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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 45 - May, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
December 29, 1881


With nimble step and light hearts we moved out on the road that led from the river to the highlands of the State. Over the intervening forest we could see the tops of the hills and a few houses. Marching without halt through a strip of heavy timber, where to the right and left swamp oak and cypress

Bearded with moss and in garments green
Stand like Druids of old.

We soon reached the foot of the bluffs where the road ascends by a steep grade. There was a gratifying sensation in the thought that we were soon to be out of the lowlands where the fortunes of war had kept us for four long disagreeable months. As we marched up higher and higher, and looked beyond the dark forest below, away beyond on the great river where the boats were active in bringing the men and material down that were to follow us, our glad hearts swelled with that irresistible martial feeling that naturally finds vent in good healthy yells. We were now truly in a hostile country in close proximity to large armies of the foe, but they were of our race and we knew that we were their peers in battle. We had an alternative to inhale the malaria of the Mississippi bottoms, or board the lion in his den. We willingly, I might say joyfully, accepted the latter. Yet there were a few--though not with a lack of resolution--who dreaded coming into this State to fight. The preceding events had made the great magnitude of the work at hand apparent. Hitherto every effort to get in the rear of Vicksburg had been promptly and fiercely resisted. Jeff Davis had just made a gushing speech to Pemberton's soldiers, in which he declared that the stronghold of Vicksburg was second in importance to none in the Confederacy, and must be held at all hazards. Richmond and Vicksburg seemed to be the two vital points in the hands of the enemy. When they capitulated, we looked for the grand collapse. The former seemed as safe from Federal occupation as the city of London. The vulnerability of the latter was now to receive a severe test. Let us see with what result.

Before entering fairly into this campaign, the regiment had been stripped of every sick, or convalescent man. Every unnecessary encumbrance had been left behind. Consequently there was little straggling. During all that delightful day the boys marched compact and well. Often passing between long rows of rose hedges that were now in bloom and filled the air with its balmy fragrance.

At almost every plantation the appearance of hasty flight was evident. Everything in chaotic disorder, all the imaginable variety of household goods and fittings littered over the floors; doors standing open and white folks gone. The negroes, with few exceptions, remained. They were happy and jubilant; gladly answered every question that was asked, and volunteered to show us where provisions and other valuable stores were hidden in the woods and the canebrakes.

We met a darkey with a mule team. He had turned out of the road, and was waiting for the column to pass. His intelligent and quick replies were appreciated by all, as they swept by. All that afternoon we hurried along. The sun went down, and the shadows of night thickened around us. Still on the march, but moving slower, sometimes halting and standing in the road a short time, then moving leisurely on. Our commander had wisely taken the precautions to have the roads that branched off from the main one picketed. As we passed these squads of men, scarcely distinguishable from stationary objects in the darkness, questions were asked and answered in muffled tones. About 2 o'clock in the morning the boom of a cannon broke the stillness of the night. The troops stopped to await orders. Presently more shots in quick succession followed the first. The advance of Carr's division had run against the Confederates, posted so as to command the road we were on. Some of Carr's troops quickly deployed and waited for the dawn of

day. After tarrying a long time at a plantation, and lighting up the scene with piles of burning rails, where many slaves mingled and chatted with the boys, our brigade, composed of the 22d Kentucky, 114th, 42d and 16th Ohio regiments, and Foster's 1st Wisconsin Battery, closed up onto Carr and lay down. The frequent sharp crack of a musket half a mile to the front told us that the pickets were on the lookout. The accustomed ears of the soldiers could readily detect, by the peculiar report of the gun, which side was shooting. If it was a sharp pop, the firing was toward us. If a loud bang, it was away from us. As the first light of approaching day appeared in the east we moved closer, and when it was light enough to find water, many of the boys commenced making coffee in their tin cups and little cans. But the situation was getting a little too exciting for an elaborate breakfast. A rebel battery a short distance ahead, but out of sight, sent some shells screaming over our heads.

The enemy had taken position on what is called Thompson's Hill, (although it was sometimes called Magnolia Hill,) two miles from Port Gibson, the capital of Boone county.

In a narrow, deep ravine traversed by a small creek, the bulk of three divisions were massed, Osterhaus, Carr and Hovey, three good fighting Generals, were present. The ravine and country back a short distance was woodland. In front of us, and ordering the creek, was a steep bluff about one hundred feet high. This was covered with underbrush and small timber to the top, masking our force from the enemy's view. The road led through a deep cut up the face of the hill. Skirmishers had been sent up there early and were now exchanging shots at a lively rate with the rebels. Regiments began to move up the defile and turn to the

right or left at the top where the road forked. The troops did not march up in particular order; sometimes the men of different brigades got mixed. In this manner our regiment and the 11th Indiana Infantry ascended the hill. The 11th had sabre bayonets similar to ours, but their rifles were of smaller caliber, and lighter. At the summit of the hill we could see out over a partially cleared country. Here we filed to the left and the Indiana boys to the right. Bullets were zipping pretty close, though we could not see any enemy, and we could only detect their location by the puffs of smoke from behind the distant undulations and bushes. About forty rods from the forks of the road we dressed our line and were ordered to lie down. Troops to the left of us were already in position and had lost some men. A moment after we had reached our place an exploding shell killed and disabled some men in one of the preceding regiments. Near our line and a little to the rear was a large cotton gin building that was frequently struck by the rebel shells. The boys gave the flying clap-boards and splinters a wide berth. Two ten pound Rodman guns, of the 7th Michigan Battery, went into action here and at once found themselves hotly engaged with the enemy's artillery, which seemed to be of larger caliber. More of our guns came quickly into action and the rapid firing became interesting. Our well disciplined artillerymen worked admirably. Suddenly when the gun was loaded every man was flat on the ground and up again in the smoke of the discharge readjusting and loading. Soon the rebel guns were silent, one of them being dismounted. The various regiments of our division now began to move, seeking positions farther to the front. The face of Osterhaus wore a holiday smile as he moved from point to point directing the movement. He made humorous remarks to the soldiers, who all liked him. To one regiment he says: Poys, we'll vip the kraut out of tem rebels to-day. After a short tramp we stood in line of battle with a dense forest about ten rods distant in our front. Our skirmishers disappeared beneath the green foliage and halted. Carr and Hovey had struck and developed a strong rebel force on our right. In our elevated position we had an excellent view of some of the troops here. We saw the 18th Indiana regiment come out of a low place, where they had been lying, and make a charge on a rebel regiment that had been annoying them by sharp-shooting. It was a magnificent and thrilling sight to see that dark line of brave men crossing that open field on the double quick in the face of a musketry fire. In the rear of their line there is a thin sprinkling of men left on the ground--some are moving, a few are quite still--dead.

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