Camp & Field Chapter 43 Camp & Field Index Page 16th OVI Home Page Camp & Field Chapter 45
The Camp & Field Articles
by Theodore Wolbach
Cpl. Theodore Wolbach

Cpl. Theodore D. Wolbach

Web Author's Notes:

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 44 - April, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
December 22, 1881


Spring was now well advanced in this latitude, and the weather generally was warm and pleasant, yet being so near the river the nights were cool. It was a common thing to see men around camp in the day time barefooted and in their shirt sleeves, but after sunset the clothing was put on again.

In building and repairing the levee in former years, many depressions were left where the earth had been taken out. These were full of water now, and well stocked with crawfish. These crustacea were easily captured by suspending in the water a piece of fat bacon attached to a string. They would seize the bacon with their big claws and hang on until they were lifted out of the water and shook off into some convenient vessel. In preparing them for eating it required little labor or ingenuity. They were first boiled, then the shell was easily removed from the meat, which was afterward fried or stewed more and seasoned to suit the taste. The shrimps that were caught in abundance in the river were prepared in the same way.

On the night of April 26th six more transports and twelve barges started the perilous trip down past the Vicksburg guns. The steamer Tigress was struck and sunk after it had passed.

On the night of May 4th, a little steam tug that was towing two barges had her boiler exploded by a shot, and much of the material on the barges was thrown into the river where the most of it was captured by the enemy, who came out in small boats. Several correspondents of prominent northern newspapers were aboard of these barges. They were all captured and passed through a bitter period of imprisonment. Some of them escaped from the enemy and after many days of awful suffering reached the Union lines in east Tennessee. One of them, Richardson, of the New York Tribune, set forth their experiences in an interesting book that was issued at the close of the war. The capturing of these correspondents was a misfortune, as much that was of great and general interest in the summer campaign never reached the leading journals of the country, and the movements of Grant's army was imperfectly reported.

We had been peculiarly unfortunate previous to this in running gunboats past Vicksburg. The ram Queen of the West, had passed in the winter, but got aground under the guns of Fort DeRussey, on Red river, and was captured. Afterward the iron-clad ram Indianola passed, and was attacked about two miles from Perkins' plantation by the Queen of the West and the Webb. After a short engagement the Webb rammed her adversary so severely, aft of the wheelhouse, that the Indianola was disabled and compelled to surrender. The rebels towed her into shallow water near to the Mississippi shore, where she sank, leaving the upper part above water. The cannon were removed and mounted on the rebel works at Grand Gulf. The wreck of the boat lay in plain view of our camp at Perkins' plantation.

Some time during the early part of Spring, the rebels up the Yazoo, fixed up an old barge and sent it afloat down the river. Our gunboat Tyler was on picket duty several miles up the river at the time, and when her crew saw the dark, formidable looking craft, they fired an alarm gun and fled to the mouth of the river, where the heavy iron-clads lay. Boats were cleared for action and the gunners stood at their posts ready to give the monster a warm reception. But the sham was detected, and to have a little more fun out of it, they towed it out into the current of the Mississippi and sent it down past Vicksburg, where it aroused a heavy fire from their water-batteries.

One of our steam rams successfully performed a very bold act before the Queen of the West passed the city. The enemy had a common river transport the Vicksburg, fitted up for naval purposes and moored at the city landing under the guns of their heaviest batteries. One of our rams dropped down quietly one night and gave it such a severe ramming, and perforated it so thoroughly with shell that it was never repaired by the enemy.

While we were enjoying a short period of contentment in our camp the gunboats were watching the rebel position at Grand Gulf, at the south side of the mouth of Black river. Now and then, pitching shots at each other at long range. On the 29th of April we moved down to Hard Times landing, three miles above Grand Gulf. It seemed to be a part of Grant's plans to have the navy si-

silence the rebel batteries, then land the infantry and storm the work. So to carry this into effect the gunboats Pittsburg, Lafayette, Mound City, Carondolet, Louisville, Tuscumbia and Benton, dropped down and went into action, and for four long hours engaged in a furious fight, with no profitable result on our side. Commodore Porter was present under fire, and directed the movements of the boats. Everything that skill and bravery could do was done, but the enemy's guns were too well entrenched to be affected by our fire. The boats drew out of the fight, the Tuscumbia being partially disabled by having three of her four bog chains cut off, dropped down with the current and tied up at the Louisiana shore. While the action was in progress our division crowded on to the transports out of range [and] viewed the exciting work with keen interest. Great columns of water were thrown up as the rebel shot skipped along the surface of the river. Our missiles raised clouds of the red Mississippi dirt on the hillsides. The ram Lafayette moved up the mouth of Black river and swung around with her heavy stern guns to the enemy. As she remained almost stationary she was at intervals almost completely enveloped in smoke, as her long, one hundred-pound Parrott guns were fired.

General Grant accompanied commodore Porter on a little steam-tug that kept moving about among the east here, forming a peninsula on the Louisiana side, that was densely covered with forest and subject to inundations in high water time. The levee run straight across the neck of land and was used as a road-way. We marched over this to the landing below. An abandoned plantation furnished an excellent camping place for the 13th Corps, that came pouring in and spreading out over the spacious fields. Some of the first regiments--the 16th among them--as soon as they stacked arms went for the vacated buildings and board fences for boards to lie on that night. A sandy-mustached officer of MClernand's staff, yelling and rushing about, tried to prevent these depredations. His lively efforts were attended with little success, which was due largely to his injudicious flourishing of a little revolver which the boys cared little for.

A private of the 22nd Iowa Infantry had written some humorous rhyme on the Running of the blockade, and the Contraband, which he recited from the bow of the Tuscumbia at the landing. He had a great crowd of listeners who loudly applauded the witty hits of his lines.

There was a great deal of hilarity and noise throughout the various bivouacs before the soldiers had got fairly settled down. After dark a sharp cannonade made up at the enemy's works at Grand Gulf, was opened on our boats that were passing their batteries. The run was safely accomplished. Some of the shots struck the boats but did not damage any of them. One shell killed some horses on one of the transports; another penetrated the Gen. Price and lodged in the ash box. A plucky negro picked it out and threw it into the river. The events of the day and evening kept the boys stirred up and anxious to know particulars. The gunboatsmen received many well merited compliments from the landsmen for working so manfully during the long hours of the engagement. Although protected by heavy iron plating the navy lost eighteen killed and fifty-six wounded.

The next morning, the 30th, we embarked on every available craft--gunboat, transport and barge--and moved out into the river. The Price had the Silver Wave and Forest Queen lashed to her. Steaming up stream a half mile this trio; with Osterhause's [sic] division aboard, possibly made the rebels think that we were going to land under their guns in force. With field glasses we could see some lively stirring around in their works. When every boat was crowded to its full capacity with its living cargo, the fleet started rapidly down the river. A pleasant run of six miles brought us to a landing called Bruinsburg, Miss. The writer does not recollect of seeing a town there; neither inhabitants. Near the place where we debarked were a few old frame buildings with no evidence of recent occupation. Rations were hurriedly brought ashore and issued to the soldiers, or rather they were told to take what they wanted. Abundance was given to each regiment, and the boys took a liberal supply of hard-tack, sow-belly and coffee--the staff of life, for an active campaign. Gen. Carr's division soon took up the march for the interior followed in a short time by our division under Gen. P.J. Osterhaus.

Camp & Field Chapter 43 Camp & Field Index Page 16th OVI Home Page Camp & Field Chapter 45