Battle of Big Black River Bridge


Battle of Big Black River Bridge

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Big Black River Bridge


caption=Grant's Operations against Vicksburg
partof=the American Civil War
date=May 17, 1863
place=Hinds County, Mississippi
result=Union victory
combatant1= flagicon|USA|1861 United States (Union)
combatant2= flagicon|CSA|1863 CSA (Confederacy)
commander1=John A. McClernand
commander2=John S. Bowen
strength1=XIII Corps, Army of the Tennessee
strength2=5,000Kennedy, pp. 170-71.]
casualties1=276
casualties2=1,751

The Battle of Big Black River Bridge, or Big Black, fought May 17, 1863, was part of the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. Union commander Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee pursued the retreating Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton following the Battle of Champion Hill, in the final battle before the Siege of Vicksburg.

Background

Reeling from their defeat at Champion Hill, the Confederates reached Big Black River Bridge, the night of May 16 to 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.

Battle

Three divisions of Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand's XIII Corps moved out from Edwards Station on 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. Lawler formed 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 River on 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.

Aftermath

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.

References

* [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.

Notes

External links

* [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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