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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Battle of Port Gibson

Battle of Port Gibson

While the fighting was ranging around Chancellorsville, Virginia, U.S. Grant was still pursuing his campaign against Vicksburg, Mississippi. He had run the transports past the batteries, and used them to ferry his troops to the eastern side of the Mississippi River on April 30. They immediately began pushing inland, though they were hampered by the fact that John McClernand did not issue rations to his men. The only Confederate forces in the immediate vicinity were a few brigades under John S. Bowen. He placed his troops just south of the town of Port Gibson. The position was strong – the southerners occupied high hills overlooking brush-cocked ravines. But their position was weakened in that they had no cavalry, which was off chasing Union raiders. They didn't know exactly where the Union had crossed.

Gibson
Marching through the night, Federal troops began to arrive near Bowen's position. Artillery and musketry broke out at 3 am on May 1, 150 years ago today. Union troops attacked, and hit the advance Confederate brigade on the flanks. It broke and fell back to another position. The north had 20,000 troops on hand, and more on the way. But their tactics were lacking, and a Confederate counterattack hit McClernand's right flank. Night began to fall on a field locked in stalemate. But then the Federals were able to make a flank attack of their own on the Confederate right, rendering the entire position untenable. Bowen's retreat continued the next day, and the formidable fortifications at Grand Gulf were abandoned and destroyed.

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