Claiborne County Civil War Project


The County was the site of two important Civil War battles. The first of these occurred when Rear Admiral David Porter led seven ironclads in an attack on the fortifications and batteries of Grand Gulf.
 Battle of Grand Gulf   
Location: Claiborne County
Campaign: Grantís Operations against Vicksburg (1863)
Date: April 29, 1863

Principal Commanders: Rear Adm. David D. Porter [US]; Brig. Gen. John S. Bowen [CS]

Forces Engaged: Mississippi Squadron and Companies A,B,D,F,G,H,K, 58th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment [US]; Bowen's Division and attached troops [CS]

Estimated Casualties: Total unknown (US 80; CS unknown)

Description: Rear Adm. David D. Porter led seven ironclads in an attack on the fortifications and batteries at Grand Gulf, with the intention of silencing the Confederate guns and then securing the area with troops of McClernandís XIII Army Corps who were on the accompanying transports and barges. The attack by the seven ironclads began at 8:00 am and continued until about 1:30 pm. During the fight, the ironclads moved within 100 yards of the Rebel guns and silenced the lower batteries of Fort Wade; the Confederate upper batteries at Fort Cobun remained out of reach and continued to fire. The Union ironclads (one of which, the Tuscumbia, had been put out of action) and the transports drew off. After dark, however, the ironclads engaged the Rebel guns again while the steamboats and barges ran the gauntlet. Grant marched his men overland across Coffee Point to below the Gulf. After the transports had passed Grand Gulf, they embarked the troops at Disharoon's plantation and disembarked them on the Mississippi shore at Bruinsburg, below Grand Gulf. The men immediately began marching overland towards Port Gibson. The Confederates had won a hollow victory; the loss at Grand Gulf caused just a slight change in Grantís offensive.

Result(s): Confederate victory

The Battle of Port Gibson started near the A. K. Shaifer house, May 1, 1863. A Federal Commission has recently compiled a Battlefield Preservation profile for the Port Gibson Battlefield.
The Battle of Port Gibson was a crucial step leading to the Siege of Vicksburg and the opening of the Mississippi River.

Battle of Port Gibson    
Other Names: Battle of Thompsonís Hill
Location: Claiborne County
Campaign: Grantís Operations against Vicksburg (1863)
Date: May 1, 1863

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant [US]; Brig. Gen. John S. Bowen [CS]

Forces Engaged: Army of the Tennessee (comprising two corps) [US]; Confederate forces in area (one reinforced division: four brigades) [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 1,648 total (US 861; CS 787)

Description: Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant launched his march on Vicksburg in the Spring of 1863, starting his army south, from Millikenís Bend, on the west side of the Mississippi River. He intended to cross the river at Grand Gulf, but the Union fleet was unable to silence the Confederate big guns there. Grant then marched farther south and crossed at Bruinsburg on April 30. Union forces came ashore, secured the landing area and, by late afternoon, began marching inland. Advancing on the Rodney Road towards Port Gibson, Grantís force ran into Rebel outposts after midnight and skirmished with them for around three hours. After 3:00 am, the fighting stopped. Union forces advanced on the Rodney Road and a plantation road at dawn. At 5:30 am, the Confederates engaged the Union advance and the battle ensued. Federals forced the Rebels to fall back. The Confederates established new defensive positions at different times during the day but they could not stop the Union onslaught and left the field in the early evening. This defeat demonstrated that the Confederates were unable to defend the Mississippi River line and the Federals had secured their beachhead. The way to Vicksburg was open.

Result(s): Union victory

Letter from Jefferson Davis to the Senate of the Confederate States

Richmond, Va., January 8, 1864.

To the Senate of the Confederate States:

I herewith transmit for your information a communication from the Secretary of War, covering copies of the "report of Gen. J. E. Johnston, of his operations in the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana," and of the "report of Lieut. Gen. J. C. Pemberton, of the battles of Port Gibson, Baker's Creek, and the siege of Vicksburg," to which is appended a copy of correspondence of the Department with him relative to some points of the report which were thought to require explanation.

Jefferson Davis