On July 11, Brig. Gen. Thomas Welsh's division of Parke's Corps advanced on both sides of the Canton Road to test the strength of the Confederate defenses. In response, the rebel batteries poured shot and shell into the advancing federal line. Although they took few causalities, it was evident that the line was strongly manned. On the east side of the Canton Road, however, in the sector near the Cotton Bale Battery, the 2nd Michigan Infantry advanced without support, thinking the rest of the brigade under Col. Daniel Leasure was also advancing. Despite charging alone, the Michiganders drove in the Confederate pickets and advanced to within a few yards of the Confederate works, manned at that point by troops under the enigmatic William W. Loring. “Old Blizzards” was so concerned with Welsh's advance that reinforcements were rushed to his aid from the south end of the line. These reinforcements were from Benjamin Hardin Helm's brigade of Breckingridge's division. Helm, who was President Lincoln's brother-in-law, would be killed just two months later at Chickamauga. Without support, the attack by the 2nd Michigan was doomed to fail. During the attack, Capt. Charles B. Haydon of Co. I was wounded a short distance from the rebel works. When he regained consciousness, Haydon (right) wrote in his dairy that when he could not move or speak he began to wonder if he were not already dead. "I soon discarded this idea but still felt certain that I must die very soon. My whole feeling,” he wrote, “became one of wonder & curiosity as the change which I believed I was about to experience.'” After a few minutes, Haydon was carried back to the lines from members of his company and lived to fight another day, although he never fully recovered from the wounds he received at Jackson and died in Cincinnati in March, 1864.
Among the dead was George Poundstone (right), the flagbearer of the 53rd Illinois. Poundstone's body was found on the field still clutching the regimental colors, stained with his blood. The flag, still stained with Poundstone's blood, is now at the Ilinois State Military Museum. Lauman, following the attack, appeared unable to function and could only report that he had been “cut to pieces.” Arriving at his headquarters, Edward Ord immediately dismissed Lauman and replaced him with Alvin P. Hovey. The veteran Lauman would never be called on again to command troops during the war and spent the remainder of the conflict at his home in Iowa. A truce between the lines was later agreed to bury the dead, which had taken on decidedly unpleasant aromas in the hot Mississippi sun.
After settling down to a classic siege, few other incidents of note took place around Jackson, but Sherman used the time well, sending cavalry and infantry north and south of Jackson to tear up railroads and burn depots in all directions. North of Jackson, in Madison County, Charles Woods’ (right) brigade of Parke's Corps, along with a Union cavalry brigade, moved toward Canton. Along the way, they burned the depot at Calhoun Station, about halfway to Canton. Many of the men in Wood's brigade were German immigrants. Ironically, Calhoun station would be settled around the turn of the century by other German immigrants and renamed Gluckstadt. The only troops opposing Woods' and Cyrus Bussey's expedition were cavalry under the capable leadership of William Wirt Adams. Outnumbered, however, he could not stop the Federal advance and Canton was briefly occupied and much of her railroad facilities wrecked, along with the Dixie Works, a supplier of Confederate war materiel. Other combat teams moved south along the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad as far as Bahala and Brookhaven, wrecking bridges, trestles and tearing up track.
As with the previous occupation of Jackson, additional destruction took place, only adding to the misery of the townsfolk. Jackson, after suffering two Union occupations, earned the nickname “Chimneyville” because of the number of buildings which had been burned. Even Sherman, who established his headquarters in the Governor’s Mansion, observed that the city “with the destruction committed by ourselves in May last and by the enemy during this siege, is one mass of charred ruins." A Confederate soldier by the name of J.M. Armstrong echoed these
sentiments. “The city is a perfect waste,” he wrote. “All the citizens gone. Their fine fences have been torn down for shelters and all the gardens is our common pasture. A great many houses have been broken open & ransacked by our men & everything that is valuable taken away. I am perfectly disgusted with such conduct. The citizens say they were not ½ so much damaged by the federals while they stayed here.” Numerous other accounts also mention the destruction which occurred in Jackson. Even so, there is still a great deal of debate about the actual extent of the damage, as many of the most prominent public buildings survived intact. In addition, photographs taken in 1866 show a large number of intact buildings, indicating that they were either rebuilt during the war or immediately after, which, given the general state of affairs seems unlikely. Alas, the actual extent of damage may never be fully known. What is known is that the people of Jackson, white and black, suffered from lack of food and water, and soon after Johnston’s men evacuated the city Mayor Charles Manship (above) approached Sherman to request assistance. Sherman, with Grant's approval, provided 200 barrels of flour and 100 barrels of salt pork to the citizenry. Sherman wanted to go further, establishing an exchange depot on the Big Black River where Mississippi citizens could trade cotton and other commodities for food, but Grant vetoed that idea.
As with any military action, provisions had to be made for the dead and wounded. Many of the Confederate dead were subsequently buried in Jackson's Greenwood Cemetery, where they remain today. The Union dead would be reinterred, in 1866, in the Vicksburg National Cemetery. All totaled, the human toll was small compared to other engagements - slightly more than 1,600 killed, wounded and missing, and most of the Union casualties were from the disastrous assault by Pugh's brigade on July 11.
Today, despite the destruction which took place in Jackson in 1863, a number of prominent buildings remain, included the Old Capitol, the Governor's Mansion and the Jackson City Hall. Unfortunately, little physical evidence remains from the siege lines. There is a Union battery position (a “lunette”) on the grounds of the former insane asylum (now the University of Mississippi Medical Center) and a few remnants of the XIII Corps trenches in Battlefield Park (right) on the south end of town. Unfortunately, these are incorrectly identified as Confederate trenches and include two Spanish American field artillery pieces, both pointing the wrong direction. Regrettably, the site of the Cotton Bale Battery been bulldozed within the past year to make way for a large hospital complex.
Photo and Image Sources:
(1) Johnston: http://kvm.kvcc.edu/civilwar
(2) Artillery: http://www.48ovvi.org/oh48hd8.html
(3) Siege map: http://www.usgwarchives.org/maps/mississippi/civilwar/jacksonsiege1863.jpg
(4) Haydon: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/guides/civilwar
(5) Adams: http://www.nps.gov/vick/historyculture
(6) Confederate artillery: http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums
(7) Poundstone: http://www.fold3.com/document/305969913/
(8) Piano: http://www.washingtonartillery.com
(9) Woods: http://www.old-picture.com
(10) Old Capitol: http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/76/capitals-and-capitols-the-places-and-spaces-of-mississippis-seat-of-government
(11) Destruction: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Old-Capitol-Museum/
(12) Manship: http://mshistorynow.mdah.state.ms.us/articles/76/capitals-and-capitols-the-places-and-spaces-of-mississippis-seat-of-government
(13) Steele: http://www.civilwarvirtualmuseum.org/1863-1865/camden-expedition-red-river/frederick-steele.php
(14) Battlefield Park: Photo by author