Tricounty News

Civil War digest: This week 150 years ago MaYy 13-19, 1863

Major Highlights for the Week

Wednesday, May 13, 1863

Two corps of Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s army moved towards Jackson, Miss., while Major General John A. McClernand’s corps headed north to Clinton. At Jackson, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston could only muster 12,000 men and knew that Grant’s army stood between him Major General John C. Pemberton’s army.

Skirmishes occurred at Mississippi Springs, along with Baldwin’s Ferry and Hall’s Ferry, all in Mississippi.

Thursday, May 14, 1863

ENGAGEMENT AT JACKSON, MISS.

By midmorning, Major General James McPherson’s and Major General William T. Sherman’s corps of Major General Ulysses Grant’s army neared Jackson, Miss., in a hard rain. Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, knowing that it was futile to oppose Grant with only 12,000 men, evacuated his supply chain and moved off to the north. The Federals easily overcame the two Confederate brigades and by midafternoon occupied the state capital. Major General John A. McClernand, on the rail line between Jackson and Vicksburg, stood between Johnston and Confederate Major General John C. Pemberton’s forces. Grant’s task was now to turn west from Jackson and move against Pemberton near Edwards’s Station.

In Virginia, Major General Joseph Hooker wrote to President Abraham Lincoln about his problems with the Army of the Potomac, which had delayed further operations since the Battle of Chancellorsville two weeks earlier. Lincoln, in turn, wrote the general that he would not complain if he kept the enemy at bay but would not restrain him from renewing the attack, and warned Hooker that he had intimations that “some of your corps and Division commanders are not giving you their entire confidence.”

Friday, May 15, 1863

Using several roads, Federal Major General Ulysses Grant’s forces converged on Edwards’s Station, east of Vicksburg. Major General William T. Sherman and two divisions remained in Jackson to destroy Confederate supplies and installations. Confederate Major General John C. Pemberton’s main force was near Edwards’s Station and a strong garrison was at Vicksburg. Portions of the two armies were only four miles apart by nightfall.

Skirmishing occurred at Fort Smith, Ark.; and at Big Creek, near Pleasant Hill, Mo.

Saturday, May 16, 1863

BATTLE OF CHAMPION’S HILL, MISS.

Major General Ulysses Grant’s Federal army advanced from Jackson towards Vicksburg, threatening to cut the communications between Confederate Major General John C. Pemberton, near Edwards’s Station, and General Joseph E. Johnston further north. The Confederates were blockaded by Federal forces at Champion’s Hill. A division of Federal Major General John A. McClernand’s corps attack just before noon, driving the Confederates back on the left. Confederates successfully counterattacked, forcing Grant to reinforce his right with Major General James McPherson’s men. By mid-afternoon, the hill changed hands a third time. Pemberton failed to rally his troops and began to withdraw towards Vicksburg and the Big Black River. Federal troops engaged were 29,000 with 410 killed; 1,844 wounded and 187 missing for 2,441 total casualties. The Confederates started with just under 20,000 troops and lost 381 killed; approximately 1,800 wounded and 1,670 missing for a combined loss of 3,851. Pemberton was left with little choice but to fall back towards Vicksburg.

Sunday, May 17, 1863

ENGAGEMENT AT BIG BLACK RIVER BRIDGE, MISS.

Confederate Major General John C. Pemberton, with his back to the Big Black River between Vicksburg and Jackson, awaited a missing division, which was cut off and forced to join General Joseph E. Johnston’s army. The Union army opened fire on the entrenched Confederates, who, in danger of being cut off from crossing the river, retired in disorder and burned the bridges. Federal Major General Ulysses Grant’s army was temporarily halted. Federal losses were 39 killed; 237 wounded and 3 missing for 279 total casualties, while more than 1,700 Confederates were captured. 

Monday, May 18, 1863

SIEGE OF VICKSBURG BEGINS

Federal Major General Ulysses Grant’s triumphant army moved across the Big Black River, took Haynes’s Bluff, and began to siege the city of Vicksburg, Miss. Confederate Major General John C. Pemberton, ordered by General Joseph E. Johnston to evacuate the city, and while considering the problems of how to get out and the effect of losing such a key position, with the advice of subordinate officers, decided to stay. The Siege of Vicksburg had begun.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis called for civilians and militia members to join General Joseph E. Johnston’s army in Mississippi and urged Johnston to link up with Pemberton and attack the enemy.

Tuesday, May 19, 1863

FIRST ASSAULT ON VICKSBURG

Federal Major General Ulysses Grant, anxious to climax his campaign with the surrender of Vicksburg, hoped that a sudden assault would prevent Confederate Major General John C. Pemberton from completing his defensive arrangements. In midafternoon, Federal Major General William T. Sherman’s forces attacked, despite heavy fire on the Union right, and made an advance at Stockade Redan. However, he failed to penetrate the works and was driven back. Major Generals James McPherson and John A. McClernand had even less success. About a thousand Federal casualties ensued, attesting to the strong Confederate position. Federal mortars began pounding the city from vessels on the Yazoo River.

Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of May 13-19, 1863

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Bivouacked near Banks Ford, Va., until June 1863.

2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Chapel Hill, Tenn., until June 4, 1863.

3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Fort Heiman, Ky.,until June 2, 1863.

4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battles of Jackson, Champion’s Hill, and Big Black River Bridge, Miss., in support of Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign, and the Siege of Vicksburg.

5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the skirmish at Mississippi Springs, and Battle of Jackson, Miss., and the Siege of Vicksburg.

6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Camp Pope near Iowa City, Iowa until June 16, 1863.

7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Mankato and other points in Minnesota until June 1863.

8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On frontier duty at various points in Minnesota: Anoka, Princeton, Monticello, Kingston, Manannah, Paynesville, Fort Ripley, Sauk Center, Pomme de Terre, Alexandria and Fort Abercrombie until May 24, 1864.

9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in various frontier Minnesota communities until June 1863. 

10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Regiment on detached service for garrison duty at various outposts in frontier Minnesota until June 1863.

1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – Organized at
St. Cloud, St. Peter and Fort Snelling for frontier duty against Indians until June 1863. 

Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On duty at Fort Donelson, Tenn., until June 5, 1863.

1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty during siege of Vicksburg, Miss., until July 4, 1863.

2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – On duty at Murfreesboro, Tenn., until June 4, 1863.

3rd Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery - Organized at Fort Snelling, Minn., from the enlisted men of the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiments. On duty at Fort Snelling until
June 16, 1863.

2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – Bivouacked near Falmouth, Va., until June 1863.