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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 76 - July - August, 1864

Camp and Field

Published in Holmes County Republican
August 3, 1882


Between us and the river was encamped the 26th New York battery. Although they were expert thieves and particularly skilled in secreting stolen goods they were under good discipline and were good peaceable neighbors. The greater part of the company were foreigners. A few belonged to the Garibaldi Zouaves in the early part of the war.

A fourth of a mile south of us were two cavalry regiments recruited from the Rio Grande country in Texas. A more expert lot of riders never vaulted into the saddle for Uncle Sam. In their ordinary exercises they displayed feats of horsemanship that would be admired in a circus. Those men were a curious looking set to our boys. When they were enlisted they had cavalry uniforms issued to them and equipments the same as other troops in that branch of the service, but to go to their camp at any time it was a rare sight to see one in complete uniform. They stuck to their broad-brimmed Mexican hats and picturesque pantaloons that were buttoned at the sides and were generally made of buckskin colored black. In warm weather they had an antipathy to shirts, many of them going round clad in nothing but sombrero and pants, and I might add the ever-present knife or revolver. Two-thirds of these regiments were as dark skinned as the negro. The only distinguishing mark being the straight, course, [sic] black hair and staid expression. Many of them were good gamblers. They found many white comrades willing to try their hand with them for a dollar ante. Silver Mexican dollars, brought along from their distant homes by the greasers, were put up against greenbacks, always one silver dollar for two of paper. When money ran out these dark-skinned descendants of the Dons became unscrupulous and were known to stake their dragoon revolvers, willingly giving them up if they lost. For quick movements and sudden dashes they were unexcelled. In the saddle and on a wild gallop they were in their glory. When their horses were on the dead run they could drop the reins and handle the carbine as deliberately as if on foot. They hated and feared the bushwhackers that fired from concealment in the forest by the roadside. A big coffee-colored fellow, that often made friendly visits to our camp, one day showed us a long ragged cut through the wadded part of his cavalry jacket, just below his left breast, that was made by a bullet fired by an unseen enemy from the bushes a few hours before. It was interesting and amusing to see this man relating his adventure in a few words of bad English, and partly in his own language, embellished with many jestures [sic] to make it plain. As near as it can be given it was about as follows: Ca-bi-o foo-fush, Bronco, Chapparel, pop-hist. G-d-d-m Confederate, which translated meant that his horse (cabio) had scented danger and snuffed (foo-fush) but he thought it was only cattle (bronco) in the bushes (chapparel) til the crack (pop) of a gun and whistle of a bullet told him different. It may not seem consistent but it is a fact that they hated the negroes and often, when negro soldiers were passing, it was common to hear the remark d-n Nagara vamouse. The writer recollects very well once while down at the boat landing, where a gang of these greasers were un-loading forage, of hearing the utterance Americana vamouse. The white boys understood it but did not heed it.

July 9th a competitive drill was had between Captain Benhan's company, of the 42d Ohio, and Co. C of the 16th. The writer is unable to tell who was declared by the judges to be the best in the contest.

On the 20th, in the afternoon, the

rebels in unknown force were discovered near our lines in the forest. At dust [sic - dusk] the picket lines were reinforced and the soldiers in camp were ordered to be ready to march at a moment's warning. A cavalryman was captured after dark about a hundred yards in advance of the supports. It was done so skillfully and quietly that our men did not discover it until it was too late to attempt a rescue. Infantry were thrown forward and lay on their arms until daylight without encountering anything further of an exciting character, though something of an amusing nature took place during the night. A cavalry officer, while picking his way through the brush, lost the card from his hat and, probably regarding it as a serious matter, he informed some of the men of his loss and asked their co-operation in the search.

The 1st brigade of our division that had gone to White river, Arkansas, did not return to us again. Our old comrades, the 42d, belonged to that since recent change in the organization. The other regiments of that brigade were the 23d Iowa, 7th Kentucky, 35th Wisconsin and 37th Illinois.

Before the 25th the troops at the bend were concentrated around a big fort that was built by contrabands and penal labor. The lineal measurement of the embankment that composed the work was 320 feet. It had ditches, bomb-proofs and magazines complete so that a small force could hold it if necessary. It was garrisoned by negro troops. These black fellows were seldom taken out on any of the numerous expeditions through the country, nevertheless their soldiering was a hard lot and many got sick. The rate of mortality among them exceeded that of the white troops. These negro soldiers were big eaters and their rations seemed insufficient. Almost daily some of them could be seen going round among the white soldiers asking for scraps of victuals. Dirty particles were often picked out of the sesspools [sic]. The white soldiers receiving the same allowance seemed to have plenty, though not always in good condition. Flour and cornmeal lying in the Quartermaster's tents in the humid climate often got mouldy, and the hard tack got full of little black bugs. The little red ant also intruded itself into our food besides getting into everything else we had. The boys were a little ingenious oftentimes in devising means to keep them out of things. One contrivance was to nail four legs to the boxes where the tent was usually kept in the tent, setting the ends in tin cans filled with water. The little red ant is a greater nuisance than the black ones, being very disagreeable to the taste when mixed with the food, as is inevitably the case where they are so numerous as we often found them, while the black ones would not be detected while chewing them if their little wiery [sic] legs didn't tickle the tongue.

The colored regiments were all officered by white men, who were duly examined before a competent board of officers before commissions were issued. The board of examiners here at the bend was composed of Lieut.-Col Philip Kershner and Surgeon B.B. Brashear, of the 16th Ohio, and Major Victor Vifquain, of the 97th Illinois.

August 6th found the 19th corps commanded by Gen. J.J. Reynolds, and our division, the 3rd, by Gen. M.K. Lawler. This division was composed of three brigades made up of the regiments as follows: The first as already given had gone up the river; the second--69th and 24th Indiana, 16th and 114th Ohio, and 97th Illinois; the 3d-83d and 96th Ohio, 77th and 130th Illinois, 67th Indiana, 34th Iowa and 3d Maryland cavalry.

On the night of August 24th, some troops boarded steamers and dropped quietly down to bayou Sara, on the Mississippi side. On the evening of the 25th they returned with some prisoners who were captured from a force that was surprised near the river.

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