Battle of Champion's Hill, Mississippi, Brief Description
16 May 1863
Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, reaching Jackson, Miss., ordered Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, 14 May 1863, to march east and assail the Union army near Clinton. By the time Pemberton joined his 22,000-man army at Edward's Station, Miss., he had decided it would be "extremely hazardous" to implement his superior's instructions. A council of war determined that Pemberton would march southeast and attack Union supply trains and reinforcements en route from Grand Gulf to Raymond, Miss. On 15 May the army moved out, slowed by delays for which Pemberton was responsible; by nightfall the column had moved less than 5 mi.
Maj. Gen. U. S. Grant, apprised of Johnston's plans, moved to intercept Pemberton, employing the corps of Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson and John A. McClernand. Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's corps remained in Jackson. When Union troops bivouacked on the 15th, 3 divisions were near Bolton on the Jackson Road, 2 on the Middle Road, and 2 on the Raymond Road.
On the morning of the 16th Pemberton's pickets clashed with Grant's approaching columns, and a message came from Johnston reiterating an order to concentrate north of the Southern Railroad. Pemberton issued orders to countermarch through Edward's and out the Brownsville Road.
He was too late. McPherson had advanced from Bolton and was nearing Champion's Hill, a commanding elevation. To meet this threat, Pemberton deployed 3 brigades of Maj. Gen. Carter L. Stevenson's division, while the divisions of Brig. Gen. John S. Bowen and Maj. Gen. William Wing Loring fronted to the southeast to counter McClernand's columns. At 10:30 Grant mounted an attack on Stevenson. During the fighting, Champion's Hill and the crossroads changed hands 3 times. Out-generaled, the Confederates by 5 p.m. were fleeing across Baker's Creek, leaving 27 cannon and hundreds of prisoners on the field. In the retreat to the Big Black River, Loring's division was cut off but eventually joined Johnston.
Source: "Historical Times Encyclopedia of the Civil War" edited by Patricia L. Faust
This page last updated 02/16/02
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