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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 63 - September-October-November, 1863

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
May 4, 1882


September 6th, two days after the last review, our brigade took boats and crossed to Algiers. Those that were not strictly fit for active service were left back at Carrolton, in a convalescent camp. In the evening we left Algiers in cars and run to Bayou Beaux, eighty miles.

During the sieges of Port Hudson and Vicksburg, the few small Federal garrisons in western Louisiana had been over-powered and captured by Dick Taylor's army. The present expedition was to recover the lost ground and drive the enemy out.

Sept. 11th we marched to Brashear City, twelve miles, and camped on the shore of Berwick Bay. We remained here two weeks. During that time the 3d and 4th brigades were consolidated and the command given to Brigadier Gen. M. K. Lawler. On the afternoon of the 25th, division was ferried over the bay and marched about two miles to the mouth of Bayou Teche, remaining there until Oct. 3th [sic]. We suffered much inconvenience from frequent rains and a dreadful muddy camp. As a sort of an amelioration to the discomforts of the men, the Quartermaster issued small doses of whiskey.

At 6 o'clock a.m. of the 3d we broke camp and marched up the Teche fifteen miles to Camp Brisland. On the 4th we marched ten miles further, to the pleasant little town of Franklin, on the banks of the Teche. One of the lively occurrences at this place was the cleaning out of a three acre lot of sweet potatoes in an incredibly short space of time. Handy to camp was an orange orchard that the boys regarded with covetous eyes, and--well if they didn't get any of them it was because they didn't go after them. We took the road again on the 5th and made fourteen miles, marching through a region of surpassing loveliness. The 6th we went ten miles further and lay quiet two days. On the 9th we got an early start and marched nineteen miles, passing through Iberia and St. Martinsville. On the 10th we passed the 19th army corps and went into camp at one o'clock p.m., making ten miles. Forage was plenty and the boys took in large quantities, such as chickens, sweet potatoes, &c. We luxuriated here in abundance and comfort until the 23d. During this time, on the 13th, the Ohio regiments held election for State officers. We marched fifteen miles further to Carrion Crow Bayou, on the 23d, getting well soaked by a heavy rain that lasted nearly all day.

At 6 a.m. the next day we were padding the hoof again. Twelve miles more brought us to Opeleusa. On the way we passed a human skeleton hung up to a tree. It was a good specimen, every bone present and secured in its place. A large army cracker was struck [sic] between its grinning jaws. The soldiers foraged liberally around through the country, and a few were so unfortunate as to be captured by the enemy. None of the gobbled men belonged to the 16th.

Having accomplished our object in this direction, we began the return march on Oct 27th. On the 29th Lieut. Col. Kershner joined the regiment after an absence of ten months, having been captured at Chickasaw Bayou the previous December.

At 3 o'clock on the morning of Nov. 4th, the 16th received orders to go to Iberia on Provost duty. The 120th O.V.I. was camped close to us and by some means not entirely satisfactory to all parties, but quite natural to soldiers in war time, many of their cooking utensils found their way into our camp. It was humorously reported that Quartermaster Dean, of the 120th, followed the 16th all the way to Iberia to get his kettles and dishes before he could get breakfast.

News reached us here of a severe fight that Gen. Burbridge's brigade had up at Carrion Crow Bayou. A large force of rebels made a sudden dash on our camp there and for a while our men were handled pretty rough. After reinforcements came the rebels were driven away.

On the 8th our division began to move early, though the 16th did not get started until midday. Transportation for baggage being scarce, we confiscated some empty wagons that chanced to be passing. We were on the move until midnight, making eighteen miles. The next day about 10 a.m. we reached Franklin, boarded a steamer, dropped down to Berwick and landed about dark. On the 13th we crossed the bay to Brashear City, where we encamped until the 22d, when we went by rail to Algiers.

The portions of Louisiana through which our marches extended, possessed much of that which is of natural and historic interest. Between Brashear City and Iberia is a mountain of salt one hundred and eighty-five feet high and covering over three hundred acres of land. Its existence is a geological mystery. For many miles in either direction there are no elevations or ridges. It seems as if a bit of New England landscape had dropped down in this level alluvial country.

Here, on the banks of the Teche and on the Oopelusas prairies, we yet found many descendants of the French Acadians that fled from Nova Scotia, generations ago, to escape the tyranny of the British King. They educated their children and speak the French language with more purity than it is generally spoken in New Orleans. In religion they are strictly Catholic. Their love for the land of their ancestors is strong and it was not an uncommon thing to see French flags displayed. One day, while the 11th Iowa Infantry was on Provost duty at St. Martins, a lot of French flags were stuck up on fences and other places. Lieut. Col. Whittlesey, of that regiment, went around with his sword and wherever he found a flag he cut it down. The leading Catholic dignitary of the village was very much offended at it, and went so far as to call on the General in command of the troops present, and protest. These people are not cosmopolitan, though they were in sympathy with the disunionists and many of the able-bodied young men found their way into the Confederate ranks. In time of peace they are peaceable, frugal and industrious.

The civilized world revolts at the idea of white men owning black slaves. In southern Louisiana there existed a peculiar and exceptional feature of human slavery in the United States, which recalled a state of things in existence in portions of Africa. Black men (negroes) owned plantations and black slaves and were said to be the cruelest of masters, and when the war came, the most rabid secessionists. This State possessed the most degraded specimens of negro, and some highly refined and educated ones. The private secretary of Napoleon III was a full blooded black; was born in Louisiana and educated in St. Domingo.

Web Author's Note: At this point, Wolbach digresses to telling the story of the 16th Ohio troops, about 30 of them, who were furloughed shortly after the fall of Vicksburg. This description covers late July, 1863, through the time the furloughed troops rejoin the regiment in mid-September, 1863, and continues throughout all of the next chapter (#64) with the current story resuming in chapter #65.

At Vicksburg, on July 28th, Gen Grant issued what was known at the time as General Order No. 45, which provided for the furloughing of five per cent. of the able-bodied men of his army, for thirty days, furloughs to be dated after arriving at Cairo, Ill. Almost a thousand of these fellows, representing many of the white regiments in the Mississippi army, took passage on the steamer Hope, over thirty of the 16th being among them. Our Quartermaster issued a liberal supply of whiskey to the boys, which of course was to be an antidote (?) for the malaria of the river. In Grant's order the steamboat fare of soldiers was regulated. The officers of the Hope disregarded this and charged to suit themselves, which was much above the figures specified but before leaving Vicksburg they were compelled to refund the amount over charged, leaving the rates for common soldiers $5.00, and commissioned officers, $7.00 to Cairo.

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