The Crossroads at Champion Hill

Crossroads Monument, Champion Hill Battlefield
Crossroads Monument, Champion Hill Battlefield

NPS Photo

In 1977, Champion Hill was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior, and the historic marker shown at right — one of only two monuments on the battlefield — was appropriately placed at the Crossroads. Whoever held the Crossroads during the Battle of Champion Hill, controlled the battlefield.

During the Civil War the Jackson Road veered north at this point and crossed the crest of Champion Hill, 800 yards away. The remaining section of the historic trace is to the right of the marker. The paved road leading to this site was referred to as the Middle Road, and the dirt road running west from this point was the Ratliff Road.
 
Historic Jackson Road Trace and Paved Middle Road
Historic Jackson Road Trace and Middle Road (Paved)

NPS Photo

 
Historic Trace, Jackson Road
Historic Jackson Road Trace

NPS Photo

The Confederate line as established on the morning of May 16, extended from the Crossroads to the Ratliff Road, and controlled both the Middle Road and the Raymond Road. Unknown to the Confederate high command, however, strong Union columns were pushing down the Jackson Road from Bolton. This would place the Federals on the flank and in rear of the Confederate army. The movement was discovered in time and Confederate troops were rushed to the crest of Champion Hill, but the powerful Union advance stormed the hill and drove the Southerners back beyond the Crossroads. Early that afternoon, Bowen's Confederate division, positioned on the Ratliff Road, charged with a vengence and regained control of Champion Hill. When Federal troops broke through the roadblock on the Middle Road, 600 yards to the east, Bowen's position became untenable and he was compelled to retreat. With the battle lost, Confederate troops left this area via the Ratliff Road and fled to the lower crossing of Bakers Creek.
 
Remains of Historic Roberts House Cistern, Champion Hill Battlefield
Remains of Historic Roberts House Cistern, Champion Hill Battlefield

NPS Photo

Confederate General Pemberton's field headquarters was established in the Isaac Roberts house on the morning of May 16, 1863. (The site is private property and inaccessible to the public.) Early in the afternoon, as General Bowen's division swept past to regain Champion Hill, Pemberton waved his hat to inspire the men. A group of ladies standing nearby sang "Dixie." When Bowen's counterattack was driven back, Pemberton sadly issued orders for his army to retire from the field.

Late that night, Grant made the Roberts house his headquarters, but as it had been converted into a Confederate field hospital, the Union commander slept on the porch.

Last updated: March 16, 2018

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