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Battle of Big Black River Bridge

American Major Civil War Battle (1863)

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.

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.

Submitted By:  David Allison


 
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