Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sherman's Attack on Vicksburg (May 19, 1863)

Stockade Redan and Scene of Sherman's Attack
As the sun set over the high bluffs of Vicksburg, Mississippi, 150 years ago tonight, darkness fell to the sounds of groans and cries for help coming from hundreds of Union soldiers.

It was 150 years ago today, on May 19, 1863, that Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman to hurl his forces against the Stockade Redan, one of the powerful Confederate forts that ringed the city of Vicksburg. Grant hoped to strike a severe blow against the Southern defenses and break through into the city.

Stockade Redan from the Confederate Lines
The redan (a triangular fort) was powerfully-built, with earthen walls that were 17 feet high and a ditch of dry moat more than 8 feet wide. In front of the Stockade Redan was a cleared field of fire across which the Federals would have to advance into a hail of musket and cannon fire not only from the redan, but from an entire section of the Confederate line.

Stockade Redan was defended by the soldiers of the 36th Mississippi Infantry.

The Union soldiers attacked valiantly, but the Confederates were ready for them. By the time the heavy firing ended, Sherman's men had been hurled back in a bloody defeat. The Federals lost 157 killed and 777 wounded, while the Confederate army of Gen. John C. Pemberton lost only 8 killed and 62 wounded.

Rebel yells flowed over the open ground where masses of men in blue writhed in pain and agony. It would take all night to clear the wounded and give them even a semblance of care.

With the failed Union attack, the Battle of Vicksburg had begun. It would continue for more than six more weeks and when all was said and done, the Vicksburg Campaign would cost 20,000 men their lives. The fall of the city would break the Confederacy in two and give the Union control of the Mississippi River.

To learn more about the battle, please visit

To learn more about events planned for the 150th anniversary of the battle, please visit

No comments: