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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 48 - May, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
January 19, 1882


Many of the white secessionists that hated and feared the Union soldiers, had hastily gathered some of their most valuable loose articles, loaded them into wagons and fled eastward toward the Alabama line. In a few instances valuable goods, notably silver ware, were taken to secluded places away from the public roads and buried; but as the negroes were extremely friendly to the Yankees, these depositories were pointed out and plundered.

A curious event that attained unusual publicity among the soldiers while in this bivouac, was the novel method of an old lady to secrete some gold coin. She opened her carriage cushions, put the money inside and carefully sewed them up again, leaving them in the vehicle, satisfied that the soldiers had no use for such property, and no desire to disturb it. Hundreds of blue coats were on the premises every day in and around the carriage house and in fact everywhere where mortal could creep or climb. In an evil moment one of the boys conceived the idea of rigging up a pleasure outfit with the old lady's carriage and a plug that he found grazing in a neighboring lot, and when he drove away the lady was in a condition of mind not easy to describe. She appealed to him to leave the buggy, coaxed him, threatened to tell his Gineral, but to all he had the one reply that he was just borrowing it to take a ride, and would soon return it. Not daring to tell the soldiers promiscuously of the hidden treasure, she went to Osterhaus' headquarters and made the secret and circumstances known to him. The good-hearted German called up a cavalryman of his escort, and giving him instructions sent him to search for the old lady's property. After a short absence he found the fellow and informed him that the General would like to see him and insisted that he would act as escort and they would go at once to headquarters. Arriving there he was ordered to alight, and after receiving a short reprimand was ordered to report to his command; leaving his outfit to the rightful owner, who soon transferred the shining eagles to a securer place.

A vast crowd of contrabands had followed the army and were coming in every hour. About every company had one or more negro cooks; still there were hundreds without occupation and unprovided for until they were organized into military companies. This work received special attention and the plan worked well. Officers were appointed from the white regiments and the able soldiers received their daily instructions. Eventually they acquired a discipline equal to that of white soldiers, making excellent material for garrison duty and also doing some clever fighting. The black women and children that abandoned their homes were not properly disposed of till long afterward. There was suffering among them and their children often cried for food.

Shots were exchanged each day with the enemy on some part of our line of movement. Brilliant little episodes, sometimes attended with bloodshed and daring rides of mounted couriers through hazardous territory, exposed to the inroads of rebel cavalry and beset with lurking bushwhackers, contributed to the excitement of the extreme front and helped to keep the troops on the alert and ever ready to strike.

Some nights the ground between the advance pickets and reserves was regularly patrolled. In this quiet work the night discipline of an army was observed with particular exactness. On the 6th we received a mail. Henry Kauffman, a prominent citizen of Wayne county, Ohio, came up from Grand Gulf and gave us a short visit, then hurried back again, no doubt thinking that this was a situation not designed for a noncombatant.

On the 8th Generals Grant and McClernand reviewed our corps. Many of the boys were wearing hats that they had picked up since the beginning of warm weather. It gave the organization an unmilitary look, but the commanding officers found no fault with it; possibly the discipline and physical condition of the men was of more importance to them just then.

On the 10th, at about 8 o'clock in the morning, we moved forward on the Jackson road. The dust was very thick at times and water not very plenty. To-day we passed through Cayuga, a very small place. Here more evidence of hasty flight presented itself in the topsy turvy appearance of things. It seemed that the terror stricken people stood not on the order of going but suddenly vamoosed. The negroes had been glad to remain behind and enjoy the longed for opportunity of welcoming the Federal troops, that they looked upon as their deliverers, although incredulous and preposterous stories had been told them of our frightful appearance. A group of happy black folks at one of our halting places entertained some of the boys with a recital of what they had heard said of us. A wench with a dental display that would have excited the envy of a city belle, exclaimed De white folks don tole us dat de Yankees all had ho'ns and was de wost lookin' people dat eber de Lo'd let live, but bless you we couldn't beleebe it. We's so glad you's come. Now we's free. Joyful utterances that seemed to come spontaneously from hearts overflowing with gladness were common during the days of this invasion, but the rough soldier with his serious prospective work saw little in them that was pathetic; though they were immensely amusing in the patois in which they were given.

Next day, May 11th, we remained in bivouac by the roadside, and Sherman's corps passed us on the way to the front. Sherman had been left back at Young's Point to make a demonstration up the Yazoo as a diversion in their favor. Having satisfactorily done that he rapidly followed us up leaving Blair's Division temporarily at Milliken's Bend, but soon relieved by other troops, they joined us on the 16th. As Sherman's soldiers were passing friendly greetings were exchanged and many questions asked and answered. They looked tired from their hard marching in the hot sun but were cheerful. For a long time the dust brown ranks kept moving on. The 8th Wisconsin Infantry with its living historic eagle borne on a shield by the side of the National colors, and many other regiments and batteries that had been in battle at Ft. Donelson, Shiloh and Corinth formed a part of this formidable procession. A German regiment, 13th Missouri, to which our Division General, Osterhaus, formerly belonged, were particularly interesting to us as almost every officer and man was foreign born; besides this their arms were the same as ours--short French rifles and sword bayonets. Eight o'clock the next morning found us on the road moving toward Edward's Depot, a station on the Jackson and Vicksburg R.R., where the enemy was known to be in heavy force and willing to give battle. While moving occasional sounds like distant firing reached our ears. In the afternoon we reached a wide level track of country through which ran a small stream called Fourteen Mile creek. As the troops of our corps neared this they deployed to the front into line. Our division being in the second line. Artillery unlimbered and prepared for action. The Infantry stacked arms and waited for further orders; a few men were allowed to go from each company for water. Now and then rifle shots were heard distinctly and not very far to the front. A battle seemed imminent and the indications were that we were to fight on the defensive. At night we lay down with very strict orders to be ready to move at a moment's warning. The night air was cool and a little damp. Almost every soldier that was not on duty slept and the hours of darkness wore away. Returning daylight brought its usual activity, but no alarm gun had been fired.

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