After crossing to the eastern bank of the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg on April 30, 1863, a powerful Union force immediately began to press north towards Vicksburg. Port Gibson, roughly ten miles east of Bruinsburg and commanding the best approach route to the Confederate river fortress, was the first Federal objective. Fierce night fighting erupted early on May 1 as the Union soldiers encountered their foes in the craggy, overgrown tangle around Port Gibson shortly after midnight. After a brief lull, the battle roared to life once more at dawn. Confederate general Edward Tracy was killed while directing the right flank of the defense. The battle continued for most of the day as successive Confederate lines buckled under the weight of the Union advance. A counterattack was bloodily repulsed in the late afternoon and the Southerners were forced from the field. The Battle of Port Gibson firmly secured a Union beachhead east of the Mississippi River.