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16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Where was the regiment on
Friday, August 15, 1862

On this day, Major Kershner took a truce party down into the Confederate held village of Tazewell to accomplish a prisoner exchange for the troops captured in the battle that occurred there nine days earlier. All of the Union troops captured at the Battle of Tazewell, Tennessee, were from the 16th Ohio. From a series of articles titled "Camp and Field - The Old 16th Ohio", Cpl. Theodore Wolbach of Company E, who was present and one of the prisoners captured at the battle, writes:

We were called into ranks on the morning of August 15th. Roll called by the Provost Marshal, and after an unaccountable tedious delay marched down into Tazewell, where we met the rest of our boys that were kept in jail; also Major Kershner who had come with the truce party from our lines. Another delay, during which we witnessed a street parade of Confederate cavalry --- a motley crowd. Aside from the horses there was no uniformity. They were principally fine looking animals and in good condition. With the men there was a disparity of ages and an astonishing variety of dress. Their collection of weapons would have attracted Barnum. Sabres of the most exquisite design and workmanship to the rude handiwork of the country blacksmith; fine breech-loading carbines to long clumsy flintlock rifles; splendid navy revolvers to uncertain home-made pistols. Thus panoplied for battle this cavalcade of fantastic warriors marched by.

The necessary arrangements being completed, a part of us were exchanged and the balance paroled. The business was transacted at a large brick house, the home of a Union family. While prisoners were waiting in the street, the lady of the house had the servants prepare some food and distributed it among us.

Leaving Tazewell, with its many Union citizens and the fresh graves on the hill slope, we struck out for our camp at a lively pace. The rebel pickets and guards along the road turned out and presented arms as we passed. An escort of their cavalry went with us far beyond their outposts. It was late in the night before the returning prisoners reached camp, where they were received with a noisy demonstration, a general handshaking and plenty of hot coffee.

Period map showing the route taken by Maj. Philip Kershner and his truce party when they travelled from Camp Virginia at Cumberland Gap south to Confederate held Tazewell, Tennessee, to retrieve the captured 16th Ohio prisoners held there since August 6.
Image ©2000 by Cartography Associates via David Rumsey Map Collection

This is a modern day photo of the jail house in Tazewell, Tennessee, still standing and at least partially restored. It is highly likely this is the jail mentioned by 16th Ohio soldiers in which some of the prisoners captured at The Battle of Tazewell were kept. The structure was built in 1819.
Image ©2000 by Cartography Associates via David Rumsey Map Collection
Claiborne County Jail, Tazewell, Tennessee
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