Civil War Trust’s map of the Battle of Champion Hill
Following the Union occupation of Jackson, Mississippi, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston retreated, with most of his army, up the Canton Road, but he ordered Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton to leave Edwards Station and attack the Federals at Clinton.
On May 16, 1863, about 7:00 am, the Union forces engaged the Confederates and the Battle of Champion Hill began. Pemberton’s force drew up into a defensive line along a crest of a ridge overlooking Jackson Creek. Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Lee, posted atop Champion Hill, was able to warn Pemberton of a Union column moving toward his unprotected left flank, threatening to cut the Rebels off from their Vicksburg base.
When Grant arrived at Champion Hill, around 10:00 am, he ordered the attack to begin. By 11:30 am, Union forces had reached the Confederate main line and about 1:00 pm, they took the crest while the Rebels retired in disorder. The Federals swept forward, capturing the crossroads and closing the Jackson Road escape route.
After a brief Confederate counterattack, Grant sent in forces that had just arrived from Clinton by way of Bolton. Pemberton’s men could not stand up to this assault, so he ordered his men from the field to the one escape route still open: the Raymond Road crossing of Baker's Creek. Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman’s brigade formed the rearguard, and they held at all costs, including the loss of Tilghman. The Confederates were in full retreat towards Vicksburg.