- Battle of Big Black River Bridge
Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Big Black River Bridge
caption=Grant's Operations against Vicksburg
American Civil War
May 17, 1863
Hinds County, Mississippi
combatant2= flagicon|CSA|1863 CSA (Confederacy)
John A. McClernand
John S. Bowen
Army of the Tennessee
strength2=5,000Kennedy, pp. 170-71.]
The Battle of Big Black River Bridge, or Big Black, fought
May 17, 1863, was part of the Vicksburg Campaignof the American Civil War. Union commander Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grantand the Army of the Tennesseepursued the retreating Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pembertonfollowing the Battle of Champion Hill, in the final battle before the Siege of Vicksburg.
Reeling from their defeat at Champion Hill, the Confederates reached Big Black River Bridge, the night of
May 16to May 17. Pemberton ordered Brig. Gen. John S. Bowen, with three brigades, to man the fortifications on the east bank of the river and impede any Union pursuit.
Three divisions of Maj. Gen.
John A. McClernand's XIII Corps moved out from Edwards Stationon the morning of May 17. The corps encountered the Confederates behind breastworks of cotton bales fronted by a bayou and abatis. They took cover as enemy artillery began firing. Union Brig. Gen. Michael K. Lawlerformed his 2nd Brigade, Eugene A. Carr's 14th Division, which surged out of a meander scar, across the front of the Confederate forces, through waist-deep water, and into the enemy's breastworks, held by Brig. Gen. John Vaughn's East Tennessee Brigade.
Confused and panicked, the Rebels began to withdraw across the
Big Black Riveron two bridges: the railroad bridge and the steamboat "Dot", used as a bridge across the river. As soon as they had crossed, the Confederates set fire to the bridges, preventing close Union pursuit. The fleeing Confederates who arrived in Vicksburg later that day were disorganized.
The Union forces captured approximately 1,700 troops at Big Black and many drowned, a loss that the Confederates could ill-afford. Fewer than half of the Confederates who had fought at Champion Hill made it into the defenses at Vicksburg. This battle sealed Vicksburg's fate: the Confederate force was bottled up at Vicksburg.
* [http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/ms010.htm National Park Service battle description]
* Kennedy, Frances H., ed., "The Civil War Battlefield Guide", 2nd ed., Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998, ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
* [http://www.nps.gov/vick/vcmpgn/key.htm National Park Service, Vicksburg]
* [http://www.military.com/Resources/pics/civilwar_map21_largerview.jpg"West Point Atlas" map of Grant's advance from Jackson to Vicksburg]
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