Scenes from the Vicksburg campaign

In the early spring of 1863, Grant put his army to work digging a sixty foot-wide canal across the oxbow bend at Vicksburg. Work came to a sudden halt in early March, when it was almost done, because the temporary dike at the north end of the channel broke, flooding their digs and camps. It was never completed.

remains canal

The remains of Grant's canal to bypass Vicksburg, present day.

Once Grant's army had crossed the Mississippi, his first objective was to take the port of Grand Gulf to remove Confederate control of that stretch of the river and to provide the Union Army with a supply depot. Bayou Pierre, in spring high water, was the main obstacle between their landing at Bruinsburg and Grand Gulf. The only bridges were near the town of Port Gibson, which is where the first battle of the campaign was to be fought.

bayou pierre

Bayou Pierre, taken in May, 2005. The Confederates burned the bridges as they retreated.

After their victory at Port Gibson, the Union forces struck toward Raymond. Osterhaus turned up intelligence that Pemberton was gathering his forces near the railroad town at Edwards Station, about six miles east of the Big Black River. The battle of Champion Hill took place not far from here.

edwards station

Edwards Station, present day. Recognize the bridge from "Oh, Brother"?

After the Union victory at Champion Hill on May 16, 1863, Osterhaus and Carr's divisions pursued Pemberton through Edwards Station to the railroad bridge on the Big Black River. Osterhaus was wounded while setting up his artillery to attack the Confederate rear guard, dug in with their backs to the river behind a huge field. Mike Lawler's brigade made their way across the field through an old meander scar until they were close to the rebel lines and then charged, starting a Confederate retreat.

big black

Big Black meander scar today. Lawler's advance came from the riverside trees in the rear of the shot. At the time, the scar was deep enough to protect the brigade as it advanced across the open field.

During the Vicksburg siege, Osterhaus's command protected Grant's rear from Joe Johnston. His headquarters was on the heights on the west side of the Big Black River at the railroad bridge.

Big black bridge

Big Black River showing remains of old railroad bridge, burned during Pemberton's retreat to Vicksburg.


The Big Black River near the railroad bridge. As the siege wore on, the water level dropped, making the river fordable in several places. This increased the threat of Johnston's frequent cavalry sorties crossing into Grant's rear. Osterhaus's brigade was responsible for patrolling twenty-five miles of this river line until Grant moved Sherman over to take command of a larger force on June 22.

py; 2009-2019 Mary B. Townsend unless otherwise specified.

9-2019 Mary B. Townsend unless otherwise specified.

B. Townsend unless otherwise specified.

py; 2009-2019 Mary B. Townsend unless otherwise specified.