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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 62 - July-August-September, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
April 27, 1882


About this time two officers of the 16th were dismissed from the service. Assistant surgeon Isaac N. Ellsbery Aug. 8th, and 1st Lieutenant Manual B. DeSilva July 22d. The latter, at the close of the campaign, was summoned to Chicago. The morning after his arrival he read a notice of his dismissal in a daily paper. Previous to this he did not know of any charges against him, nor had he warning of any pending trouble. What the cause was that led to the dishonorable ending of DeSilva's service with the 16th, the writer never accurately knew. If under the sharp scrutiny of a military tribunal dismissal was justifiable, there is still something we can cheerfully say on behalf of DeSilva. He was brave and patriotic, and his efficiency as an officer was never questioned by his brother officers. To be pitched out so unceremoniously after passing through a perilous campaign was extremely vexatious and mortifying to such an impulsive and spirited man as DeSilva, and is it surprising if he went forth from Chicago breathing curses at the causes that brought up on him what he considered undeserved disgrace. His career afterward was thrilling and eventful. At Hannibal, Missouri, he was arrested on suspicion of being a rebel spy, and it required the strenuous vigilance of a strong military guard to prevent the militia from lynching him while he was procuring the affidavits of well known public men in Ohio to prove his loyalty. When released he entered the military service in Missouri and served as A.A. Adj. Gen., on Gen. Heyward's staff. DeSilva died at Millersburg, O., in November, 1880, and was buried in the cemetery there by the site of some of his comrades.

The period of service of the drafted men, who had joined us at Portland, O., closed in August, and what was left of them were discharged. The nine months of hard service had told sadly on them. An unusual per cent. were dead, and many had become unfit for further service and were discharged already. Only a little remnant--a mere corporal's guard was left of the one hundred that joined us, in good health, nine months before. A day or two before their departure for home, while bathing in the river, one of them got into deep water and being unable to swim was drowned.

Port Hudson had surrendered to Banks while we were out at Jackson. At Natchez a garrison was placed and good works thrown up in the heights. The big Union army of Mississippi was rapidly reduced in number by detachments sent north and south, many of them going to New Orleans.

An expedition had been sent up the Yazoo to break up the rebel post at Yazoo City. One of our gunboats fared badly in a close, hot action with one of their water batteries, but our Infantry landed and stormed the place, capturing the artillery and many prisoners. Col. Vance, of the 29th North Carolina, was in command of the rebel force.

For a distance of a fourth of a mile along the river front at Vicksburg, steamboats, barges and other river crafts were thickly moored. Some were being loaded with munitions of war for stations along the river. Piles of bombshells that somehow resembled pumpkins, and large, conical bolts for the rifled ordnance, and big black cannon that required engineering skill to move, lined the river landing. While a detail of negroes were carrying a lot of fixed ammunition aboard of one of the boats, a percussion shell was accidentally dropped, cap end down, causing an explosion that killed thirty men and ruined two steamboats.

Shortly after entering Mississippi in May, a recruit--a man beyond middle age--disappeared from the regiment. There were various conjectures among the men about his whereabouts. At last when the wild work was done and we stood on the bank of the river again, the old fellow made his appearance, dirty and brown, with a shabby straw hat on his head, and gun and accoutrements gone. He looked more like a river roustabout than a soldier. He had very little to say of his absence--only that he couldn't find the regiment.

The paymaster visited the brigade again on August 1st.

Changes were made in the reorganization of the 13th corps. The 1st and 9th divisions were consolidated and General Washburn placed in command.

On the morning of Aug. 15th the brigade, to which the 16th belonged, embarked on Elliot's marine fleet, the 16th going aboard of the Diana. Moving down the great river past the strong fortified positions of Natchez, Port Hudson and Baton Rouge, we could readily realize the strong hold that the U.S. was getting along its shores.

On the night of the 15th we reached Carrolton, a short distance above New Orleans and four hundred miles below Vicksburg. Disembarking the next morning we moved out on the famous shell road and pitched camp about a half mile from the village. The usual difficulties of keeping the men under proper restraint in the vicinity of large cities, was experienced by the officers here. Company commanders were pestered for passes to the city and some that failed to get them went anyhow. We drilled every day and were fully employed from morning till night.

On the 22d we were reviewed by Maj.-Gen. N.P. Banks, commander of that department. Again, on the 29th, Gen. Daniel E. Sickles reviewed us. This noble soldier had lost a leg at Gettysburg a little over two months before. At present he was doing the duties of Inspector General. His figure was wasted and his face looked pale but the fire of his eye was undimmed. A mounted orderly carried the General's crutches during the review. Thousands of spectators from the city came up to witness the military pageant. Gen. Grant came down the river to look after his boys, so on Sept. 4th we had another review. The boys began to think that reviews were a prominent part of the soldier's duty in the Gulf department, and was a very essential part in crushing the rebellion. The conveniences for such ceremonies were good here. Plenty of level land and no hills to climb. We had cheered Banks and Sickles on the former reviews, but when Grant rode out to take a look at his familiar regiments, the cheers that greeted him were simply deafening. Particularly from the western troops.

A small card called a Picayune, that was valued at five cents, was current here. On one side was a miniature map of the Crescent City. Merchants and tradesmen, railroads and ferryboats, every department of business, received them and paid them out.

The sudden and unexpected surrender of the city to Farragut and Butler, forced the Confederate money out of circulation and opened the way for U.S. currency. Federal soldiers always managed to get hold of the Confederate scrip, or the facsimile, in all parts of the South. Here they found Jews who were willing to buy it, ostensibly for speculation. Of the 170,000 people of New Orleans, after its capture, thousands believed that success would yet crown the cause of the South. When Gen. Mansfield Levell, with his rebel soldiers marched out, April 24th, 1862, a portion of the exasperated populace proposed to burn the city, and only the prompt action of the moderate, stayed their purpose though the cotton and steamboats along the levee, and the ship yards of Algiers were given to the torch. Under Butler's administration many took the oath of allegiance, and many spurned it, preferring banishment instead. Angry eyed women spit at soldiers and insulted them on the streets. This order of things, however, had ceased before we came here. Individual resentment had done its work, aided by Butler's famous order over which the secession newspapers ransacked the vocabulary of mean expressions to coin an epithet to attach as a mark of infamy to the author's name. When they had boiled down their literary tart, and extracted the essence, they resolved with venomous intensity on the odorous word, Beast.

The sanitary regulations established by Gen. Butler were yet strictly kept up. The filth of the streets was daily swept and scraped together and carted beyond the city limits. Any exposed filth that could possibly breed disease was removed or destroyed.

We had soldiered in the back country so long, that the big city with hits miles of well paved streets, its mongrel population and babel of languages, was a luxury to us.

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