6th Mississippi Infantry Regiment
The Vicksburg Campaign
On April 17th, 1863, what had become known as the Vicksburg Campaign, began for the Sixth when they, along with the 1st Confederate Battalion and Hudson's Battery were orderd to Grand Gulf to reenforce General Bowen. They left Jackson the next day and spent the second night at Rocky Springs where they were told to await further orders.
General Bowen arrived on the 19th and the following morning, the army followed the general through Port Gibson and to five miles south of the city. They set up camp and began digging in near the Magnolia Church.
By this time, the Sixth had approximately 600 able-bodied men. Company G was send on picket detail at Grand Gulf, leaving about 540 men to represent the Sixth. The time there was easy duty, but the army remained ever alert and cautious.
Two hours past midnight on May 1st, the soldiers were awakened by the sound of musket fire. The news quickly spread that General Grant's army had arrived. The Confederated formed a line of battle in the darkness and the Battle of Port Gibson had begun.
The Sixth had a good location on a ridge and successfully repulsed their attackers. Six hours into the battle, General Bowen personally ordered the Sixth and the 23rd Alabama to take an enemy battery located on a nearby ridge. He personally led the attack down into the ravine, across Mr. Foster's corn field and up a hill and they captured the guns. The location was untendable, so the Sixth and 23rd slowly withdrew and went back to their original position. Though they achieved their objective, the Sixth paid a high price and received over 100 casualties.
5,164 Confederates faced 24,000 Union soldiers at the Battle of Port Gibson. Union command was able to add men and extend the line in an ongoing effort to out flank the Confederates. Unlike the enemy, the Confederats did not have men to add to the line and the exhausted troops stretched their thin gray line until it broke after at least twelve hours of heavy fighting.
About 1,000 Confederates were captured. Soon afterwards, the rest of the gray line retreated. The officers were able to rally some of the men to continue the fight. They formed another line of battle and held their ground until the order to retreat was given at dusk. The weary soldiers fled through Port Gibson with the enemy in hot pursuit.
By 9 p.m., the remnants of Bowens army crossed Bayou Pierre and burned the bridges, then dug in on the north side and waited. General Loring arrivied at Grand Gulf with part of his army around midnight. Before sunrise on May 3rd, the Confederate army wighdrew from Claiborne and finally stopped at Hankinson's Ferry on the Big Black River.
The Sixth, once again, had the honors of providing the rear guard. The kept Grant's army across Bayou Pierre long enough for the rest of the army to safely arrive at Hankinson's Ferry. Soon afterwards, General Tilghman withdrew his troops and joined the rest of the army.
On May 4th, Tilghman was moved to Baldwin's Ferry, about 12 miles up river from Hankinson's Ferry. The dug in in anticipation of unwanted guests. While at Baldwin's Ferry, the Battle of Raymond was fought on the 12th. On the 14th, they were ordered to Edwards Station and arrived that afternoon in torrential rains. By that evening, there was approximately 22,000 Confederate troops in the close proximity of Edwards Station. A Council of War was held that night and it was decided that they would become the aggressor and planned to attack the Union army near the Dillon Plantation located west of Raymond.
The Confederate army was awakened early the next morning and prepared to march, but did not move out until noon. Tilghman's Brigade took the lead down the Raymond-Edwards Road. Baker's Creek was flooded and the army had to take a detour to get across. It was late that afternoon before Tilghman's men finally crossed. That night they spend the night at Mrs. Ellison's farm.
The morning of May 16th dawned clear and the army began to move out on the muddy roads. At about 8 a.m., Confederate pickets sounded the alarm. The Union army was also on the Raymond-Edwards Road!
The Confederates pulled back and hastily formed a battle line. The Sixth took a position on the left side of a ridge approximately 1500 yards south of the Raymond-Edwards Road. This was the extreme right of the Confederate line.
The fight that day was on the left flank on Champion's Hill. The battle was being lost by the Confederates until General Bowen managed to push the enemy back off the hill. General Loring was ordered to move his men where General Bowen's were prior to their attach. After readjusting the line, General Tilghman's men were across the Raymond-Edwards Road.
