparts of a fortified city.
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