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16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Where was the regiment on
Thursday, January 1, 1863

On this day the 16th Ohio and all of Gen. William T. Sherman's forces quietly withdrew from the front around Chickasaw Bayou and McNutt Lake. Sherman had decided there was too much risk to keep his army in the flood-prone bottom land and that the Confederates had too strongly reinforced to make another attack successful. The 16th returned to the steamboat Fanny Bullit which had been waiting for them along the Yazoo River from where they had disembarked six days earlier.

Cpl. Theodore Wolbach, Company E, writes:

That night (January 1, 1863) 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. Two Company E men, Geo. Feister and Phillip Straits, had gone away in the evening to a place of safety to sleep. When they arose in the morning they were no doubt surprised that our forces had disappeared without them hearing the movement. While the two belated fellows were eagerly looking at the vacated position as if to satisfy themselves that the Federals were really gone, a 'gray coat' made his appearance on top of the works that our men had thrown up, then another and another until a strong skirmish line presented itself. Our two fellows needed no more to stimulate them and away they 'struck' for the boat landing, where they arrived panting and exhausted, boarded the last transport that was just ready to haul in her line. The Confederate skirmishers came in force to the river bank soon after. The infantry on the transport and a gunboat opened a hot fire at them and drove them back.

The days that immediately succeeded the Yazoo expedition were dismal ones to the 16th boys, but they soon recovered their buoyant spirits and those that were left were as good as ever. Our boat, the Fanny Bullitt, had a lot of mules on the lower deck and before we debarked many a soldier got lively thumps from their nimble heels.

The navy had rendered active assistance on the Yazoo and had met with some loss of life. While we were preparing for an assault on the 29th, the gunboats were thundering away at Haine's Bluff, several miles up the river, to create a diversion. While we were yet at Memphis the gunboat, Cairo, was sunk in the Yazoo by a torpedo discharged by electricity from the shore. The manipulator being concealed behind a tree.

Our brigade had approached the battlefield of Chickasaw resolutely and performed the work assigned them with patriotic zeal. We had been severely repulsed and lost heavily on the 29th, yet we remained in our position in the edge of the dripping forest until Pemberton's army, now released from watching Grant, by the disaster to the Federal arms in northern Mississippi, had accumulated in our front in overwhelming numbers, though they dared not come out and attack us. We could accomplish no more good at present here so we were quietly and cautiously marched away at night. Sherman soon issued a report of the expedition in which he was candid and manly, and assumed the responsibility of the failure of the expedition to secure the desired results. He addressed himself to the entire corps in tones of decency.

* 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.

Period map showing the movement of General Morgan's division as they withdrew from Chickasaw Bayou about 10:00am on January 1, 1863 (ending position approximate):

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