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Siege of Jackson, Mississippi
July 10 to 16, 1863
by Dr. Sidney Bondurant, Historian
Web Author's Notes:
Below is an excerpt from History of the 33rd Mississippi Infantry, by Dr. Sidney W. Bondurant, Mississippi Civil War Battlefield Commission; Department of Archives & History, describing the siege and capture of Jackson from the Confederate perspecitve. Posted with permission from Dr. Bondurant.


The Confederates set up to receive the expected Yankee attack. The defense line at Jackson was a rough semi-circle from the Pearl River north of Jackson out westward and then back south again to the Pearl River. Featherston's Brigade went into a relatively unfinished part of the line one mile north of Jackson. (This general area is now easily found if one goes to Jackson on Interstate 55. Just take the exit marked Fortification Street.) Gen. Sherman decided on 10 July 63 that a siege was in order rather than a frontal attack on the entrenched Confederates. There was a small-scale attack on 11 July 63 by the 2nd Michigan Infantry on Loring's position but due to confusion and the failure of other units to support, the attack was called off and the Michiganders retreated. Gen. Johnston had already decided on the 11th that he would be evacuating Jackson. He sent a telegram to Jefferson Davis advising him of the likelihood of his retreat. Gen Sherman directed his men to prepare for a siege and opened it on 12 July 63 with a one hour barrage of 3000 artillery projectiles. The men of the 33rd Mississippi settled in to enduring the siege until the 16th when Union Gen. J. G. Parks sent a forced reconnaissance against Loring's command. Gen. Edward Ferrero sent his men against the area manned by Featherston's Brigade. There was sharp firing from around a Confederate artillery battery called "The Cotton Bale Battery." Gen. Ferrero was satisfied that the position was still held in strength and recalled his troops.

On the night of the 16th Gen. Johnston ordered the retreat to begin. Featherston's Brigade slipped out of the trenches quietly and marched to the low ground east of the capital building. (This area is now the site of the state fairgrounds.) The men marched on through the night crossing Carson's Ferry on the Pearl River and on toward Brandon. After showing much dash and aggressiveness Gen. Sherman was content to let Gen. Johnston escape. Sherman had confided to another officer, "If he moves across Pearl River, and makes good speed, I will let him go." Featherston's Brigade kept marching east until they reached Forest in central Scott County on 20 July 1863. They went into camp along Futche's Creek, a sluggish small creek northeast of town on the north side of what is now called Old U.S. 80. The siege of Jackson and the subsequent retreat must have been very demoralizing to the men of the 33rd Mississippi Infantry. A review of the individual service records shows numerous entries showing "deserted" for 16 July 63.

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