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16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Where was the regiment on
Tuesday, May 19, 1863

On this day, Gen. Osterhaus' division and the 16th Ohio resumed their march to Vicksburg, now just a few miles away. Unfortunately, the burning of the bridges over the Big Black River, the day before, delayed the Union advance long enough to allow the Confederates to occupy and improve their defensive works all around Vicksburg. It is likely the city could have been taken within a few days without this delay but, instead, it would be another seven weeks before Vicksburg would fall.

Today, the Union troops would make their first direct assault on Vicksburg. Private Peter Perrine, Company C, in his diary describes the assault:

Moved forward 3 miles and found the enemy inside their Forts in rear of the city of Vicksburg. Our Division made a charge over the hills & ravines, and got a position about 400 yards from two of their large forts. We had to go through a perfect Shower of iron & lead.

Corporal Theodore Wolbach, Company E, describes the day in more detail:

On the morning of the 19th we were on the move early and after marching about two miles we began to see the distant yellow earth-works that environed the rear of the city of Vicksburg. As we deployed and swept forward in line, white puffs of smoke from the works disclosed to us the position of their batteries. Never faltering, the line pressed onward under the increasing fire that was noisy and warlike enough, though not very destructive, until we got within about one fourth of a mile, when the infantry began to peck away at us. In spite of this combined fire we approached close to the rifle-pits--the infantry of our brigade within about fifty yards. The rebel cannon in our immediate front were in position on the parapets. The exposed position of the gunners soon enabled us to silence their pieces. In gaining this ground several of the 16th were killed--the writer recollects two, John Jordon, of Co. E, and Jacob Megary, of Co. C, and a number wounded. Clouds of powder-smoke and the dark lines of Federals showed how the work was progressing far to our right. The Confederate fortifications were now invested to about two thirds of their extent. The place occupied by the 16th was near the extreme left of the Federal line. The way was for a few days necessarily open to the south and if the rebels had chosen to, before reinforcements arrived and extended our line they could have made annoying sorties on our exposed left flank. The ground adjacent to the works was fortunately favorable to a beseiging [sic] army, permitting it to get, by a little resolution a good strong position within close rifle-range of the enemy, who had their line constructed on the higher ridges; we being in most cases located lower. The rebel rifle-pits formed the horizon in our front, and every hand or head that appeared above the crest was quickly detected by our watchful sharp-shooters. A lively fusilade [sic] was kept up from the time we struck the works in the forenoon, until it became too dark to see anything in the evening. From that on into the wee hours, talking, moving around and now and then a little shooting was kept up. The sound of the pick and shovel was heard on the crest of the hills to the rear, where entrenchments were being thrown up for the field guns that were fairly prepared for work next morning. The dead were carried back for burial and the wounded to the hospital, so when day dawned the front line had only their enemies to look after and let fly at them when they exposed themselves.

* 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.

Period map showing the approximate route of the 16th Ohio, with Gen. Osterhaus' 9th Division, from their camp at three miles east of Vicksburg to their approximate battle position on the southern end of the offensive line at Vicksburg, Mississippi, during the first attack against the Rebel fortifications:

Modern day map of the 16th Ohio's march from their camp, three miles east, to the battle line at Vicksburg, where the first assault occurred on May 19, 1863. Route and positions are highly estimated based on current research. Positions will be refined as more information is discovered:

Yellow pin - approximate campsite of 16th Ohio, three miles east of Vicksburg, on the night of May 18, 1863.
Red pin - approximate position of 16th Ohio during first assault on Vicksburg May 19, 1863.
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