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16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Where was the regiment on
March 11, 1862

On this day the 16th Ohio went on a scouting mission to Cumberland Gap, a distance of about 12 miles from their camp at Cumberland Ford. The troops set out at 4:00am and arrived at the Gap about 1:00 pm. Cpl. Theodore Wolbach, Company E, in his historical work Camp and Field, written 20 years later, recalls the day:

On the 11th of March we made a reconnoisance [sic] toward Cumberland Gap. We approached on the Kentucky road that entered the Gap from the north and when we came in sight of the enemy we noticed quite a stir in their fortifications. As our advance got within range of their artillery a white puff of smoke and the boom of a thirty pounder warned us to come no further. Several spherical shells were pitched at us but done no harm as they fell wide of the mark. After moving around and giving the Confederates a good look at us we returned to the Ford.

Pvt. William McCormick, Company G, provides his account of the mission:

Day before yesterday we were marched to within sight of the Rebel Brest works at Cumberland Gap. While on the way, our battalion got word that the Enemy, one thousand strong, was after us and we were halted and under much excitement.

Col. Bailey ordered us to load, load, load. Our boys took it very cool and loaded. The officers were more excited than the men. One Battalion of Regiment had been sent on in advance and we supposed the Enemy had cut them off and we were ordered forward at the double quick. We went three miles in a short time which brought us within a mile of the Enemy Entrenchments.

We had a very plain view in and around the Gap of the Enemy's works. Our advance Battalion under the Col. DeCourcey and Maj. Kershner were all right. We were brought up the line of battle and after standing fifteen minutes we were ordered to lay on blankets (which we had in rolls round our shoulders) and take a rest which we relished very much after marching so much.

After our rest we were ordered back to camp. We got into camp at 8 o'clock at night after a march of twenty eight miles.

Of this event, Pvt. Newt Gorsuch, Company B, in his diary states the following:

Get near Gap. See fortifications. Fire enemies pickets. Try to take enemies cavalry but they cross river two miles above and escape. 4 o'clock skirmish. 5 o'clock sitting in sight and under the very ends of the enemies guns. We have but 2 companies and they have 4,000 men. I can see them gathered in groups watching us like hawks. ... After seeing all we want to leave this place very much. Go two miles and stop for night. Sleep on two slabs in hay mow.

According to Gorsuch, at least one or two companies of troops may have stayed longer and didn't make it back to camp until noon the next day, spending the night two miles away from the Gap.

Period map showing the approximate route of the 16th Ohio on its scouting mission from camp at Cumberland Ford to Cumberland Gap.
image from Library of Congress
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