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16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Where was the regiment on
Wednesday, December 31, 1862

On this day the 16th Ohio remained in the fields along Chickasaw Bayou, along with Col. John DeCourcey's brigade and most of Sherman's divisions. These troops, once strong and hopeful of a quick victory and taking of Vicksburg, now badly wounded both in body and spirit, camped in muddy fields amidst the cold, winter rain, not knowing what awaits them. Today, the Confederates finally honored the Union's flag of truce and allowed them to recover their dead from the battlefield. It is unknown how many wounded soldiers laid bleeding and dying on the battlefield for two days as the Rebels refused to permit the Union from rescuing and possibly saving some of them.

Cpl. Theodore Wolbach, Company E, writes:

The next day, the 31st, we had better success. When our flag of truce was exposed they ceased firing and permitted us to come forth and gather the stiffened forms with their horrid, ghostly faces. A tall, light sandy-haired fellow, that was wounded in the leg, was barely alive, the breathing was just perceptible. He seemed to be past suffering and soon died.

One of the 9th Iowa boys, fair and young, who had fallen near the crossing of the bayou, was recognized by his comrades as a fellow that had told before going into the fight that he had over two hundred dollars in greenbacks sewed up inside of his drawers. This was verified on search, though it seemed very singular that the rebels did not find it as they had stripped everything from him except shirt and drawers.

During the truce many men of both armies flocked to the banks of the bayou to have a chat. At one place Col. Henderson, of the 42d Georgia, was in the opposite crowd. He was a large, big-whiskered, boisterous, boastful man, and made himself very obnoxious in our short interview. Some of the Confederates called on him for a speech, to which he readily responded. Mounting a hump of earth he opened out in style and language similar to the following.

You Yanks have been threatening to do big things. You said you'd take Richmond; you didn't take it. You have come to take Vicksburg, but you haven't took it and never will. You can hang around in the swamps here till the gallinippers (musquitoes) eat you up and it won't do you any good. We have our muskets and bayonets to depend on and our families and our firesides to fight for and we will defend them with our lives.

Col. Henderson was a poor prophet for the following summer we gobbled him and his regiment and also took Vicksburg and didn't get eat up by the gallinippers.

A long trench was shoveled out in an old cotton field about half a mile in our rear. Here, side by side in a long line, dead men of regiments from six western States were laid and the soft earth heaped over them. That night we received orders to quietly withdraw from our position and return to our boats. Everything was conducted so nicely that the rebels did not discover that we were gone until the next morning.

* Information and italicized quotations above 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 photo from road taken by DeCourcey's brigade morning of December 29, 1862, looking southeast toward Walnut Hills (Chickasaw Bluffs) in background. The 16th Ohio and 54th Indiana marched on the left side and 42nd Ohio and 22nd Kentucky on the right side, across the corduroy bridge, attacking the Confederate rifle pits just beyond. After the battle, DeCourcey's brigade would have camped somewhere near here in the fields.

* image courtesy of Bruce Schulze,

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