May 12, 1863 – A lone Confederate brigade offered stiff resistance against one of Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal corps near the town of Raymond, Mississippi.
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 and cut the supply line between Vicksburg and the state capital of Jackson.
Pemberton informed General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Confederate Western Department, and President Jefferson Davis that he intended to confront the Federals as they advanced toward Edwards Station, 16 miles east of Vicksburg. 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.”
Early on the 12th, Federal Major General James B. McPherson’s 12,000-man XVII Corps resumed its advance toward Raymond, about 15 miles west of Jackson, with General John A. Logan’s division in the lead. The Federals climbed a ridge about three miles southwest of Raymond near 10 a.m. Brigadier General John Gregg, commanding a Confederate brigade, learned of the Federal approach. Believing these troops were just a feint, Gregg 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 Major Generals William T. Sherman and John A. McClernand advanced along different routes and clashed with various Confederate units.
Pemberton 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 Johnston at Jackson: “In addition to the 5,000 men originally ordered from Charleston (from 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.
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