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This regiment was organized under Colonel John F. DeCourcey, at Camp Tiffen, near Wooster, Ohio, on the 2d day of October, 1861, and was mustered into the service on the same day by Captain Belknap, of the 18th United States Regulars. It reached Camp Dennison November 28 and remained there until the 19th of December, when, receiving its arms, it moved to Lexington, Kentucky. On January 12, 1862, orders were received to report to General S. P. Carter, at Somerset, Kentucky. At this point the regiment was engaged in repairing and building military roads to facilitate the transportation of supplies to General Thomas forces at Mill Springs.
The battle of Mill Springs was fought and won by General Thomas on the 19th of January. The regiment was ordered up during the fight, but being retarded by a flood in Fishing Creek, did not reach the ground until after the enemy had been routed.
On January 31, 1862, the regiment left Somerset, Ky., and marched across the country to London. After a short rest at this point it continued its march to Cumberland Ford, arriving there on the 12th of February. Nothing of interest transpired during its stay.
On March 12 a reconnaissance in force was made toward Cumberland Gap, but with the exception of a slight skirmish with the enemy nothing was accomplished. Another reconnaissance was made on the 22d of March. About this time the regiment was brigaded with the 42d Ohio and 22d Kentucky, forming the 26th Brigade, 7th Division, Army of the Ohio, under command of Brigadier-General George W. Morgan.
On April 28 another reconnaissance was made to the top of the Cumberland Mountains in the vicinity of Cumberland Gap. The mountain was climbed in the midst of a heavy fog. Arriving at the top at 8 a.m. they met the enemy and a brisk fight ensued, which lasted till the middle of the afternoon. The regiment lost 1 man killed and 2 wounded.
The month of May was occupied in preparing for the assault on Cumberland Gap. On June 10 the march was resumed toward the Gap. On the morning of the 17th of June, the regiment marched up Powells Valley to the rear of Cumberland Gap, where it was discovered that the enemy had abandoned that stronghold and retreated toward Knoxville, Tennessee. The 16th was the first regiment to enter the enemys abandoned entrenchments and raise the National colors. From this time until the 3d of August the troops were engaged in strengthening the position, drilling, and foraging, with frequent skirmishing.
On August 6 the 16th was ordered to relieve the 14th Kentucky at Tazewell. About 10 a.m. of that day two companies (B and E) of the regiment were sent forward as advance pickets. Companies F and D were ordered to the right of the Main Hill Road on the same duty. Companies C and G were held in reserve. At 11 a.m. heavy skirmishing commenced at the front and continued until the enemy appeared on the front and right in force. Companies D and F were compelled to fall back. Companies B and E were cut off from the main force by a Rebel brigade, and most of them captured. Companies C and G were ordered up as a support, but were also overwhelmed and compelled to fall back to a position on the left of the road. They were now reinforced by stragglers from other companies and held the enemy in check for two hours, when the ammunition was exhausted. They then fell back to the main line, where the National forces were massed. Toward night the National army retreated into the entrenchments, the enemy following to within three miles of the Gap.
On September 8 the 16th Ohio and its brigade were ordered to Manchester, Ky., for supplies. On the 19th this force was joined by the remainder of the National troops from the Gap. The supplies having been almost completely exhausted, General Morgan ordered a retreat toward the Ohio river. This retreat was opposed by the enemy, who harassed the National forces by frequent attacks, and by placing obstructions in the roads, up to Grayson, Ky., within 25 miles of the Ohio river. The sufferings of the men on this march were very severe, having nothing to eat for several days excepting ears of corn gathered from the fields as they passed. To quench their thirst the men were compelled to drink the water collected in stagnant pools. On the 3d of October the command arrived at Greenupsburg, Ky., on the Ohio river, utterly worn out, ragged, shoeless, and covered with the accumulated dust of sixteen days march. Their appearance was forlorn in the extreme.
Resting until the 21st of October at Portland, Ohio, the regiment then moved to Charleston, Va., on the Kanawha river. On November 10 it marched, under orders, to Point Pleasant, Va., and there embarked on steamers for Memphis, Tenn., arriving at that place on the 27th of the same month. On December 20 it moved with Shermans command on transports to the rear of Vicksburg, Miss., and participated on the 29th, in the disastrous assault on Chickasaw Bayou. In this affair the 16th suffered terribly, losing 311 officers and men killed, wounded and prisoners. After the assault the command of the regiment devolved on Captain E. W. Botsford.
The next service performed by the regiment was in the expedition against Arkansas Post. That post being captured, the 16th Ohio, with other troops composing the expedition, were taken back to Young's Point, La. The regiment remained here until the 8th of March, and then moved to Millikens Bend.
On April 6, 1863, the regiment joined General Grants expedition to the rear of Vicksburg. It was engaged at Thompsonss Hill on the 1st of May, and lost 9 men killed and wounded. It was also engaged at Champions Hill, or Bakers Creek, on the 16th of May, and on the 17th at Black river bridge. On May 19 it took a prominent part in the disastrous assault on the Rebel works, losing several men killed and wounded. It remained in the rear of Vicksburg until its fall, July 4, 1863. On the 6th of July it was ordered to Jackson, Mississippi, where it participated in the siege and capture of that place.
