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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 55 - May, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
March 9, 1882


On the 23rd there was a short suspension of hostilities to enable our forces to remove the dead that lay in the more exposed places. While this was in progress the opposing armies had a chance to rise up out of the earth and engage in a social chat. The artillerymen in our front were Mississippians. They were dressed in good grey uniforms and were a little saucy. The infantry were Texans, dressed in butternut--belonging to Wayl's Legion--had been organized at camp Groce, near Tyler, Texas. A more illiterate set of men and boys were never brought together. They asked curious question s of the Wah. Wanted some of our coffee but had nothing to swap for it, as grub was short. Intellectually there was a contrast noticeable between them and their comrades the artillery boys, though every man was a good soldier and a dead shot.

When the truce ended the opposing armies vanished behind their defences and the ugly work was resumed. The friends of a few minutes ago suddenly again became man hunters. Men from the western wilds and Kentucky mountains mingling with comrades from the denser populated districts, scattered among the ditches and gopher holes, and with the eagerness of hungry panthers watched for a victim wherever a gun-barrel glistened or an object moved above the hostile works.

Recurring to these seige [sic] operations, the order of minor events are jumbled in the memory. Sometimes, for amusement, the boys held their caps up on ramrods or sticks to have holes shot through them. If the rebels didn't fire at them the boys often got careless and poked up their heads to take a look. Eli Stewart, of Co. B, in doing this had a bullet put through him. In three weeks he was around again and in a short time was as sound as ever.

Lowery, of Co. I, while getting water at an exposed spring back of the lines, received a rifle ball in the pelvic region. The surgeons with difficulty extracted the ball. This man, at Chickasaw, was saved from death by a memorandum book in his blouse pocket. A bullet struck it with sufficient force to crush almost through it.

Sergeant James McBride, of Co. H, got struck on the head. Though stunned and bleeding his wound was not serious. When the stretcher bearers were taking him to the rear, he recovered consciousness, leaped from the stretcher and made his way to the surgeon without assistance.

John McCluggage, of Co. E, while raising his rifle to take aim, had a bullet strike the gun stock near the rear band, forcing its way through between the ramrod and barrel and making a painful flesh wound in the left hand.

A Co. A man, lying in bivouac back of the trenches was wounded in the foot by a descending bullet from the rebel lines.

Our artillerymen were obliged, on account of the nearness of the position, to cut their fuses short. Through lack of care or otherwise, some shell exploded close to our infantry. In a few cases men were wounded by them. One man severely by the leaden band of a conical case shot.

The rebel gunners, once in a while, seemed to get very gritty, and a field piece would be poked through an embrasure and worked rapidly for a short time. These little spurts of pluck was always the signal for a concentration of fire that never failed to drive the gun back out of sight.

The rebels tried their skill in what might be called mortar practice, and if they had known how it annoyed our boys they surely would have done more of it. They would elevate a gun back of their lines and with a light charge pitch a shell over our heads into the ravines where the men off duty were generally taking a rest. When these shell exploded high in air it was impossible to dodge the pieces. A 16th boy lying on a rubber blanket jumped up in alarm and the next instant a piece of shell struck where his body had been. The derisive utterance bold as a sheep was a common remark among the soldiers if they doubted the prowess of any one, but one day, during the seige [sic], there occurred something that placed the sheep in a more honorable light than it had heretofore had the credit of. A small flock of sheep got between the lines to the left of us, and cantered down to the right, between us and the enemy. Heralded by cheers and shots as they progressed, they passed over the ridges and out of sight without losing any of their number.

An officer belonging to some staff, picked his way up to our front line leading his horse. While talking to the soldiers the horse took fright, broke away from him, and galloped into the enemy's line.

A regiment that came up on our left rear to extend the line of investment, created an excitement in our brigade on the evening of their arrival, by snapping caps. We could not at first make out where the noise emanated from or what it meant.

The siege was pushed with vigor, caution and skill. Every morning found progress made. Our working parties had either got closer to the enemy or strengthened the old works. Head-logs were put up--notched on the under side. Through these loop-holes the boys pointed their rifles and waited for a shot. To further screen our riflemen, brush was placed over the logs. In spite of all these ingenious devises for protection, the lynx-eyed rebel sharp-shooters continued to pick off our men. When a man was shot, his gun was seldom carried back with him. These pieces were often loaded heavily and mounted on the works by some fun-loving fellows and pulled off with a string. The gun never failed to turn a back somersault or spring back lively and sometimes exploded. Occasional visitors, generally officers from military organizations in the rear, wanted a rifle to try a shot. It so chanced that a heavily loaded rifle was lying handy one day when a fellow came up and wanted to try his hand. Some wag lent him the doctored piece and quietly slid out. The gun was poked under the head-log and the spectators interested awaited developments. When the discharge, that rivaled that of a ten pounder rang out, and the fellow stepped back with an expression that partook of fright, there was more than one sunburnt face broke into a grin.

In the darkness of night the firing resembled a pyrotechnic display. The musketry had the sharp flash and snap of fire crackers, while the field guns might have been compared to huge roman candles, and the mortars sent their hissing fuses far up in the ether, where the big iron globes exploded with a flash like a sky-rocket that for a moment illuminated the landscape below. Failing to explode they descended and buried themselves in the earth with a thud.

June 2nd we received some luxuries from home consisting mainly of canned stuff and dried fruit which was gladly accepted and relished.

Reports were reaching us from the rear and it was a matter of daily talk that Gen. Joe Johnston, with a large force, was going to make an attempt to break up the seige [sic]and extricate Pemberton's army. Many deserters came out from the garrison at night and their reports were always favorable to us. Rations were scant and many men were getting worn out and sick from the exposure, perpetual vigilance, and lack of sleep.

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