Tuesday, July 9, 2013

150th of the Surrender of Port Hudson, LA

Left: US General Nathaniel Banks; Right: CS General Franklin Gardner

On this day, 9 July, in 1863, a Confederate force of some 6,500 men under CS General Franklin Gardner that had garrisoned Port Hudson, Louisiana surrendered to the Union XIX Corps of US Major General Nathaniel Banks (Union Department of the Gulf).

Map of the siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana.

Port Hudson, along with Vicksburg, Mississippi, had been crucial Southern strongholds on the Mississippi River that denied the Union free use of that river, and tied the Trans-Mississippi of the Confederacy together to the East.

US General U.S. Grant and the Union Army of the Tennessee campaigned against CS General John C. Pemberton at Vicksburg at the same time that Banks moved on Gardner at Port Hudson.

In the Spring of 1863, Union gunboats under US Rear Admiral David Farragut attempted to render the Confederate position indefensible, but failed.  Nathaniel Banks and his infantry would move into position in May 1863 to invest the Southern defenses.

File:Port Hudson Ravine Earthworks.jpg
Contemporary photograph of the earthworks at Port Hudson.

On 22 May 1863, US General Banks invested those Confederate position at Port Hudson, and the 4.5 miles of Southern earthworks were surrounded.

Following the failed frontal assaults of 27 May 1863, the Union army settled into a 48 day siege of Port Hudson.  Another wave of assaults against the Confederates failed on 14 June 1863.

It was, in the end, news of the capitulation of the more important position at Vicksburg that prompted CS General Gardner to finally surrender his position to the Union.  So it was on 9 July 1863.

The Confederates had 7,500 men to start, but lost 750 killed or wounded, 250 died from disease, and 6,500 capitulated to the North.  For the Union, our of a force of 40,000 Banks lost 10,000, evenly split between battle losses and disease, including sunstroke.

President Abraham Lincoln could now proclaim that the Father of the Waters ran unvexed to the sea -- and the Union controlled the Mississippi, cutting the Confederacy in two.

US General Nathaniel Banks would be heard from again, as he would lead a force up the Red River of Louisiana in 1864...

For more on Port Hudson, you might note:
NPS Battle Description

Civil War Daily Gazette Entry on Port Hudson

Port Hudson State Historic Site, Louisiana

Live well!

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