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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Port Hudson, Siege of

Definition:

Date(s): May 21-July 9, 1863
Location: 30 miles north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Google Map)
Other name(s): none
Campaign: Siege of Port Hudson (May-July 1863)
Outcome: Union victory

Summary

The Union victory at Port Hudson, Louisiana, gave it complete control of the entire Mississippi River ó from Minnesota to New Orleans.

By 1863, there were only two remaining places where the Confederates controlled the Mississippi River; Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Port Hudson, Louisiana. The Confederates had fortified Port Hudson, located 30 miles north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Its strategic location was high on the bluffs overlooking a substantial bend in the river. Ships passing downstream had to reduce speed and going upstream was a slow, painstaking process.

On May 21, 1863, Union troops arrived and the battle began. On May 27 they tried a frontal assault but were easily turned away and settled in for a siege. The Confederates held off the Union for 48 days until July 9. Confederate troops surrendered after they heard that Vicksburg had fallen on July 4, 1863.

Wisconsinís Role

The 4th Wisconsin Infantry arrived at Port Hudson on May 26, seized control of a strategic ridge during the attack the next day, and stayed on the front line for more than two weeks. Sixty men were either killed or wounded, including Colonel Sydney Bean, who was picked off by a Confederate sharpshooter on May 29.

Learn more

E.B. Quiner summarizes the experience of the 4th Infantry at Port Hudson on pages 503-504 of his book, "Military History of Wisconsin" (Madison, 1866).

View original documents

[Source: Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields (Washington, 1993); Estabrook, C. Records and Sketches of Military Organizations (Madison, 1914); Love, W. Wisconsin in the War of the Rebellion (Madison, 1866). ]
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