M31-MAY 1863

The Confederacy scored its most remarkable military victory, but lost one of its best commanders. Vicksburg and Port Hudson came under Federal siege. The Confederate Congress enacted several new laws, and the U.S. War Department authorized the recruitment of black troops. A prominent northern Democrat was arrested for opposing the war, while Lee embarked on a bold new strategy.

Fighting on May 3 | Image Credit: CivilWarDailyGazette.com

The Battle of Chancellorsville: Hooker Pulls Back

1 May – General Robert E. Lee rushed to trap the Federal Army of the Potomac in the Wilderness, while portions of the two armies clashed outside Fredericksburg to the east.

The Battle of Port Gibson

1 May – Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals tried pushing inland from the Mississippi River to gain a foothold on the ground south of Vicksburg. Confederates blocked their advance at Port Gibson.

The Battle of Chancellorsville: Jackson Attacks

2 May – Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Confederates attacked the unsuspecting Federal right flank, but Jackson was seriously wounded in the aftermath.

The Battle of Chancellorsville: Fighting Resumes

3 May – General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates resumed their attacks in hopes of cutting off the Army of the Potomac before it could reach the Rapidan River.

The Battle of Salem Church or Second Fredericksburg

3 May – Federals attacked the Confederate defenders on Marye’s Heights in a fight reminiscent of the Federal disaster at Fredericksburg last December.

Fighting at Fredericksburg and Salem Church Continues

4 May – Confederates regained Marye’s Heights outside Fredericksburg, as Federals retreated across the Rappahannock River.

Vicksburg: Grant Moves East

4 May – Major General John S. Bowen’s Confederates evacuated Grand Gulf, as Federals under Major General Ulysses S. Grant continued their eastward advance from Port Gibson.

The Battle of Chancellorsville: Federal Withdrawal

5 May – The Federal Army of the Potomac retreated across the Rappahannock River to regroup in their original camps at Falmouth, Virginia.

The Chancellorsville Aftermath: Lincoln Visits Hooker

7 May – President Abraham Lincoln and General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck arrived at Aquia Creek to meet with Major General Joseph Hooker regarding the Army of the Potomac’s latest defeat.

The Death of “Stonewall” Jackson

10 May – Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, commanding the Second Corps in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, died after being shot on May 2.

The Battle of Raymond

12 May – A lone Confederate brigade offered stiff resistance against one of Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal corps near the town of Raymond, Mississippi.

The Fall of Jackson

14 May – Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals seized the Mississippi capital as part of their roundabout offensive against Vicksburg.

Lee’s Daring Gamble

15 May – Confederate General Robert E. Lee attended a strategy conference with President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet at Richmond, where Lee unveiled a daring plan to invade the North once more.

The Battle of Champion’s Hill

16 May – Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals headed west from Jackson and took on Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton’s Confederates near the halfway point to Vicksburg.

The Battle of Big Black River

17 May – Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federals routed Confederates under Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton and sent them fleeing into the defenses outside Vicksburg.

The Battle of Vicksburg

18 May – Major General Ulysses S. Grant followed up his overwhelming Federal victory on the Big Black River by driving toward Vicksburg, the ultimate goal of his campaign.

Lincoln Banishes Vallandigham

19 May – President Abraham Lincoln directed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton to banish former Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham to the South for voicing anti-war views that the administration considered dangerous.

The Reorganized Army of Northern Virginia

20 May – General Robert E. Lee submitted a request to the Davis administration to reorganize his Confederate army before launching his second northern invasion.

Port Hudson: Federals Close the Escape Route

21 May – Major General Nathaniel P. Banks’s Federal Army of the Gulf finally began advancing on Port Hudson, Louisiana, after conducting a series of ancillary operations.

The Second Battle of Vicksburg

22 May – Major General Ulysses S. Grant resolved to send his Federals against the Confederate defenses outside Vicksburg once more.

The Siege of Vicksburg

25 May – Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton offered Major General Ulysses S. Grant a truce, while President Jefferson Davis tried hurrying Confederate reinforcements and Federal army-navy forces began a siege.

The Battle of Port Hudson

27 May – Major General Nathaniel P. Banks directed his Federal Army of the Gulf to attack the strong Confederate defenses at Port Hudson, Louisiana.

Armies Begin Stirring in Northern Virginia

31 May – Major General Joseph Hooker replaced his cavalry commander, Confederates raided his depot, and General Robert E. Lee sought to hurry his planned northern invasion.

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Last Updated: 9/30/2018

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