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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 50 - May, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
February 2, 1882


We were not destined to be inactive very long. Every regiment of Osterhaus' division was brought under fire before the engagement closed. Our regiment and the 22nd Ky. were sent away to the right front of the corps, and suddenly found themselves in the presence of a large but badly demoralized force of the enemy. Considerable firing was done and our two small regiments were forced back a short distance with some loss, but rallying they went in again and had the gratification of taking many prisoners. Loring had slipped away from the front of our corps and was endeavoring to cover the retreat of the rebel army that was making pell mell for Black River. Before night Loring found that his own retreat was cut off from the west and fearing the fate that had befell the rest of their army, he escaped to the south-west leaving all of his artillery in our hands. The scene from the center to the north part of the battlefield was horrifying. Some parts of the ground had been fought over several times; batteries had been taken again and again; thousands of soldiers of both armies commingled strewed the ground in every imaginable attitude of suffering and death. Artillery could not be used to good advantage in this battle. Much of the fighting was done in the forest by the infantry, and for long years the scarred trees will mark where the sturdy men of the west and the south faced each other. The left of the 13th corps, including Blair's division, had not entered into a general engagement with Loring, but the opposing lines grated harshly together and the fire flew wickedly at times leaving the ground thinly strewed with dead and disabled soldiers. Pollard's Lost Cause graphically presents the southern side of this woeful disaster to their arms. Gen. Joe Johnson had repeatedly, by courier, ordered Pemberton to attack the Federal forces before they could concentrate. But Pemberton seemed bewildered by the movements of his enemy and could not comprehend the propriety of obeying his superior's order, therefore hesitating until it was too late, and then undertook a movement of his own conception--to strike Grant's forces in the neighborhood of Raymond and cut off his communications. He had set his troops in motion and was about executing this plan when the Federal troops attacked him with such impetuosity that other arrangements became instantly necessary. Stephenson was the first to receive the attack and finding that his troops were about to break, dispatched to Pemberton that he was assailed by about sixty thousand Federal troops and could not hold out any longer without help. Loring and Bowen, each in command of large divisions, were appealed to for reinforcements. The latter sent two brigades, the former none. Loring has been bitterly censured, by southern writers, for disobedience of orders in this fight. Severely as he was criticised by the Confederate military, it did not dispossess him of his command; but somehow he remained in favor with the Davis administration until the end of the war, then went abroad and accepted service under the Khedive of Egypt and was made a pasha in the Egyptian army. During the short time that we were lying inactive in the early part of the engagement, some of the boys got permission to go up to the scene of action. Two of these, sergeant Thos. T. Dill and private John Jorden, reached the left of the 32nd O.V.I. as it was getting ready to charge the 1st Miss. Rebel battery. They went in with the regiment, charged the battery, and captured guns, horses and all. Many unharmed rebels crouching in ditches and depressions ready to surrender, were run over and left to others in the rear to care for. Long lines of knapsacks, left where the rebel infantry had stripped for the fight, were pass-

ed. Dill getting ahead espied a belated rebel soldier that was trying to get away. A smart run brought Dill close enough to cover him with his rifle and after a little sharp urging compelled him to surrender. A new German regiment of ours that fought on the right had been made the target of many a sportive remark by reason of their peculiar national ways. They wore Sibley hats and long dress coats, and the most of them smoked German pipes. They were a new organization, patriotic and well disciplined, but previous to this had not been tested in battle. To the witticisms of their comrades in other regiments they generally replied: Shust you vait, ve shows you how to fight. And they kept their promise. On that dreaded day, at Champion Hill, they emulated the example of their ancient ancestors of the Teutoburg [sic] forest. The Germans for a time were so situated, by reason of the topography of the country, that they were out of sight of the troops to the right and left. The rebels detecting the peculiar new looking appearance of their uniforms quickly concluded that they were new troops and would be easy to break, attacked them with particular energy. Rolling volleys and clouds of smoke marked the alignment of the Germans until the repeated onsets of the enemy were repulsed with slaughter. Then from hundreds of deep Teuton chests went up a yell that proclaimed them veterans and silenced forever the satire of their neighbors. But the glory had been purchased at a ghastly price. Scores of the faithful regiment lay on the ground dead or wounded. After the battle a long trench was dug and the dead Germans with their dress coats neatly buttoned were laid side by side and buried with the honors of war. Another new regiment of Iowa soldiers equally distinguished themselves by charging through a storm of canister and capturing a six gun battery and holding it until forced back by an overwhelming force of the enemy's infantry. But before relinquishing they shot down every horse to prevent the convenient removal of the guns. In advancing over the contested ground we fond many cartridges and bits of cartridge paper that was marked Birmingham-- English bullets and English powder brought across the ocean by blockade runners to destroy the Federal Union. We found much ammunition that fitted our rifles and the powder was of a much better quality than our own. The panic stricken Confederates, fleeing in such haste, left their dead and wounded in our hands. The surgeons and the ambulance corps were busy collecting the wounded and caring for them in the temporary field hospitals, while others were doing the sad work of carrying the dead to places of interment. Some mischievous parties were searching the pockets and knapsacks of the dead Confederates. A few watches and much tobacco was found. Some of the rebel canteens contained highwines, probably procured on the march at some country distillery.

Late in the afternoon the divisions of Carr and Osterhaus were started rapidly after the retreating Confederates, who were crowding the road and wending through the bordering fields in their mad haste to get away from their elated and victorious pursuers. Minutes were precious and could not be wasted in brushing the dust from the uniforms or washing the sweat and powder-stains from the faces. Twilight and darkness came and burning wagons and other war material, fired by the exasperated foe, gave a lurid and inspiring tint to the thrilling scene of a mighty moving mass of men pressing rapidly westward.

Rolling on in strange confusion,
Friend and foeman, foot and horse,
Like some wild and troubled torrent
Sweeping down its mountain course.

Some of the burning wagons were filled with ammunition, causing several dangerous explosions. In one of these, Capt. Thomas, of the 22nd Ky., was terribly scorched. His devoted comrades, loth to leave him to the uncertain care of strangers, wrenched a door from a building and tenderly bore him along with the marching column to our next bivouac, where he was left to be cared for appropriately. Many weeks afterward he came back to his regiment a badly disfigured man.

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