Soon afterwards they were ordered to the left to assist General Bowen. Just as they were about to move out, a Union column was spotted near Mrs. Ellison's home and part of the Sixth was detailed as skirmishers to take care of the newly discovered enemy. The remainder of the Sixth followed Tilghman's army to Champion's Hill. They did not get very far when they were ordered back to the Raymond-Edwards Road and ordered to hold the road at all costs.
Back where they started from, they dug in on a ridge locatead about 600 yards west of the Coker House, where they esily held their position.
In the meantime, the men detailed as skirmishers managed to push the enemy back from Mrs. Ellison's home. These men were under the command of Major J. R. Stevens and since the rest of their brigade had moved, he led his men toward the sound of the battle. They marched a couple miles and joined the fight where they stayed until ordered to withdraw at about 5 p.m.
Major Stevens and his men followed what was left of Bowen's army and came out on the Raymond-Edwards Road behind where General Tilghman and the rest of the Sixth were, and followed the army across Baker's Creek through Edwards and to the other side of the Big Black River.
While the army withdrew, General Tilghman's men held their ground. They moved closer to Baker's Creek and still held the enemy back. Union artillery was placed in the front yard of the Coker House with orders to remove the stubborn Confederates across the Raymond-Edwards Road. A fierce artillery duel followed. Tragedy struck when General Tilghman was killed by an enemy cannonball. Despite the death of the man many of the soldiers had followed for so many months, they held the enemy back and the fire from Cowan's Battery was so severe that the Chicago Mercantile Battery in front of the Coker House had to pull it's effective guns back. Colonel A. E. Reynolds assumed command of Tilghman's Brigade and was finally ordered to withdraw form its position. As usual, they provided rear guard.
General Loring thought he had been cut off from the rest of the army. After dark, he moved his troops along the east side of Baker's Creek and did not stop until they reached Crystal Springs the next day. On the 19th, Loring's exhausted army headed back to Jackson, arriving the next day. There, the joined the smally army and prepared to defend the capital from the inevitable visit from General Grant.
The other part of the Sixth were still with Bowen on the western side of the Big Black River. Once the Union army arrived, there was a brief battle, the the Confederates retreated to Vicksburg. Rest did not come for the Sixth until they arrived at the left flank of the Confederate line near Fort Hill. Directly across from them was the Union army's right flank.
General Grant tried several frontal attacks against Vicksburg but was brought to a standstill every time. Realizing the impossibility of a successful attack, Grant began a siege on the City of Vicksburg. The seige lasted 47 days. General Pemberton surrendered to Grant on July 4, 1863.
Once paroled, Major Stevens headed his demoralized, unarmed, hungry men toward Jackson. As they got closer to home, many men deserted. In Company E alone, twenty-one men had deserted.
the 14th of July, General Pemberton's thinned ranks were camped near Brandon. Because this was so close to home for many of the men, the general saw no alternative but to allow the men to take furloughs. He hoped that by showing such kindness, they would return to the army after the furloughs expired. Those not on furlough soon followed General Pemberton to Enterprise.
While the men with Major Stevens were in the trenches of Vicksburg, the other men were in the trenches in Jackson. During this time, there was yet another reorganization and General Adams became the commander of the 1st Confederate Battalion, the 6th, 14th, 15th, 20th, 23rd and 26th Mississippi Infantry Regiments and the Lookout Artillery from Tennessee. At the end of May, Adams' new brigade rode the cars to Canton.
After a few days in Canton, the Sixth marched to nearby Benton where it served as reserves for Gen eral W. H. T. Walker's army in the Yazoo City area.
On June 15th, Loring's Division moved south to Vernon. They camped near Beatty's Bluff until the July 1st, when they moved towards Vicksburg. On the 5th, news was received that the Confederate forces at Vicksburg had surrendered. The division returned to Jackson on the 7th and took up position on the Confederate right flank in defense of the city.
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This page was last updated on August 8, 2000.