Port Hudson, Siege of | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Port Hudson, Siege of

Civil War Battle Summary

Port Hudson, Siege of | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeView from a distance of a side-wheel Union gunboat.

Union Gunboat

View from a distance of a side-wheel Union gunboat. View the original source document: WHI 70659

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


The Union victory at Port Hudson, Louisiana, gave it complete control of the entire Mississippi River — 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.

Wisconsin's 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.

Links to Learn More

[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). ]