Previous Date Day By Day Index 16th OVI Home Page Next Date
16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Where was the regiment on
July 26, 1862

On this day the 16th Ohio marched from Camp Virginia, on the western side of Cumberland Gap, about 15 miles south-southeast, to Tazewell, Tennessee, on a foraging expedition. As reported by then Private William Reid, (we) obtained all the forage we wanted. It appears that different regiments or elements of regiments took turns performing foraging missions, mostly east and south of The Gap and toward or even past Tazewell, Tennessee. This is the first mention of the 16th performing such duty, however, today's successful and relatively peaceful effort is to be followed, soon, by a foraging mission with much different consequences.

The regiment's first foraging mission was described in some detail by Cpl. Theodore Wolbach, Company E, in his articles about the history of the regiment, Camp and Field, published in the early 1880s in the Holmes County Republican newspaper and available in its entirety on this website:

While we were pursuing the discipline of camp life with clock-like precision, the Federal troops beyond the Gap were making frequent raids outside of the lines in quest of forage and to keep posted on the location of the enemy, and in a few instances exchanged shots with them.

Our turn was coming. On the evening of the 26th of July, we had two days rations issued to us, with orders to be ready to move early on the following morning. The next day found us wending our way over the undulating landscape southward. Our objective point was Tazewell, a lovely town of three hundred inhabitants, nine miles south of Cumberland Gap. The roads were good, the weather splendid, and as only the toughest of the men were taken and being in light marching order, we reached the vicinity of the town early in the forenoon. Information was brought to us that some rebels were in town, so our officers organized a plan to capture them. A squad of about forty was sent around to the right and came into the south end of the town on the double-quick. The result was a grand water haul. The enemy had galloped out in safety before we sprung the trap, and in a few minutes we saw them quietly watching us from a distant hill to the southward.

Wolbach tells us most of the regiment camped for the night near a large, brick building in the town of Tazewell and continues:

When evening came those that had been in the advance during the day were sent out in the direction of the enemy and acted as pickets during the night. The rebel cavalry were pretty close to our lines but were very cautious.

The foraging missions are foretelling of the situation General Morgan's troops endure while occupying Cumberland Gap. They are a strong force and should be able to withstand nearly any enemy force that seeks to dislodge them. However, they have a vulnerability common to so many such "occupiers" throughout history: they need food. Morgan's troops have no supply lines to the north so they are reliant on feeding themselves from whatever they can harvest or commandeer from the land and towns around them. Rebel forces already occupy many of the passes and roads used by Morgan to reach the Gap. Frequent foraging expeditions are necessary to sustain the Union troops. Morgan has asked for reinforcements, several times, but to no avail. He enjoys the relatively peaceful months of July and August, however, the Confederates and their general, Kirby Smith, have ideas of their own.

Period map showing the approximate route of the 16th Ohio on its first foraging mission out from Cumberland Gap to Tazewell, Tennessee.
Image from Library of Congress
Previous Date Day By Day Index 16th OVI Home Page Next Date