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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 77 - September-October, 1864
Published in Holmes County Republican
The promoting of officers and assigning them from one company to another wasn't always favorably regarded by the soldiers, who, though having no voice in the matter, generally had opinions which were sometimes unreservedly expressed. The regular soldier from the beginning has no choice in the selecting of officers, hence is passive to the changes going on about him. But the volunteer elects his officers in the start and is not easily reconciled to changes that are consummated before he has any knowledge of them.
The officers of the 16th were efficient and brave. With all these qualifications some of them were hated by somebody for reasons generally arising from personal difficulties. Captain W. B---n, though an excellent officer, was fearfully disliked by some of the men, and one night when the Captain was on duty, some fellows with mischievous intent, hurled a lump of lead at him, which had it struck where it was intended it would have killed him. The Captain instituted an energetic search for the offenders but failed. Two of these fellows might easily be found to-day (1882) one in Columbus, Ohio, the other in Ford county, Illinois.
John [Patrick] Berry, of Company A, was drowned in the river here. He had just come up on the boat from New Orleans where he had been in the hospital. It being night when the boat reached Morganzie he made a misstep and fell into the water. Berry's body was recovered the next day by some soldiers that were fishing along the shore some distance below.
The artillery done a little target shooting at a red blanket put up across the river. Their shells didn't all explode. Some children found one of them and carried it to their home back from the river. While tinkering with it the fuse got ignited and the shell exploded killing one of the little ones instantly.
The new guns we received at New Orleans were exchanged after we came from Alexandria for Springfield rifles, calibre 54, being much lighter and better weapons than the old ones.
On the evening of September 19th we got orders to draw rations and be ready to march in the morning. A little after sunrise we were on the road tramping toward the Atchafalaya. We didn't march so fast as to miss things of interest along the road. Far beyond our camp we passed within two hundred yards of the small-pox hospital. There were some negro soldiers there under treatment at the time. This institution needed no guarding. The notice in plain letters would keep off an army. Further along we came to a place where dead mules and horses were dragged. It was a veritable equine golgotha. Some big, black, sleek-looking turkey-buzzards that were gorging themselves with the disgusting rotten mess, showed no fright at the nearness of the passing troops.
Ten miles from the river we marched past the place where the 19th Iowa and the 22d Indiana infantry were ambushed by a large force of the enemy a year before. The split board fence on the left showed many bullet marks. On the right was a dense growth of heavy trees whose branches were laden with the long grey Spanish moss. Much of this material was pulled off and arranged for bedding on the ground.
Before reaching the Atchafalaya we turned to the right from the main road and marched through the primeval forest, reaching the bayou some time in the night. A few deserted buildings here at a ferry had been called Centerpoint in more prosperous days. Many voices could be heard on the opposite shore, but when day dawned we could not see anybody there. Two companies of the 16th had been deployed behind the low levee near the bayou, the balance of the regiment being in a thick wood about five hundred yards back. Knowing that plenty of rebs were concealed across from us, a detachment of our Texas cavalry were ordered to gallop up and down the road in the rear of our skirmishers to draw the fire and get the enemy to expose themselves so that our infantry could get a shot at them. It succeeded well but cost us one of our bold dusky riders, who was shot through the bowels, and a splendid horse. Many balls over shooting the skirmishers, struck among the regiment. Col. Kershner's horse was wounded in the shoulder and the hospital steward's killed. Fred F. Falk got a ball through the calf of his leg. We lay low and did lots of shooting through the day and after dark started for camp. At a place where the road ran close to the bayou we had
a little critical experience. The rebs had some artillery in position on the opposite bank, and as our ambulances came along they opened out on them, one shot killing a span of mules for us. The column halted in an instant and after things were quietly investigated we moved on.
In scouting around through this country we ran upon many venomous snakes, principally rattlesnakes. On this trip we met with a species that was not so common, the
Henry White, of Co. H, while resting on an old decayed log, was approached by some of his comrades who playfully rolled the log over, when, to their astonishment, they uncovered two of these venomous creatures directly under where White had been sitting.
A few days afterward we again marched for the Atchafalaya, crossed over and made the enemy skip. One of the richest plantations in this part of the State, owned by a Doctor, was
October 1st about 4,000 colored troops and 1,000 white ones went down to the village of Bayou Sara. The expedition was under the command of a Michigan colonel. Capt. Foster, of the fleet, landed some men before daylight. Shortly after the whole force was ashore ready to move. While landing a dead man was found on the beach. He was in a badly decomposed condition and appeared to have been dead for some time. The force struck out from the river toward St. Francisville, the 16th in advance deployed as skirmishers. They passed through the town on a run finding but one person on the street, an old man in the act of hitching up in a buggy. He was taken charge of by a guard. A little beyond town our advance ran into some cavalry pickets, three I believe. One was sound asleep and was captured; the other two got away just in time to escape a like fate. The captured man was very communicative. He said he had fought under Zollicoffer at Mill Springs. A little further beyond we passed the residence of ex-Governor Harris. The old gent was at home and was very friendly to us, bringing milk out to the boys. A squad of rebel cavalry, that was cut off on a by-road by our main advance, galloped out on the main road and escaped with bullets singing after them. Not finding anything more of the enemy after going fifteen miles we returned.
A small brigade of Confederates, whose object was, for several years, the harassing of the river boats, was in camp back in this section of the State. Their exact location was not made known to us in time to make a direct move on them. This body of rebel troops were among the very last that came in and surrendered at the close of the war.
This dash into Mississippi enable the boys to pick up plenty of forage, and much of it was brought to camp. The steamer Choteau had taken us down and brought us back. When disembarking at Morganzie, Bill Garing, of Co. H, discovered that the steward of the boat had possession of some of his poultry, and unwilling to give them up, Bill went for him, and before he was through got involved with the Captain of the Choteau. But he carried his point and got his chickens again. This expedition to bayou Sara was the last in which the 16th marched out to offer battle to the common enemy.
October 6th we, as a regiment, fell into ranks for the last time with arms. Marching to the camp of another regiment we stacked the new rifles that had barely been initiated to the noise of battle in the short time that we carried them. We then bade good-by to the recruits that must now end their service in other organizations. Going aboard of the steamboat Luminary we swung out into the broad and deep river and commenced our journey homeward. At 4 a.m. on the 8th we tied up at Vicksburg, spending about five hours looking around at the prominent features of this historic place where so many of the 16th died. Since the war the dead soldiers that were buried in the vicinity were taken up from the battlefields and hospital burying grounds and placed in a National Cemetery on a commanding elevation near the city. Here only twenty-three graves of the 16th men are marked with name and regiment, the balance among the long list of unknown. We arrived at Memphis at 4 p.m. on the 10th. On the 11th, between Memphis and Cairo, we held an election for Ohio State officers.
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