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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 43 - April, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
December 15, 1881


All soldiers who were inclined to read found plenty of literature about the houses here. One thing we began to discover here and found additional proof afterward, that the rich planters of the cotton states patronized the publications and authors of Europe in preference to those of our own country. Our encampment of a little more than a week here was not an unpleasant one. A part of our corps that was ahead had struck the Mississippi at New Carthage about eighteen miles below Vicksburg, and were cooped up on the levee, the only dry land for camping, and were as bad off as they had been at Young's Point. We could contend with heavy rains and get along well enough when we had good tents to shelter us. Our day came to march again and we moved on April 13th through fearful roads all day across fields. Avoiding the roads where they were the worst, picking our way around ponds and over bayous, with great loads of mud sticking to our shoes, the regiment dwindling away and becoming smaller every hour. Sweating, weary and hungry the advance fragment of the 16th reached the place for the night's encampment. When we stacked arms there were but forty muskets present. The stragglers came pouring in until a late hour. Some reached us the next morning having slept in houses along the road.

Several nights afterward, April 16th, we were attracted by distant cannonading [sic] in the direction of Vicksburg. Fitful flashes reflected from the sky above the horizon, and the resemblance was not unlike the growling of far off thunder. The rapid thumping faintly borne to our cars, and its protracted duration created with us an eager desire to know what had broke loose over at the defiant city. The next day a report reached us that a fleet of our gunboats and transports had run down past Vicksburg. The report was, before many hours, verified to us by a glimpse of the tall familiar smoke stacks of the transports as we neared the river at Smith's plantation. Seven gunboats and three transports with ten barges in tow had started to run that terrible gauntlet of three miles of fire. One of the transports, the Henry Clay, was disabled and set on fire by the rebel shells. It was no use to try to save her so the crew abandoned her and escaped to the north shore, while the unfortunate craft, a roaring crackling mass of flames, floated away with the current illuminating the dark bosom of the river with the brilliancy of mid-day. Slowly consuming as she was borne along until her charred hull drifted a dreary wreck miles away toward the sea, thus ending a long and useful career. The rest of the fleet passed without much damage. Two of the transports, the Henry Clay and Silver Wave, had crews that had volunteered from the Infantry regiments that were encamped up the river. The Forest Queen had her regular crew. None of the boats escaped without being struck and some of them showed some ugly shot marks. The gunboats, which were expected to approach nearest to the batteries, had their weak spots covered with tough, green, swamp timber, some of which was badly splintered by well directed shells.

A number of the boats and barges moored at New Carthage, on the west side, where the greater part of one division of our corps (the 13th) was already established. From Smith's plantation to the river, distance about one mile, the land was flooded by a cut in the river levee. The troops ahead of us had crossed this water in flat-boats that they constructed with timber procured principally from old buildings near at hand. We were ferried over in these rude home-made boats, and it must be admitted that the trip was attended with considerable excitement and not altogether void of danger. The route lay through the forest where trees and other obstacles must be avoided. Suck-holes and dangerous places were numerous, and several small boats were capsized in them, but no one was drowned, the boys always managing to keep above water by hanging onto boughs or swimming until rescued. Difficult

as it was to navigate this inundated forest with small crafts, the Silver Wave and Forest Queen skillfully accomplished it at the expense of some of their light wood-work that was broken by projecting branches. Very little land besides the levee at New Carthage was above water. Much of the back country was one vast watery waste. The principle [sic] building at this place was a tall structure and owned by a rabid secessionist, whose language was boastful and obnoxious, so much so that Gen. Osterhaus put him under arrest and held him as a prisoner under his own roof.

Down the levee about a half mile from Carthage, a barricade was built across the narrow strip of dry land. Here some shots had been exchanged at long range with the enemy. The latter, however, disappeared from the vicinity of the river after our gunboats came down.

One day as a group of our fellows were looking out over a large submerged plantation field, they espied an object swimming at the edge of a wood almost half a mile away. Watching the thing sharply for a few moments they decided that it was a bear. Getting their rifles a few of them started out in a yawl to secure the game. When the animal saw the boat approaching, it swam straight for it and the boys were soon greatly surprised to discover that it was a large Newfoundland dog. They rescued the poor creature from the water and brought him back to camp.

From New Carthage we moved down the river, by short marches, to Perkins' plantation, where we found good camping grounds. Perkins was a member of the Confederate Congress, and was reported to be the owner of 19000 acres of land. The proprietor's house was destroyed by fire, the flames having been applied by his own hands when the Federal forces approached. This was probably not the only case of hot-headed devilishness among the Union haters of the south. If Perkins expected to spite the Yankee, he certainly committed a mistake for they cared little for such bluster. Surrounding the charred debris of the house, was the remains of a small but once beautiful park that required constant care to keep it in the condition it had been in before the house was burned. The walks were of white gravel, a rarity in that country. In a bower of trained vines stood a marble cenotaph erected to the memory of a Perkins that was lost at sea. About forty rods north was a handsome grove of maples, where the soldiers congregated by thousands to play cards and gamble. Money was plenty with some of the troops and it was handled recklessly. Strict orders against gambling were issued and enforced. Gamblers were arrested and their money confiscated for the hospital fund. It was an unpleasant duty to go into a crowd and arrest the offenders, and it also required some back-bone. Captain Taneyhill, much against his wish, was sent by Gen. Osterhaus one day to perform this disagreeable duty. He took a part of his company with him and strictly carried out his instructions, capturing a large sum of greenbacks. McClernand's corps was concentrated here, and was well in hand for the probable necessities of the near future. The land and river were kept well reconnoitered south of us. A small force of our cavalry generally attended to the land part of this business. They also did extreme out-post duty, and many were the alarms for fancied or real causes that these fellows created in camp. One night a squad posted far down the levee road came galloping back past the infantry pickets, firing carbine and revolver to the right and left into the bordering gloom. One of their bullets struck William Harbaugh, one of the infantry pickets, on the leg producing a stinging but not dangerous wound.

The wooden gunboat, Gen. Price, lay on the river near the camp of the 16th. This boat had come down past the rebel batteries receiving very slight injuries, though it had no armor or protection against heavy ordinance, and its bow gun had no bulwark, but was exposed clear down to the deck. The Price was captured from the rebels at the naval combat, at Memphis, on the 6th day of June the previous year. In the Union cause it continued to do good service in patrolling the river.

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