Major-General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal Army of the Tennessee was moving northeast toward the Mississippi capital of Jackson. Grant goal was to the cut the supply line between Jackson and the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River. By the morning of May 12, Grant’s army was situated as follows:
- Major-General John A. McClernand’s Thirteenth Corps made up the left column as it moved along Fourteen-Mile Creek near Edwards Station, a depot on the Jackson & Vicksburg Railroad about 16 miles east of Vicksburg.
- Major-General James B. McPherson’s Seventeenth Corps made up the right column as it advanced toward Raymond, about 15 miles west of Jackson.
- Major-General William T. Sherman’s Fifteenth Corps made up the center column and was moving out of Grand Gulf, behind McClernand and McPherson.
Lieutenant-General John C. Pemberton, commanding the Confederate Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana, still believed that Grant’s primary target was the Jackson & Vicksburg Railroad where it crossed the Big Black River. As such, he directed Major-General William W. Loring to defend that point with 20,000 Confederates. Pemberton did not know that Grant intended to move east of Loring to cut the railroad.
Pemberton informed President Jefferson Davis, “I am obliged to hold back large forces at the ferries on Big Black, lest he cross and take this place. I am also compelled to keep a considerable force on either flank of Vicksburg, out of supporting distance of Edwards, to prevent his approach in those directions.” Pemberton requested reinforcements, “Also, that 3,000 cavalry be at once sent to operate on this line. I urge this as a positive necessity. The enemy largely outnumbers me, and I am obliged to hold back a large force at the ferries on Big Black.”
Pemberton also directed that a brigade and two batteries move out of Jackson to cover Raymond in case the Federals might probe in that direction. He did not expect Grant to be sending an entire corps that way. The Confederate brigade consisted of just 5,000 men under the command of Brigadier-General John Gregg. The Federals, led by Major-General John A. Logan’s division, climbed a high ridge about three miles southwest of Raymond near 10 a.m. Gregg, believing these troops were just a feint, arranged his men and guns in line of battle.
The Confederates opened fire as Logan’s Federals descended the ridge. The Federals responded by forming a battle line of their own and advancing into the woods surrounding Fourteen-Mile Creek. The two sides exchanged intense fire, as Gregg repelled Logan’s initial advance. The heavy smoke and dense brush prevented Gregg from seeing how outnumbered he truly was. It also confused the Federals and caused some to flee before Logan personally rallied them.
By 1:30 p.m., elements of McPherson’s other two divisions had come up to reinforce Logan, along with 22 guns. Logan attacked again and broke the Confederate right. Gregg, now realizing he was outnumbered three-to-one, began slowly pulling back through Raymond around 2 p.m.
The Federals sustained 442 casualties (66 killed, 339 wounded, and 37 missing). The Confederates lost 514 (72 killed, 252 wounded, and 190 missing), of which 345 came from the 7th Texas and 3rd Tennessee regiments alone. Gregg withdrew to Jackson, where Confederate reinforcements were arriving.
The Federals entered Raymond around 5 p.m. and seized a large amount of food and supplies the Confederates left behind. They also laid waste to much of the town. McPherson notified Grant, “The rough and impracticable nature of the country, filled with ravines and dense undergrowth, prevented anything like an effective use of artillery or a very rapid pursuit.” Meanwhile, Grant’s other two corps under Sherman and McClernand advanced along different routes and clashed with various Confederate units.
The fight at Raymond did nothing to dissuade Pemberton from thinking that Grant’s main thrust would come on the supply line between Vicksburg and Jackson. He telegraphed Major-General Carter L. Stevenson, commanding Confederates at Vicksburg:
“From information received, it is evident that the enemy is advancing in force on Edwards’s Depot and Big Black Bridge; hot skirmishing has been going on all morning, and the enemy are at Fourteen-Mile Creek. You must move with your whole division to the support of Loring and Bowen at the bridge, leaving Baldwin’s and Moore’s brigades to protect your right.”
Davis responded to Pemberton’s message by wiring General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Confederate Western Department at Jackson: “In addition to the 5,000 men originally ordered from Charleston (i.e., General P.G.T. Beauregard’s department), about 4,000 more will follow. I fear more can not be spared to you.”
Although the engagement at Raymond was relatively small, it changed Grant’s plans. He had originally intended to merely cut Vicksburg off from Jackson, but now, seeing how lightly defended the state capital was (and learning that Johnston was on his way with reinforcements), he decided to veer east and capture Jackson before pivoting west toward Vicksburg. Grant no longer needed to worry about Confederates coming up from behind and cutting his supply line because his men were now living off the land.
- Ballard, Michael B., Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi. The University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
- Bearss, Edwin C. (Patricia L. Faust ed.), Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.
- Catton, Bruce, Grant Moves South. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, Inc., 1960.
- Crocker III, H. W., The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War. Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2008.
- Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government: All Volumes. Heraklion Press, Kindle Edition 2013, 1889.
- Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Fredericksburg to Meridian. New York: Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (Kindle Edition), 2011.
- Grant, Ulysses S., Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. New York: Da Capo Press, 1982 (original 1885, republication of 1952 edition).
- Korn, Jerry, War on the Mississippi: Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983.
- Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day. New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971.
- Woodworth, Steven E., Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865. New York: Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition, 2005.