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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 70 - April, 1864

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
June 22, 1882


About this time trouble arose among the negro troops on the island, about the amount per month that they were to receive. It seems that the U.S. Government made a big distinction between them and the white troops, and gave them far less wages. The contraband regiments, made up of liberated slaves and organized in the south, probably would make no complaints, but there was a free State regiment, the 14th Rhode Island. They expected to be placed on an equal footing with their white comrades, and refused to sign the pay-rolls for less than the prescribed pay for volunteers. They had the strong side of the case and might have carried their point by a moderate course, but they got turbulent and as they garrisoned the fort which was near their camp, the situation began to look a little grave and needed looking after promptly. The 14th had white officers, who were resolute and cool, and acted under the promptings of good judgment, but finding the colored boys disinclined to quite down as the evening advanced assistance was called. An order came quietly to the 16th about 11 o'clock at night to turn out, in light marching order, as quickly as possible and with the least necessary noise. Orders were given to load the rifles and away we started. We had not heard of the trouble yet, therefore did not know where we were bound for. Nearing the negro camp we noticed it was lighted up, and an unusual commotion there for that time of night. Part of our regiment marched straight for the draw bridge of the fort. The guard inside the big gate halted us, and refused to obey the order to open and admit us. So several soldiers scrambled up the glacis, crossed the parapet, and disarmed the guard. This was repeated with the balance of the guards after we marched in, the colored fellows being put into the bomb-proofs and held as prisoners. The camp outside was surrounded by other white troops, who made the 14th Rhode Island turn out without arms and march down the island to a bare spot, near the beach, where they were kept under guard several days until the ringleaders of the mutiny could be arrested and the trouble properly adjusted.

Two small schooners that had been to our lines under a flag of truce, were captured the next day by the Monongahela while reconnoitering up the bay. They had two rebel officers and some other men aboard.

In the early part of April Col. Kershner went to New Orleans to see about procuring us new guns. In his absence the regiment was commanded by Capt. VanDoorn. About this time a company prize drill was held on the island, one company from each regiment participating. Companies C and G united as one, representing the 16th.

One night we were awakened by artillery shots fired in rapid succession. We sprang from our tents to learn the cause. Presently a light appeared across the pass, at the little narrow inlet between Pelican Island and Decrow's Point, abut three miles from our camp. It was a burning schooner, and we could plainly see men leaving it, reach the mainland and run. The craft was a blockade runner that, taking the advantage of a dark night, was trying to slip out to sea, but being discovered and fired at by the Monongahela, was run ashore and set on fire by her crew.

Preparations were being made on the island for permanent occupation. Frame buildings were erected for hospital purposes and for quartermaster's stores. The large ships had their cargoes transferred to land by means of small boats. From there government teams hauled the supplies to the new buildings, where they were stowed away under the direction of an officer. This work was done by fatigue parties from the different regiments on the island. A large detail that was sent down from the 16th, one day made such a lively record that they were reported to our regimental commander, who reprimandeds [sic] one of the men. The working party was getting along all right, and their job was almost finished, when a liberal supply of commissary whiskey and sugar diluted with water was dealt out. The majority of

the boys touched the stuff lightly, but Sam Dougherty, of Co. I, filled chuck up to the ears and at once was on the war path. About then the Q.M., an energetic New Englander, came out of his office near by and ordered Mal Anderson, one of the working squad, down from a pile of barrels. Dougherty, without solicitation, took it up and went for the Q.M. in rough style. Fearful threats and the flourishing of a big revolver didn't intimidate Sam very much, so the officer retired to report the matter and left Sam to cave around over a barren field until another victim came around in the person of an innocent looking negro soldier, whom Dougherty tackled and tried to bring down with his pile drivers, but only got sore knuckles for the effort, and was willing to quit when the boys interfered. The darkey picked up his cap and walking away remarked, Ise 'gwine to tell de officer about dis.

There were two light-houses in sight of camp. On a wooden structure about fifty feet high, just across the bayou, on the north side of the island; the other of wrought-iron stood near the beach on the south side. Its height was about one hundred feet. Before evacuating, the rebels had partially destroyed it.

On the 17th of April the steamship Crescent, from New Orleans, arrived, bringing the unpleasant news of Gen. Banks' defeat in the Red river country of northern Louisiana. With the ship came orders for us to march. In the evening, ten days' rations were issued to us, and our orders were to be ready to move at an hour's notice. Troops began to embark the next morning, the 16th striking tents and breaking camp early. While waiting near the beach, down at the fort, some negro soldiers in excitement and anxiety rushed around among the boys, inquiring for the soldier that fixed watches. The fellow they wanted was Al. Brauneck, of Co. H, who, while in camp done a fair business repairing watches for the black soldiers. Our sudden orders found him with a lot of time-pieces on hand ready for delivery, and not knowing where to find the owners, very naturally carried their property along. The blacks--perhaps all--found Brauneck and recovered their property before we embarked.

Our regiment went aboard of two propellers--the right wing on the Exact, left wing on the Alliance. The Exact run through to New Orleans without incident. The Alliance was not so lucky. When well on her course, she was chased, fired at and brought to by a strange craft that proved to be the U.S. man-of-war Tennessee. Each was mistaken in the other. The latter was thought to be the privateer Alabama, and the former was supposed to be a blockade runner. Just outside of the Delta, the Alliance run on a sand-bar and stayed fast until she was rocked off. The rocking being produced by a large number of men running from one side of the boat to the other.

Arriving at New Orleans on the 21st, we were quartered in a cotton yard, or press as they are commonly called. Here we drew new guns, same caliber of old, but longer barrels. We didn't think the long barrels an improvement. The gateways to our quarters were soon thronged with street peddlers, noisely [sic] offering their stock of oranges and other fruits. As usual, on coming to a city, some fellows broke guard, hunted up liquor and got drunk. One of these willing victims, Paul Girard, managed to get back to the cotton press about midnight. Too much overcome by the narcotic to hunt up his bunk-mate, he lay down near one of the entrances and went to sleep. Corporal Joseph Rodgers, with a comrade, being on duty, discovered the remains, and after a short consultation decided to decently dispose of them. An empty gun box was hauled to one side and the limber Frenchman carefully laid into it. The box being too short, his knees were raised too high to allow the lid to be placed on, so another box was turned bottom upwards over him. Heavy timbers came braced against this. Morning came, and the reveillie [sic] woke Paul in his close quarters. A few minutes of kicking and pushing made a hole and the imprisoned man crawled out in the presence of an amused crowd, who seemed to understand the situation. But Paul's wit didn't forsake him when he made his own explanation as follows: They put me in a coffin; they thought I was dead; but I knew very well I was not dead.

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