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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 59 - July, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
April 6, 1882


Tuttle's men were moving up on our left and attracting considerable fire. On our right A. J. Smith was getting his regiments in position and feeling his way to the front to his right, where there was a gap. Beyond this was Lauman, with a small division, principally made up of Illinois and Iowa troops. In the long line of works that covered the capital were three strong divisions of Confederates, commanded respectively, from right to left, by French, Loring and Breckinridge. Johnson's veteran force was largely augmented by the accession of state militia. These latter soldiers, though indifferently armed and imperfectly disciplined, were effective in the defense of breastworks. The gap between Smith and Lauman was partially watched by a small detail from the 16th. Their special instructions were to observe the road that run from Raymond to the city and report matters to the commanding officer of the regiment. On the left was a wood where some of A.J. Smith's men were massing. To the right was a belt of open country. On the right front was a comfortable looking mansion with the customary negro quarters. Beyond this was another wood where the Confederate skirmish line was entrenched.

The pickets not finding the enemy in sight concluded to go up to the house and inspect the locality. They found the place deserted. Doors stood ajar and but little in the rooms and out buildings was disturbed. The people had left recently and in haste. A solitary cat sat in a doorway gazing complacently at the newcomers. Some men of an Indiana regiment joined the 16th boys and foraging commenced in earnest. Cozy rooms, whose walls and floors were covered with costly fixtures and carpets, and the sacred sanctuary of the bed room, where snowy spreads and downy pillows invited the weary to rest, were profaned (?) by the treat of the hated Yank hunting for a woolen blanket, clean shirt or something to eat. One fellow, taking several canteens, with the aid of a short ladder, went down into a cistern for water.

Love don't always run smooth, neither does foraging. Whack, whack, came the bullets from the woods. The dry plastering flies from the walls. A Federal staff officer who has approached the house discovers the situation and hastens up to warn the boys. At the entrance of the yard his horse is killed. Leaving the animal, he darts up the graveled walk towards the house, shouting at the boys to get back or they would be captured. The order was superfluous as they had already concluded to go and were skipping away lively. They had barely left the premises when about two hundred rebels, screeching and yelling like Comanche Indians, suddenly appeared on the scene. The man in the cistern was gobbled; the balance of the boys fled to the post and from behind trees and logs engaged the enemy in an unequal skirmish for a while--until more of our troops came up and drove the rebels to their lines.

About midday we heard heavy musketry and artillery firing over on the right. We could see men, partly obscured by dust, running back over a bald elevation in the distance. A report soon reached us that one of Lauman's brigades had run into an ambuscade of Breckinridge's division, losing over six hundred men--about two hundred of whom were killed. The Confederate troops that delivered the fatal fire were the 1st, 3rd and 4th Florida and 47th Georgia Infantry regiments and Cobb's and Slocomb's batteries of light artillery. Lauman's men had no knowledge of their presence until they received their fire. The color bearers of the 28th, 41st, 47th and 43rd Illinois were shot down and the colors of all except the 41st were captured.

By the urgent request of Gen. Ord, Gen. Lauman was removed, although it seems Sherman did it reluctantly. Lauman never afterward was restored to a command. He died since the war in Iowa.

Joe Johnson, in his Narrative, erroneously characterises this affair as an attack by our troops.

Our brigade was shifted to the right a little and advanced in line of battle. Coming up in full view of Johnson's works, thousands of Confederate soldiers were plainly seen beyond the parapets. Heavy ordnance and small arms flashed their warning at us as we moved on over the undulating surface.

Thundered the batteries double bass,
Difficult music for men to face.
Shattered fences here and there,
Tossed their splinters in the air.

As the different regiments reached good positions, they were halted and began to fortify. The 16th extended across a recently cleared space. Brush-heaps, stumps and logs furnished cover for our skirmishers. The right of the skirmish line rested in the rear of a house whose occupants had stampeded. A new cement cistern, of the common bottle shape, several steps to one side, was almost filled with wearing apparel and bed clothing. There was no water in the cistern and the thought of placing these goods there was in some respects a wise one. The house might catch fire from an exploding shell and go up. At best it would be ransacked by the soldiers and they wouldn't think of looking for plunder in a cistern. Oh, no! While some of the skirmishers were dodging about here, a large shell from a rebel siege gun tore through the house and exploded with a deafening report. If the fuse was timed for the building it came near being accurate. The boy had captured some chickens, that in the temporary confusion foundered out into an exposed place, and it was fun, though of a grave character, to see the fellows crawling out under fire and recovering their poultry.

When night came the skirmish line of the regiment was advanced about a hundred yards farther. Boxes and barrels were filled with earth and set [text missing] Gopher holes were also dug. These and the natural obstacles, such as stumps and logs, were good cover, as long as a fellow didn't stick his head up too high or attract the fire of the neighboring Confederate cannon.

The city was within gunshot of our lines and the capitol building loomed up prominently. The custom of calling small towns cities was prevalent in the southern States. At the outbreak of the war Jackson had a population not exceeding five thousand, white and colored, yet it had long been called a city. In her legislative halls, long-haired representatives had for years expectorated tobacco juice over the floors, resting their feet, head high, on the chair backs, talked of honah and drew their salaries. The early days of '61 found these educated, man-owning ruffians exhorting the youth of Mississippi to array themselves under the stars and bars of the would-be Confederacy and march to distant States and unite with the mustering armies of insurrectionists, spurning the thought that in two years the Federal army would be marching triumphantly over the fairest part of their own State and kneading its soil with human flesh.

July 11th, a.m., a flag of truce appeared and hostilities ceased for a short time. On our part of the line we had no opportunity to converse with the enemy but we looked at each other wishfully over the space of a few hundred yards. Some canteens and guns were picked up just beyond our line. Where were the ones that once carried them? Possibly suffering in hospital, or peacefully sleeping beneath the sod.

In a yam-patch in front of the 16th, stood a stubby oak with a ladder standing against the opposite side. This was a good perch for a sharp-shooter before our lines advanced the day before.

On the 12th the firing increased as the morning hours advanced, reaching at one time the magnitude of a battle. While the skirmishers of the 16th were being relieved, the exposure of the men drew a severe fire of cannon and musketry over toward us and made us hunt our holes suddenly. Levi Feeman, of Co. H, had his left arm almost torn off by a fragment of shell. He bore the hurt manfully but died within a few hours. Capt. Hamilton Richeson got a rifle shot in the shoulder and was carried to the rear. Capt. E.W. Botsford was struck on the wrist but stayed at his post of duty. Several more got thumps and scratches though not sufficiently serious to take them from the field. We were glad when the fierceness of the fire subsided and we could take a long breath with safety.

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