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Contact: Kristin Wollenzien, 601-636-7395
On May 14, 2013, Vicksburg National Military Park interpretive staff will highlight the 150th commemoration of the Battle of Jackson which occurred on May 14, 1863. The program will take place from 9-10am at the historic Coker House located in front of the Cal-Maine Foods plant approximately 3 miles east of Edwards on Highway 467. There is no fee for the program.
Initially marching his XVII Corps toward Clinton, MS, on May 13, 1863, Maj. General James McPherson turned east toward Jackson on May 14, while Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's XV Corps moved up the Raymond-Jackson Road, also toward Jackson. Maj. Gen. John McClernand's XIII Corps waited in reserve, having been given the job to keep Lt. General John Pemberton's army away from the Union troops attacking the city. When Confederate General Joseph Johnston arrived and saw the inadequate entrenchments surrounding the city, he decided to evacuate. Had Johnson decided to stay and fight, he could have held back the Union advance and given Pemberton the opportunity to move out of Vicksburg and catch the Union troops in a pincer movement.
With little resistance from the Confederate army, Union troops quickly occupied Jackson, destroying the rail lines and barring the Confederates reinforcements south and east of Jackson entry to the city. Johnston's decision to leave Jackson proved disastrous to the Confederate hopes of saving Vicksburg. By retreating, Johnston kept thousands of troops, needed cannon, munitions, and equipment from getting to Pemberton. When Johnston moved out of Jackson, he essentially took himself out of the Vicksburg campaign and left Pemberton to fend for himself.
The historic Coker House sits on the southern portion of Champion Hill battlefield and was held by both Union and Confederate forces during the campaign, sustained fire from the artillery and infantry of both sides, and served as a field hospital during and after the battle of Champion Hill May 16, 1863. Visitors should allow approximately 1 hour for the talk, bring chairs or blankets to sit on, and carry plenty of water. Please note there are no comfort facilities at Coker House.
Admission to the Vicksburg National Military Park is $8.00 per personal vehicle, and all applicable Vicksburg and National Park Service annual passes are accepted. The park is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily and information regarding entrance fees or programs can be found on the park's website at www.nps.gov/vick or calling 601-636-0583.