After the successful engagement at Raymond on 12 May, Ulysses S. Grant, the Union Commander of the Army of the Tennessee, decided to neutralize the Mississippi state capital of Jackson before moving on his primary target of Vicksburg. Alarmed by the situation, Confederate President Jefferson Davis had ordered General J.E. Johnston to retrieve the situation. On arrival, Johnston telegraphed, ‘I am too late’, and prepared to evacuate. General Gregg was ordered to fight a rearguard action with the 6,000 troops available. Heavy rain delayed the Union advance, and Gregg resisted stolidly until hearing evacuation was complete – he then withdrew. By midday, Grant had entered the town. Its occupation meant that rail links to Vicksburg were now severed. The loss of the state capital was a blow to southern morale; Grant’s destruction of its supplies and war industries was a more severe blow to the Confederate war effort.
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