Fresh from the capture of the town of Jackson, General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee was closing on its primary target, the Mississippi River stronghold of Vicksburg. On the morning of 16 May, his advance division, under General Hovey, rounded a bend in the Jackson Road and was confronted by Confederate General Pemberton’s troops on the crest of Champion’s Hill. Gathering his forces, Grant ordered an assault. Charging the hill, the Union soldiers gained the summit and poured down on the crossroads below. There, they were fiercely counterattacked by General John Bowen’s Missourians and Arkansans, who managed to regain the crossroads but, under relentless pressure, were forced back. The Union was victorious; Pemberton now had to make his escape. His army’s withdrawal was defended by a stout rearguard action from General Tilghman’s brigade, in which Tilghman himself was mortally wounded.
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