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Camp & FieldArticles
by Theodore Wolbach
The following image is taken from a book titled "Mortality and Statistics of the Census of 1850" in which it is believed retired Captain Rezin H. Vorhes, Company H, pasted over the pages a series of articles written by Cpl. Theodore D. Wolbach, Company E, titled "Camp and Field" and published, by chapter, in the Holmes County (Ohio) 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 articles pasted in the Vorhes book cover the first 35 chapters, published through October 20, 1881. All the remaining chapters 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 42 - February/March/April, 1863
Published in Holmes County Republican
Robert W. Liggett, Captain of Co. B, by some indiscretion incurred the displeasure of the war department, and was dismissed from the service. Being very much displeased with the action taken in his case, and eager to gain redress, he returned to Ohio, sought an interview with Governor Tod, and was promised a commission in one of the new organizations then forming. Going immediately to Washington he gained admittance to President Lincoln, stated his case, was kindly received, and left with the assurance that the favors he asked for would be granted. Liggett soon re-entered the military service as Captain, was promoted to Major, then to Colonel and placed in command of Ft. Barnard on Arlington Heights, on the Virginia side of the Potomac near Washington. This for was one of the largest and most important of any in the line of defences [sic] around the National Capital.
While we in our daily rounds of duty were kneading the mire of Young's Point, Grant, with his characteristic tireless energy, was attempting routes to the rear of Vicksburg by the way of Lake Providence, or the Sunflower and Yazoo Rivers. The efforts met with a signal failure in the end, but they gave the troops occupation and furnished reasonable hope for success. While the work lasted it also kept our powerful enemy across the river in a state of unrest.
In the early part of March the river became booming high, and every square foot of ground on both sides of the levee became saturated. Each day was a smeary, mud-wading experience that was fatiguing and monotonous. The hitherto patient soldier complained and many utterances that had better be consigned to oblivion found vent about this time. The soldier was affected by the circumstances and events of the time being, and knew not the end nor the changes for the better that were near at hand.
Every mail to the north from our soaked camp carried letters that were damaging to the Federal cause. A better day was coming that would change the tone of the homeward messages and buoy up the spirits of the men. Orders were given to break camp and move up the river about ten miles to Miliken's Bend, where there was dryer camping ground. The day that we struck tents and put our camp material aboard the transport was an enjoyable event for the glad 16th. A heavy detail from the regiment was sent at embarking some field artillery. Guns were dismounted, wheels taken off and everything carried aboard in pieces. It was hard work but the Quartermaster, who directed the work, promised the boys all the whiskey they wanted to drink if they worked diligently to the completion of the job. The Q.M. was true to his promise, and some of the party that accepted the proffered treat became woefully intoxicated.
This move up the river took place on the 11th of March. The air was mild and the men relished the change and worked cheerfully. Everything was speedily put aboard the boat except a little alderny cow that had been presented to Mrs. Brashear some time before. The Quartermaster had allowed forage for the animal and she furnished a generous supply of rich milk for the hospital department. When the soldiers attempted to drive the cow to the boat landing she broke away from them and run into a bayou beyond reach and was abandoned. As soon as the boat landed at Miliken's Bend and camp equipage unloaded, there was the usual rush for boards and dry wood which was found in sufficient quantity to supply all with a reasonable amount.
A large cotton gin, half a mile back of camp, was almost denuded of boards. At this building was found a paper that was inspected by us with curious interest. It was a list of the names of a lot of slaves with a daily record opposite each name of the number of pounds of cotton they had picked. The buildings on this plantation had all been spared thus far, but the slaves had scattered to the four winds and would respond no more to the overseer's call; perhaps here the traditional massa lived that
Be that as it may, Massa and Missus were also gone and but one human being was left on the premises and that was an elderly negress who yet seemed true to her absent master.
Chaplain Matlock's services with the regiment terminated at this camp. He resigned and went home. His connection with us had no doubt been a little discouraging. DeCourcey had been unfriendly to him and now our Division Commander General Osterhaus gave him no encouragement.
We were now so far away from the canal that our services were not expected there any more, but an increase of drill and picket duty amply made up the deficiency and the boys accepted the change joyfully. The enemy, in numbers unknown to us, were occupying the little town of Richmond, capital of Madison Parish, on the Bayou Vidale, fourteen miles back from the river, and their scouting parties several times came in sight of our camp but always
The booming spring with its balmy air refreshed and reinvigorated everything. The season for stern active military work was now at hand. The military organizations were stripped of everything that was not absolutely necessary for campaigning. Black, formidable-looking gunboats swept almost noiselessly down the current of the dark river that was now swollen to its greatest depth by the melting snow and rains of the north. A numerous fleet of transports and armed vessels lay at Young's Point and below. Every arm of the service in the land and river forces were gathering for the grand and formidable thrust that was soon to fill the Confederacy with consternation.
On the 5th of April the 16th struck tents and turned their backs to the river and marched away toward the interior of Louisiana. The roads in places were soft but the marching was easy and the men enjoyed it. About six miles out we crossed the line of the Shreveport Railroad, at the ruins of a tresslework [sic] that was destroyed a few months before by a Federal force under Gen Morgan L. Smith. Between this place and Richmond we passed two Indian mounds located west of the road. The early Spanish explorers in their search for the Eldorado and the Fountain of Youth, found a tribe of mound-building Indians in this region, but they seem to have become extinct long before the paleface set his habitations along the shores of the Great River, and the Spanish adventurers are, beyond a doubt, the only people of the outside world that ever came in contact with them.
At Richmond we went into camp on the north side of the Bayou Vidale west of town. Back of camp was a vast and almost impenetrable cane-brake, where the boys got plenty of material for beds. These tall, strong cane also made good summer houses by laying them in rows close together against a horrizontal [sic] pole elevated the required height.
The picket duty in proximity to these canebrakes, was a lively experience of mosquito fighting. During the greater part of the night these little pests, in swarms, kept up the attack. Tobacco smoke had but little effect, but by almost suffocating ourselves with wood smoke we could get tolerably free from them. If we lay down and wrapt [sic] up in our blankets they would somehow find a spot where they could pierce through and reach the skin. They were the most sociable musquitoes we had yet met.
This town was very small. It was built on both sides of the only street which was the public road. The place looked clean and would be very apt to remind a person of the descriptions of some of the towns of Holland on account of the water communications through the neighborhood. A small frame house in the centre of town was used as a printing office. A very small newspaper had been issued here weekly. Publication was now suspended by reason of the absence of the firm, and two shells that had perforated the building, one of which had demoralized the only press. At the intersections of Roundaway and Vidale Bayous, a floating bridge had been thrown over the latter stream.
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