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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 65 - November, 1863

Camp and Field

Web Author's Note: Wolbach began telling the story of troops who were furloughed shortly after the fall of Vicksburg in chapter #63, and continued throughout all of chapter #64 and part of this chapter (#65). This description covers late July, 1863, through the time the furloughed troops rejoined the regiment in mid-September, 1863. He then returns to the current story, starting in the last paragraph, below, in this column.

Published in Holmes County Republican
May 18, 1882


Punctual to the restricted time of the furloughs, the boys began to tear away from the pic-nics and the social pleasures of loved ones, and, early in September, started for the regiment over a thousand miles away. At Cairo a good sized squad gathered while waiting for a boat. The troops doing duty here at that time, were a part of what was called the grey-beard regiment of Iowa. They were all elderly men--too old for field service but made good guards and performed garrison duty admirably. One old grey-beard humorously remarked that if they could not march and perform the rough service of campaigning, they had one advantage over the younger soldier, if they got into a battle they would have to fight it out as they were too old to run.

All soldiers on their way to their regiments were furnished food and lodging at the Soldiers' Home here, while they had to wait. The first boat that started south took the accumulated crowd bound in that direction. Below Columbus, Ky., and near Island No. 10 was a bar, where the river, at the then low stage, was very shallow for heavily laden boats. At this place the men and animals were disembarked and walked about three miles across the neck of a peninsula, where they met the steamer again. At Prior's Point, five miles below Helena, Arkansas, the boat run aground, and it required many hours hard work before she got afloat again. Reaching Vicksburg the men waited about a week and took passage on the Atlantic, whose wood-work had been recently riddled with bullets while passing near the west shore at Morganzies Bend. About the 10th of September they stepped ashore at New Orleans, and had to wait ten days before they could get transportation to the regiment. How the men put in their time here it would fill a volume to describe. Their regiments were nearly all gone to the Teche country in western Louisiana. Tents were issued and a camp established at Greenville Station, on the Lake Ponchertrain R.R., just north of and outside of the city limits, and near the village of Carrolton. The lake, ten miles distant, the vast city with its innumerable phases of humanity, the historic grounds below, and the miles of shipping along the river front, were visited. An orange orchard back of a stately residence, a furlong from camp, was also visited--after dark in the popular mode militaire. Newt. Gorsuch, of Co. B, and Corporal Congo, of Co. A, of the furloughed squad lead off. A strong picket fence, a provost guard, negro servants and a dog were barriers to be passed before the tempting yellow fruit could be reached. The first expedition was skillfully planned, and but for the bark of the canine would have been a brilliant success, instead of an ignominious stampede. The alarm found Gorsuch up in a tree casting the fruit to the boys below. As speedy retreat was the only assurance of safety, he made a leap, and came crashing down through the branches to the ground. Oranges were dropped and the men run for an opening in the fence where a picket had been removed. All got through easy except Congo, who, being a little stout, squeezed through with difficulty and just in time to escape the dog. After getting the good will of one of the negroes, a second attempt was entirely successful.

On the 25th [September] transportation was secured and the boys joined the regiment two days after at Brashear City, delivering the new flags received at Wooster. The next destination of the 16th and many other Federal troops was some point along the Texas coast. Besides the unrelaxed effort to over throw the Confederacy, attention was directed to the Mexican frontier

along the Rio Grande, where foreign French soldiers were cantoned to keep secure the authority of the foreign price [sic, i.e. prince] Maximillian, who, with the aid of Louis Napoleon, had usurped the throne of Mexico. A force of observation had already gone from New Orleans to Brownsville, on the Rio Grande, and there was army gossip of more being sent to the same place.

While laying at Algiers many men from the convalescent camp in the city joined their comrades. The sick soldiers of this department were about all concentrated at New Orleans. Huge cotton warehouses were fitted up for hospitals. Daily accessions were made to the number of the helpless inmates and daily the dead were carried out and carted away to be buried in the suburbs. Every attention and comfort that would be expected far from home in a strange land, was extended to the disease stricken boys. Loyal and tender-hearted ladies of the city passed through the wards every day and addressed cheering words to the sick. Unselfish and pious ministers of the gospel came and prayed by the bedside. A large sanitary store dispensed its luxuries. All of these, in addition to the regular and abundant provisions of the hospital department, was powerless to stay the unceasing stream of death.

In a hospital at the foot of Race street, were many of the 16th sick. Among them was a Company A boy, James McElroy, who was deranged after he had recovered his bodily health. His mad ravings made it necessary to hand-cuff him and secure him by a chain to a staple in the floor. After a time he recovered and returned to duty.

Women with garden-truck came to our bivouac and sold their products to the boys. Peddlers of sour oranges, three for a picayune, found few buyers. Two women, one white, and the other black, both elegantly dressed, came among us and distributed dainty little white cards on which was printed the number of a house on Tolouse street, where good rooms and accommodations could be had at reasonable rates. This item briefly hints to a business that, degraded as it was, was legalized and protected in this proud southern city. All along Phillipine, Dauphine, Canal, and other streets, scores of prostitutes beckoned to the passing soldiers. To recur in memory to this wretched state of things, stamps with increased emphasis the fact that woman in her purity is surpassingly lovely, but in her meanness she is more than debased.

Nov. 25th we went aboard the steamship St. Mary, swung out and started for the gulf. The air was cool, the bosom of the river smooth, and the view from the lofty hurricane deck interesting. The ship's crew was small in number, but were an active, industrious set of fellows. They busied themselves lashing the life-boats firmly to the davits and preparing the ship generally for the rolling sea beyond the Delta. When night came the colored lights were run up the foremast and the vessel kept steadily on. Forts Jackson and St. Phillip, facing each other from opposite sides of the stream, revealed themselves to us in the darkness by their array of small lights. These two formidable works and a ponderous fleet of iron rams and fire rafts formed a critical barrier to Farragut's wooden ships, at this point sixteen months before. However, when the old Admiral got ready he piped his men to their stations, passed the former and destroyed the latter, losing one ship, the Varuna, whose plucky crew worked their guns until they dipped water, and in the immortal vessel in a blaze of glory, went down. Two days after, the garrisons of the forts mutinied under their commander, Gen. Duncan, and the strongholds were surrendered to Gen. Butler, who with the land forces had not yet passed up.

Some time during the night we entered the Gulf of Mexico, which we discovered by the rolling motion of the ship. When day broke the wild rough sea was all around us and the boys began to get sea-sick. Frequently, down on the cabin deck, there would be a rush for the iron guard, at the ship's side, as some fellow ripened to throw up his hard-tack. On the hurricane deck the yawls and life boats received the liberated bile, and away down in the hold, poor fellows, reckless in this new and peculiar misery, retched over mess-pans and camp kettles.

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