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Realising the futility of attempting to halt Grant with only 12,000 men, Johnston began to evacuate to the north. Two brigades were left to delay the Federals at Jackson (above left) but these were easily defeated by McPherson's and Sherman's corps.
To meet the threat posed by Grant's advance from Jackson, Pemberton deployed one division to defend his left, and two divisions to oppose McClernand. But the Confederates were blocked by Federal forces at Champion's Hill (above). In the subsequent fighting the hill changed hands three times. The Confederates failed to rally and began to withdraw toward Vicksburg.
passed before it was concentrated.
Johnston ordered Pemberton east to attack the Federals near Clinton, but one of the Confederate couriers was a Federal agent who delivered the order to Grant. Grant ordered Sherman to destroy Jackson's railroads, while McPherson and McClernand marched to intercept Pemberton.
On May 16, with Grant's columns advancing, Johnston ordered Pemberton to concentrate north of the Southern Railroad. He was too late: McPherson was approaching Champion Hill. Pemberton deployed Major General Carter L. Stevenson's division to meet this threat to his left, while General Bowen's and Major General William W. Loring's divisions faced east to oppose McClernand. At 10.30 a.m. Grant launched an attack on Stevenson. In the bitter fighting, Champion Hill, changed hands three times, and Bowen made one of the great charges of the war. By 5 p.m. the Confederates retreated across Bakers Creek. Grant resumed the advance on May 17. Sherman and McPherson were to cross the Big Black upstream from the Confederate bridgehead - a line of breastworks held by Bowen. But before they could cross, one of McClernand's brigades charged the breastworks. A Confederate brigade panicked, and those to its left and right fled west across the river. Pemberton retired into Vicksburg with more of a mob than an army.
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