The regiment now marched back to Vicksburg, where it was placed on transports with orders to report to commanding officer at New Orleans, La. It arrived at Carrollton, six miles above the city, on the 15th of August.
General Banks expedition to the Teche country was then forming at New Orleans, and the 16th was made a part of it. About the 7th of September the expedition left New Orleans. Starting from Algiers, opposite the city, the regiment moved by railroad to Brashear City, and from thence marched across the country to Opelousas. Returning to New Orleans it joined the expedition under General Washburne to Texas, landing at DeCrows Point, on Matagorda Island. From this place it sailed to New Orleans, arriving at that city on the 21st of April, 1864.
The regiment remained in New Orleans only two days, and was then sent up the river to Alexandria to reinforce General Banks army, just returned from his disastrous expedition into the Red river country. It arrived at Alexandria April 26, and was immediately sent to the front, where the enemy was met and engaged in several skirmishes. In these the regiment lost some men. Returning to Alexandria five companies were detailed to assist in building a dam across Red river to enable the gunboats to reach the Mississippi river.
About the 15th of May the 16th Ohio, with the rest of the forces under General Banks, commenced to retreat to Morganza, La., on the Mississippi. Morganza was reached without loss and the regiment went into camp. In this camp it remained, performing garrison duty, until the 6th of October, when orders were received to proceed to Columbus, Ohio, for final discharge from the service.
This ended the service of the 16th Ohio as an organized regiment, it having failed to reenlist for the war from the fact that it was feared by the men that the regimental organization would not be preserved.
The regiment reached Columbus, Ohio, on the 14th of October, and was paid and discharged from the service on the 31st of October, 1864.
During its service the 16th traveled by railroad 1,285 miles; by steamboat 3,619 miles; by steamship 1,200 miles, and on foot 1,621 miles. No accident occurred to any on while traveling on the water or by cars. While on the Gulf of Mexico, in November, 1863, off the coast of Texas, in latitude 27 degrees, several of the men of the regiment had their feet frozen during the prevalence of a severe "Norther."
The total number of deaths, from all causes, in the regiment was 251. There were killed in battle and died of their wounds 2 officers and 60 men. There was one death from suicide, and one from accidental shooting. Two men were drowned, one while bathing in the Mississippi river, at Vicksburg; the other while returning from general hospital at New Orleans, to rejoin his regiment at Morganza.
There were 185 deaths from disease, of which 47 occurred with the regiment. The others were in general hospital, or in hospital or other transports, at home on furlough, or in Rebel prisons. The number of wounded who recovered was 188. The largest per cent sick at any one time occurred while the regiment was in barracks at Camp Dennison in 1861. The most fatal disease was typhomalarial, or camp fever. The most prevalent disease was diarrhea.
There were two cases of small-pox and 59 of varioloid, but no deaths. Of measles there were 52 cases and 2 deaths. There were three cases of typhoid pneumonia, all of which proved fatal. Two died from diphtheria. The greatest mortality in any one month was in April, 1862, at Cumberland Ford, Ky., where there were 8 deaths - 4 from typho-malarial fever, 2 from typhoid-pneumonia, one from congestive measles, and one from hospital gangrene.
On Surgeons certificate of disability 186 were discharged, and 38 were transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps, 15 of whom were directly from the regiment. Before leaving Morganza the recruits, 90 in number, were transferred to the 114th Ohio to serve out the unexpired term of their enlistment.
The number of officers and men mustered out at the expiration of its term of service was 477, all that was left of 1,191, the total of original organization and recruits.
During its term of service the regiment bore an honorable part in the following battles:
|Cumberland Gap, Tenn||April 28, 1862|
|Tazewell, Tenn||August 6, 1862||Chickasaw Bayou, Miss||December 28, 29, 1862||Ft. Hindman, Ark. (Arkansas Post)||January 11, 1863||Port Gibson, Miss||May 1, 1863||Champions Hill, Miss||May 16, 1863||Big Black river, Miss||May 17, 1863||Vicksburg, Miss (First assault)||May 19, 1863||Vicksburg, Miss||May 22, 1863||Siege of Vicksburg, Miss||May 19 to July 14, 1863||Jackson, Miss||July 9-16, 1863||Alexandria, La||April 26, 1864||Mansura, La. (Red river expedition)||May 14-16, 1864|
The following inscription appears on the Monument of the 16th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi (please note the inscription does not include the regiment's most deadly engagement at Chickasaw Bayou the previous December):
"In the battle of Port Gibson, May 1, 1863, killed 1, wounded 8, total 9. In the battle of Champions Hill, May 16, killed 1, wounded 4, total 5. In the engagement at Big Black river bridge, May 17, killed 3, wounded 6, total 9. In the assault, May 19, killed 1, wounded 9, total 10. In skirmishes about Vicksburg, May 20-21, killed 1, wounded 4, total 5. In the assault, May 22, killed 4, wounded 5, total 9. In skirmishes about Vicksburg, May 23, wounded 3, and during the siege not reported."
"Aggregate reported casualties in regiment during the campaign and siege, killed 11, wounded 39, total 50."
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