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The Camp & Field Articles
by Theodore Wolbach
Cpl. Theodore Wolbach

Cpl. Theodore D. Wolbach

Web Author's Notes:

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 57 - June, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
March 23, 1882


Early on the morning of the 23th we struck tents and moved camp about a fourth of a mile north, on a road that ran north and south, and crossed the Vicksburg road at right angles, near [a] little place called Bovina. We pitched tents in a wood tolerably free from underbrush. It was the nicest camp we had occupied since the previous summer, yet this one had a drawback, we had far to go for good water.

The quietness of camp was disturbed one day by a curious and unexplained freak of one of the 16th boys, who darted from his tent and ran frantically some distance, shouting that the devil was after him.

Directly across the road from us was the camp of the 22nd Ky. One beautiful day, a fatal case of accidental or rather unintentional shooting occurred among them. Two men were, in sport, chasing each other around a tree. One playfully picked up a rifle, which he thought was empty, but which proved to be loaded, and snapped it at the other, shooting him through the body, producing almost instant death. Near by a lot of men were seated or lying in the shade passing the time in card playing or conversation. The ball struck and wounded two of these men, one quite seriously. The perpetrator was deeply affected at the result of his carelessness. In the excitement that immediately followed he would have been torn to pieces had he not been placed under guard. The name of the dead man was George Wallis.

The negro contrabands through this region were the source of much fun and entertainment to the boys. One Sabbath, some of the fellows persuaded a black fellow to give a religious discourse. His theology was primitive and his readiness to quote scripture and expound, as he warmed up, was truly interesting and amusing. Near Bovina, and not far from our camp, lived a darkey that had reached the age of the sere and yellow leaf, who, by some means of his own, had persuaded the ignorant ones of his own race around him that he was a military man of some importance. One evening, one of the pickets from a post near at hand, called on the old fellow and a dialogue about as follows ensued:

Well, Julius, they say you belong to the Union army?

Yes, I's soldier.

What kind of a soldier, infantry, cavalry, artillery, or what?

Oh, I's officer.

What kind of an officer?

Why, I's jest officer. I's got a sor'd.

When asked to produce it, he brought forth an ancient blade that probably had graced the outfit of some invincible in ye olden time when militia musters were fashionable.

Blackberries grew in endless abundance handy to us, and those that were not to lazy could have plenty. Domestic fruit was also beginning to ripen. A large orchard, a short walk north of camp, was daily visited.

On the 26th the paymaster gave us a welcome call and left some money with us.

Rumors from Vicksburg increased our interest in matters there, as time progressed. The cannon firing could be distinctly heard in our camps. Reports were so varied from that direction that some days we were very undecided as to what the final result would be, but somehow the feeling would work to the surface that Vicksburg and Pemberton's army would be our game before long. Johnson might augment his forces still more, but before he could raise the siege he would have to do some pretty tall fighting. The Federal force observing Johnson was a clever little army of itself. Beginning at Haine's Bluff, on the Yazoo, was the 9th corps, under Gen. John G. Parke; on their right Tuttle's Division of Sherman's 15th corps; then McArthur's Division of McPherson's 17th corps; next Osterhaus' Division of Ord's 13th corps, which held the extreme right.

Perhaps twenty-five thousand would not be too large an estimate of the effective number of the combined forces enumerated. It was commanded by Gen. W.T. Sherman.

Up to the 1st of July, the rebels east of us had felt our lines repeatedly for vulnerable points, and found them too strong to invite attack in front. To the right of our division the ferries of Black River were unguarded and invited a flank movement, but Johnson was too good a general to undertake it while Grant's veteran army was so well in hand. Had Johnson crossed below us and been defeated the pursuing forces would have crowded him into the river and everyman of his west of the Big Black, would have been captured.

July 3rd we got vague rumors from Vicksburg. There was a cessation of hostilities, and Grant and Pemberton met and talked between the lines. Terms of capitulation were partly agreed on, and the next morning, July 4th, they were completed. History has told the rest a thousand times--how the city, surrounded by vast fortifications, and garrisoned by thirty thousand men, fell into our hands. O, how we did long to be at the other end of the ten miles that separated us from the scene of a glorious ending of a desperate campaign and siege. We felt that we had a good claim for a share of the honor. We did have a sort of a jubilee and yelled a little, but before we could get reconciled to the new state of things, we got orders to be ready to move across the Big Black and go for Johnson. The ranks were stripped of all but men in first-class condition. Our tents were left standing and enough were left back to care for them and the surplus baggage.

In good season on the morning of July 6th, Sherman had his troops in motion for the aggressive movement against Joe Johnson's army. Our division being the nearest to the river crossed first. The troops far up stream made such slow work getting over that we had to loitre [sic] along all day to give them time. When we bivouaced that night we had only marched eight miles, yet it was one of the hardest marches we ever had. A number of boys were overcome by the heat and were taken back. The sky was over-cast with clouds and it rained very hard during the night. The next morning we moved over the Champion Hill's battle ground. Everything looked clean and fresh after the rain. The many groves handy to the road suggested afresh to us the savage work of that memorable 16th of May. Now Federal and Confederate enemies no more, are peacefully sleeping side by side where they fell in the harass of battle.

One in the robing of glory,
The other in the gloom of defeat.

On in the open country toward Bolton, we passed a residence that was deserted except one black slave. He stood in the great lawn in front of the house and grinned pleasantly at the soldiers. Some of the boys persuaded him to accompany us. Physically he was the finest looking and most muscular specimen of contraband we had yet seen--a perfect black Hercules. That evening, in gathering fuel, he gave us an exhibition of his great strength by picking rails from the fence and carrying large bundles of them as an ordinary person would carry stove wood. The prevalent mode of fighting among the black men of the South, was by clenching arms and butting heads. We inquired of Hercules if he had any experience in that kind of business. He replied: Yes sah, I's done a heap of buttin'. De fact is I can't get de culled boys to but wid me any mo; deys all afraid of me. We gleaned from him a butting record that any black buttist might have envied. He was also a good forager, and on one of his little exhibitions he ran down a yearling calf, cut its throat and brought it to camp as easily as a boy would carry a kitten. Handling cards was a favorite amusement with him, and it was discovered that poker was one of his accomplishments. Cooking for soldiers wearied him by and by and he left us for other fields to apply his talents. Three months afterward some of the 16th boys saw him at Algiers, Louisiana, running a one horse gambling den patronized mainly by blacks.

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