Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant

In the Battle of Port Gibson’s aftermath, Major General Ulysses S. Grant turned his army east and drove General Joseph E. Johnston’s forces away from the state capital at Jackson, Mississippi, on May 14, 1863. [Wikimedia Commons]

Battle of Port Gibson Facts

May 1, 1863

Key facts about the Battle of Port Gibson.

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Date and Location

  • May 1, 1863
  • Claiborne County, Mississippi (roughly 30 miles south of Vicksburg)

Campaign

Principal Union Commanders

Principal Confederate Commanders

Union Forces Engaged

  • Army of the Tennessee (2 corps)

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Bowen’s Division

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 23,000

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 6,000-8,000

Estimated Union Casualties

  • 875 (131 killed, 719 wounded, and 25 missing/captured)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 787 (60 killed, 340 wounded, and 387 missing/captured)

Result

  • Union victory

Significance

  • The Battle of Port Gibson on May 1, 1863, was a pivotal event of the Civil War in Mississippi which featured the largest amphibious operation of the United States Army prior to June 6, 1944.
  • Following the Confederate victory at the Battle of Grand Gulf on April 29, 1863, Major General Ulysses S. Grant ordered Major General John A. McClernand and Major General James B. McPherson to march their 13th and 17th Army Corps down the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River opposite Bruinsburg.
  • Following the Confederate victory at the Battle of Grand Gulf on April 29, 1863, Major General Ulysses S. Grant ordered Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter to transport the Army of the Tennessee’s troop barges past Fort Cobun, down the Mississippi River opposite Bruinsburg.
  • Beginning on April 30, 1863, two corps of the Army of the Tennessee (23,000 soldiers) crossed the Mississippi River on troop barges and established a beachhead at Bruinsburg, Mississippi.
  • The Union troop landing at Bruinsburg, Mississippi, on April 30, 1863, was the largest amphibious offensive in American history prior to the invasion of Normandy, France, during World War II.
  • The Union troop landing at Bruinsburg, Mississippi on April 30, 1863, was unchallenged.
  • The only Confederates near Bruinsburg, Mississippi, on April 30, 1863, were Major General John S. Bowen’s force of 6,000-8,000 soldiers who had marched to Port Gibson after thwarting the Union Army of the Tennessee’s attempted landing at Grand Gulf the previous day.
  • After establishing a beachhead at Bruinsburg, Mississippi, on April 30, 1863, the Federals divided their forces and moved along two roughly parallel roads that converged near Port Gibson, about ten miles to the east.
  • Leading up to the Battle of Port Gibson, Major General James B. McPherson’s 17th Army Corps marched from Bruinsburg, Mississippi, along Bruinsburg Road.
  • Leading up to the Battle of Port Gibson, Major General John A. McClernand’s 13th Army Corps marched from Bruinsburg, Mississippi, along Rodney Road.
  • Prior to the Battle of Port Gibson, Confederate Brigadier General John S. Bowen deployed Brigadier General Martin E. Green’s Brigade west of Port Gibson along Rodney Road.
  • Prior to the Battle of Port Gibson, Confederate Brigadier General John S. Bowen deployed Brigadier General Edward D. Tracy’s brigade across Bruinsburg Road.
  • At daylight on May 1, 1863, Federal troops began their assault on Confederate defenders along Bruinsburg and Rodney Roads near Port Gibson.
  • At roughly 8 a.m., a Union musket ball pierced General Tracy’s breast, killing him instantly, but his men held on until about 10 a.m. when their lines began to crumble.
  • Confronted by overwhelming numbers during the Battle of Port Gibson, Confederate troops established a succession of new lines while being forced back steadily.
  • During the Battle of Port Gibson, Confederate Brigadier General John S. Bowen wired his superiors: “We have been engaged in a furious battle ever since daylight; losses very heavy. The men act nobly, but the odds are overpowering.”
  • After two desperate counterattacks failed in the late afternoon during the Battle of Port Gibson, Confederate Brigadier General John S. Bowen recognized the futility of further resistance against the Union onslaught and ordered a retreat, leaving behind several hundred prisoners.
  • Under threat of being surrounded, Confederate Brigadier General John S. Bowen was forced to evacuate the formidable Fort Cobun at Grand Gulf, yielding control of the area to Grant’s Army of the Tennessee.
  • In the aftermath of the Battle of Port Gibson, Major General Ulysses S. Grant turned his army east and drove General Joseph E. Johnston’s forces away from Jackson, Mississippi, on May 14, 1863, preventing Johnston from uniting with Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton, now isolated at Vicksburg.
  • The Federal landing at Bruinsburg, Mississippi, and the ensuing victory at the Battle of Port Gibson, cemented a Union presence in western Mississippi that led to the eventual downfall of the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River.

Timeline of the Vicksburg Campaign

These are the main battles and events of the Vicksburg Campaign in order.

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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Battle of Port Gibson Facts
  • Coverage May 1, 1863
  • Author
  • Keywords Battle of Port Gibson
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 31, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 14, 2021
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