|Previous Date||Day By Day Index||16th OVI Home Page||Next Date|
During this time, the 16th Ohio remained in camp just north of Portland (Oak Hill), Ohio. Other elements of Morgan's Division were scattered in various small towns in the general vicinity and all awaited and eventually received new supplies of clothing and military articles necessary for a well equipped soldier and a Regiment to be ready for action.
Cpl. Theodore Wolbach, Company E, in his series of articles entitled Camp and Field - The Old 16th Ohio, writes of this time:
Our encampment here was a peculiar epoch in our history; all the way through the Kentucky wilderness our rags and nakedness had caused us no delicacy of feeling. Often we had stood in the presence of people that were dear to us for the loyal hearts that beat in their bosoms, but they were strangers. Now we were unexpectedly to be visited by relatives and friends of many of the boys and many a poor fellow resolute on other and trying occasions, found his knees growing weak, and his heart failing him, and skulked away to the screening shelter of some bivouac pen when ladies approached. Our camp in a day or two was a perfect jumble of shelters and pens, constructed of rails, straw, brush, boards, etc. Any loose material in the neighborhood that would answer the purpose was taken and wrought into habitations that would have excited the envy of a digger Indian.
We found it a little difficult to keep supplied with good water. The nearest well, at the house of a Welshman, back of camp, was dipped dry every morning. Men would come at the first dawn of day with their pails and canteens. Food and fuel was plenty, cooking utensils scarce. What few kettles and frying pans there were, were in use constantly from morning till night. This period was no holiday for the officers. They had their men to look after, and just now, for various well known, though not sufficient reasons, many were inclined to be insubordinate. We wanted tents, clothing and cooking utensils, and no doubt the proper officers were as expeditious as possible in getting them, but the boys were somewhat dissatisfied, and were willing to be noisy when the spirit moved them. Some fellows thought they ought to have furloughs to visit their homes because they were handy to them. Many took French leave and returned. I believe there were no actual desertions from this camp.
One night some Co. D boys, a little the worse for liquor, got defiant and ugly. Their captain, Milton Mills, an adept in the 'manly art of self defense,' went among them severally, blacking their eyes badly. Captain Harn had punished one of his boys away back in Kentucky, for some breach of discipline. The victim had held it in bitter remembrance, smothering his wrath and waiting for an opportunity to 'square accounts.' The gray-haired father of the young man came down from Wayne county to see his son, who related the circumstances of his punishment. The old gentleman, warmed up with anger, went to look for Harn. After a short search, he found the lion-hearted captain under his shelter of thatched straw. With very little question or remark, the old gent 'went for' the object of his anger with energy enough to have carried the day - but there was a lack of muscle. Harn received his adversary with coolness and held him off at arm's length until the rumpus could be settled with the tongue.
Plenty of sutlers soon set up in business but what tempted them to swarm in on Morgan's Division, at this time, is among the unexplained mysteries. Few of the boys had money in sufficient quantity to luxuriate in the delicacies of the sutler's shanty, at the exorbitant prices of that period. The tempting array of canned material, tobacco, cheese, etc., brought into life again the ingenuity of the camp thief, who, hesitating to steal from a comrade, looked upon the sutler as legitimate prey, and when any merchandise was abstracted from the sutler's stock by these nimble fingered gentry, it was as utterly useless to look for it among the soldiers as to search the tangled forests of the Amazon.
Levi Smith, an elderly man from Wooster, came to visit his son, a member of Co. H. Remaining several days, he took lodging at some house near the depot. During the daytime he made several trips to and from camp. Coming up toward camp one morning in company with some visiting acquaintances, he was abruptly and very unceremoniously approached by a very sad looking lady, whose husband, according to her story, had evidently been killed in battle. Smith had been pointed out to her as the Gineral. She had come far and wanted to see about getting a pension. In her half-frantic state of mind she opened out on Smith and (told) with pleading eloquence her touching story, addressing him frequently as Gineral. Smith tried to explain to her that he was only a citizen and not a General. The lady talked, and Smith talked, and the latter got considerably embarrassed, but after a few minutes patient and persistent explanation, he succeeded in convincing her that she was surely mistaken in the man. Mr. Smith briefly gave her such advise as he thought would help her along in her pension business, then leisurely moved on with his friends enjoying with the the joke of the lady's mistake.
The East Tennesseeans, ever since our first meeting with them, had been at times a source of amusement to us. It was very easy for us to distinguish them from the men of other states. Their appearance,, manner and many expressions of speech were peculiar. The word regiment they pronounced reegamant. They used the word fightinest in praising up the fighting qualities of an individual or organization. These fellows, in their early service, yielded to sickness very readily and when sent to the hospital preferred to go with all the available conveniences. A man with a monstrous knapsack, stuffed haversack, camp kettle or frying pan in hand, was not an uncommon sight in the neighborhood of the Tennessee camps. If asked where they were going, they invariably replied To the hospeetal. The rough and scant rations of a part of our mountain service bothered us northern fellows, but the Tennesseeans, with their elastic stomachs, seemed to suffer little inconvenience. Here at Portland wheat flour was issued to them a part of the time. Many of them went out among the citizens and tried to trade it off for for cornmeal. Wheat was a rarity at home to the majority, but corn was their staff of life. Some got the neighboring housewives to make them hoved up brade (light bread) out of their flour. These are a few humourous glimpses of these loyal mountain people, but back of their funny peculiarities lay the stern qualities of good soldiers that developed and became useful when they buckled down to the rough business afterward.
Over a hundred new recruits reached our regiment here, but as we were so very lousy it was deemed best to keep these slick, clean-looking fellows separated from us until we could draw new clothing. So they were quartered in tents some distance away from our bivouac But old friends recognized each other, and disregarding the wisdom of good advice, stole away from one camp or the other and slept together, and in this way some of the recruits were soon supplied with employment to them new and novel.
Finally new tents and new clothes came and there was a brilliant change on the face of things. The tents were of the bell pattern; same style that we had used in the beginning of our service. Old rags and vermin went into the fire together. Old blankets were sold for a trifle or given away. A citizen with a speculative turn of mind secured a respectable two horse wagon load for a very small sum of money. He lowed they'd make tol'able good horse blankets after bein' well biled.
We pitched our new tents away from the old bivouac and with new clothing and new blankets were now ready for campaigning again. We did not expect to wait very long for marching orders. We were ready now, and why should we wait? Many things that the boys had accumulated here, in a way that was deemed legitimate among soldiers, were disposed of. One fellow took a frying-pan to a farm house and traded it off for a loaf of bread. The people recognized the pan as one that had been stolen from them several weeks before. The boys tried to make the best of the few days that we expected to stay here. The sutlers suffered more from their depredations. A heavy patrol guard, under active officers, found themselves unequal to the task of catching the numerous guard-breakers. Many were put under arrest in the evening and released in the morning. No severe punishments were inflicted.
* Information and italicized quotations from a series of articles entitled Camp and Field - The Old 16th Ohio, written in the 1880s by Theodore Wolbach, late Corporal in Company E, 16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
Modern day map of 16th Ohio camp area near Oak Hill, Ohio (positions approximated):
A - Sciotoville/Wheelersburg, Ohio
B - Hamden, Ohio
C - Portland (Oak Hill), Ohio
|Previous Date||Day By Day Index||16th OVI Home Page||Next Date|