Camp & Field Chapter 46 Camp & Field Index Page 16th OVI Home Page Camp & Field Chapter 48
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 47 - May, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
January 12, 1882


Tis the evening of the battle,
and the roaring and the rattle,
of the cannon, still is sounding in my ear.

That night we bivouaced [sic] near where we had fought, posting pickets in every direction. There was moving back and forth over the ground where the dead lay, during all hours of the night. Soldiers were searching for missing comrades. The Governor of Illinois, attended by a few men with a lantern, hunted faithfully during the gloomy night over the fields and through the ravines for the neglected ones, where the tragic events of the day had transpired. Some time during the progress of the fight, on our right, one of our field pieces was worked so rapidly that it was rendered useless. When the battle was over the men dug a grave and buried the cannon placing above it a head board with the name of a Sergeant on it. It is a sad fact to refer to, that a large per cent. of the wounded of this fight as well as other engagements that soon followed died of gangrene. Whether those to whose care they were left, were incompetent or insufficiently provided with help and medical supplies, is not known, though the mortality among the wounded who were treated in the hospitals back of our lines at Vicksburg, was much less.

The morning air was filled with the fragrance of magnolia blossoms as we leisurely took up the march on the right hand road for Port Gibson, two miles distance. By the roadside, here and there, as we moved along, dead Confederate soldiers lay in their blood-soiled uniforms. Before sunset these men will be under the sod and the dew waiting the judgment day. Some of the knapsacks lying on the ground are marked on the back, in white letters, Morton Rifles. They belong to members of the 35th Indiana Infantry. Those that carried them are probably helpless, back in the field hospital or disposed of by the burying party. Near a little country church where some of the enemy for a while had taken position, lay about a dozen of their dead with their pockets pulled inside out. Further along were some of our men exhibiting to the passing troops the captured battle-flag of the 14th Arkansas Infantry. The names of battles and skirmishes were embroidered on it. Luka and Hatchie Bridge were among them. Presently we noticed the men in advance of us running to a nook at the roadside as they passed. Coming nearer we discovered the attraction; it was a dead rebel with about half of his head gone. Fences were torn down all along and the fences on either side were scarred and tramped by the combatants the day before. A part of an arm with the gray sleeve attached lay up on a high bank; possibly its former possessor was yet living. On an elevation in a field, two brass cannon of the old pattern, with handles cast on each side near the trunnions, were yet attached to their dismantled carriages. For rods around the ground was strewed with the wreck of contest, and furrowed with shot. This spot marked the last stand made by the Confederate left the day before. A mile from this place we reached the suburbs of Port Gibson, the hot-headed, aristocratic little town whose Mayor went out to fight the Yankees the previous day and was now lying in his house disabled by a gun shot wound. On the hill before we entered the town we passed some of McPherson's troops. A few of our boys met old friends in the 80th O.V.I. The road was full of soldiers on the move and jubilant. Earlier in the day the first of our forces that struck the town had a little skirmish that did not check the march but little, but fording the bayou Pierre they pushed on. The little suspension bridge was almost destroyed by fire in the morning. Our advance had extinguished the flames but combustible portions were smoking when we came up. Pioneer were busy constructing a floating bridge; after this was finished we crossed over. A very nice congratulatory order of Gen. McClernand's

was read to us that evening. The boys foraged and seemed to get plenty. Fresh meat and poultry was particularly coveted. Many darkeys came around and expressed their joy. Their quaint utterances excited mirth among the soldiers.

To-day, May 2nd, the rebels evacuated Grand Gulf, and spiked the guns that they left behind. As soon as our forces were apprised of it they occupied it and made it our base of supplies for a short time. The army that had been fighting us retreated northward and crossed the Big Black river, and from the opposite shore they guarded every ferry that was accessible by regular roads. Port Gibson is the terminus of a short railroad that runs to Grand Gulf. A solitary locomotive stood in a damaged condition on the track at the depot. Many horses and mules in the country around were taken by our foragers for army uses.

Before daylight on the morning of the 3rd, we were up and astir with our accoutrements on; before sunrise we were moving on a road that led to the northeast. The day was beautiful and the marching easy. About the middle of the forenoon we passed a great pile of bacon that had been hauled to the roadside. It was reported to have belonged to the Confederate Government. The boys bayoneted pieces of it as they passed. Far ahead the line was dotted with these hunks of meat that were borne above the soldiers' heads on the bayonets.

At the outskirts of a little town called Rocky Springs, a group of black people, principally men, were gathered in front of a large and spacious residence, graveled walks and drives traversing a grove of trees that partly hid the view of the house from the road. Some of the blacks had little bundles in their hands and seemed intent on leaving their masters. A very fair skinned female in their midst was appealing to them to stay. A bright-looking, full-blooded black that fell in with the 16th was interrogated about leaving his Missus in that way; his quick reply was: She aint Missus, she's slave herself. Massa and Missus and de white chillen don left yesterday, and befo to-night dar wont be a culled man on dat plantation. As the 16th was in the heart of town the column halted. A white woman came to a front door and looked angrily at the bronzed and dust covered soldiers. Of course the boys looked at her and would have been glad to have had a social chat had not the unfriendly glare of her eyes precluded the idea. Standing there she was the perfect picture of a virago, and we knew that behind those thin lips was a venomous tongue. She held her fire well for a few moments, then opened, Didn't you'ns ever see anybody before? Well really madam, responded one of the boys, It is a long time since we have had the pleasure of gazing at such an amiable looking creature as yourself. He would have said more but for the tumultuous applause that drove the female from the field.

Halting long before night we busied ourselves hunting water, foraging, talking to the negroes, sleeping, &c., until night. Our orders for the night were always to be ready to move at a moments warning. On the 4th we remained in bivouac, getting occasional reports of affairs in front. The country around us was fine, the surface was rolling, and about two thirds of it was cleared and had long been under cultivation. The balance was covered with heavy timber of about the same kind as is common to Ohio, with the exception of magnolia and pecan which abounded here; and some of the ravines were filled with cane. Much of the clay of this country is red or rather a yellowish red color. During heavy rains it washes readily into deep furrows. This is noticeable all over this part of Mississippi. On the 5th we started early with some prospects of a fight. About noon we reach a broad, dry, gravely creek bed at Brown's plantation, not very far from one of the fords of Black river. Fences were down and dead horses lay in sight. Our cavalry and that of the enemy had a sharp fight here in the morning, the latter were worsted and lost some prisoners. Shortly after the halt hundreds of men were scattered over the neighborhood foraging. Some of the men were a little rude in entering houses where people had remained at home and taking property that was of no use to a soldier.

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