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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 51 - May, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
February 9, 1882


Osterhaus' division was halted at Edward's Depot. Carr's men extended from there to about a mile beyond; our advance being about five miles from the enemy's strong position at Black River Bridge. Many stragglers had been picked up and many more were scattered over the country to the right and left. A train of freight cars, at the depot here, were burning as we came up. Some of the cars were loaded with Confederate army stores. One was loaded with bacon, the next to it with fixed artillery ammunition. The encroaching fire set the shells to exploding and made the immediate neighborhood terribly dangerous, yet some reckless fellows remained at the bacon and saved much of it from being burned before the fierce heat drove them back. A great lot of baled cotton was licked up by the flames, but not before many of the boys had secured quantities of it to lie on.

The 16th was formed across the main road a few rods from the station. Some artillery was unlimbered and pointed westward, the cannoniers [sic] wrapping themselves in their blankets and lying close to their guns. When the fire had consumed everything that had been ignited, and nothing was left but the glowing embers, the majority of the soldiers were asleep, or at least quiet. There was no time during the night that some one was not moving about or groups conversing in undertones. Now and then a straggler came in from the direction of the battle-field and invariably inquired of every man that was awake and up, What regiment is this? Now and then a staff officer picked his way among the prostrate men on some errand of duty. So the hours of darkness rolled by and when daylight came we were in the road and on the march again, without taking time to prepare coffee or take a formal breakfast. The sudden resumption of the march reproduced the excitement of the previous evening.

We were now in the level country embraced in the Black River bottom. This land was sandy and the dust deep, but not as disagreeable now as it would be later in the day. The road lay along the course of Baker's Creek for a few miles. Here we found some excellent springs of cool, clear water and almost every one had a chance to fill their canteen as we moved slowly, feeling our way and keeping pace with Carr's men ahead. The roads and adjoining surface was liberally tramped by the brogans of Pemberton's army the day before. Fences were badly demoralized and here and there were still a few evidences of the wreck of battle.

About half a mile to the left of the road some men were seen leaving a cotton gin and making rapidly for the woods some distance beyond. A few cavalry belonging to Osterhaus' escort started across the country in pursuit. The chase was interesting and exciting, and all that saw it enjoyed it. As the cavalry neared the retreating party we saw the glittering sabre blades and then the fugitives give up and surrender. They proved to be rebel infantrymen, and one was a mulatto.

Soon Carr's advance came within range of the guns at Black River Bridge, and a few shells came screeching over toward our troops and exploded in or near the road we were on. The troops advanced steadily by the flank and deployed near a large plantation house about half a mile from the enemy--Carr to the right and Osterhaus to the left of the road. Carr's men were protected by forest, but Osterhaus' division was exposed in open country. Seventeen pieces of field artillery, excellently served, posted behind earthworks, elaborately constructed under the directions of a skillful engineer, belched and bellowed their shotted contents at our brigade as it executed a grand left front into line. In the clear air of that splendid May morn-

ing the puffs of cannon smoke looked like great balls of snow white cotton; whirling wreaths ascended from the muzzles of guns and dissipated in the pure atmosphere above. The 1st Indiana battery (German) ran into position and soon found their hands full, but the sturdy boys worked enthusiastically. Foster's 1st Wisconsin, with their deadly twenty-pounders, galloped into the iron storm and adjusted their guns with their characteristic coolness. The part of the line occupied by the 16th advanced through a young orchard planted with corn that was up knee high. Our batteries were posted on ground a little higher than the bottom land ahead. We were on the extreme right of our division and the right flank of our regiment was within ten rods of the railroad. A few rods beyond was the wagon road. The left of Carr's was still farther to our right, so that there was a gap of about thirty rods between the two divisions. Passing on through a patch of swamp grass we reached a fence, tore it down, and a short distance beyond were ordered to lie down. The right of our brigade was in a badly exposed situation, squarely between the artillery of both armies, and right in the middle of the shower of flying and exploding shells; in easy range of the rebel guns but too far away to do execution with muskets. Frequently a ball would strike the ground and bound past us; others threw clouds of dirt over us. One of our shells exploded a caisson in the rebel works, but we only had a few moments to feel good over that when a percussion shell struck one of Foster's limber chests and blew it into splinders, [sic] frightening the four horses attached to it so that they started off at a wild gallop toward the left of our division where they were caught by the infantry. Some of the fragments of the chest struck and unhorsed Gen. Osterhaus and Capt. Foster who were near by. The General's injuries were so painful that his command was temporarily turned over to a General Lee, who was with us so short a time that we knew but little of him--only that he was a brave man, was wounded and left us two days afterward.

Slowly the line crept forward in that atmosphere of death--losing men but gaining ground. Lieut. ----- -----, acting adjutant, was injured while leading his horse across the dismantled fence by a shell striking a rail, knocking it against his knee. Corporal Edward Smith, of Co. E, was struck by a piece of a case shot that went clean through the base of the neck, cutting the jugular vein. Poor Ed. Struggled a few minutes but his large gray eyes were soon fixed in death. In his blouse pocket he had a little book called the Scottish Chiefs, in another pocket was a picture of a lady friend, Miss Manges, of Wooster. Some of his comrades took his accoutrements off and laid him back for other hands to bury. Private John Moret, a Frenchman, tall and fine looking, was the next victim. He was struck in the head and died instantly. Sergeant Daniel G. Spring, faithful, intelligent and educated, sank to the earth with a broken skull. Edward Neville got a severe wound in the leg and died of gangrene in the hospital some time afterward. A man of Co. F got the calf of his left leg badly ripped, but recovered and rejoined his company. Capt. Taneyhill was struck and temporarily benumbed. Though in great pain he stuck to business and stayed with the boys. A number besides these were hit but not enough to discommode them much. Carr's men, by reason of the protection of the forest, were advanced farther than us.

Suddenly there was a wild yell that we knew didn't come from rebel throats. One of Carr's brigades, under Gen. Lawler, had slipped the bridle, and were rushing at the enemy's works. This movement operated like an electric shock. The whole line sprang to their feet and swept forward without any special order, and went over the works, capturing seventeen pieces of artillery that were yet hot from being worked so rapidly. Almost two thousand Confederates surrendered, the balance fled like a mob to a floating bridge across the narrow river. Some swam across and a few were drowned. The rebels on the bluffs beyond the river kept up an annoying fire at us over the heads of their retreating comrades. Some of our boys were busy with the captured cannon, pointing them at the retreating enemy, and loading and firing with indifferent skill. In one of the limber-chests, with a lot of fixed ammunition, was some burning cloth that was removed by D.W. Bell, of Co. C, just in time to prevent an explosion that undoubtedly would have killed several of our men.

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