Battle of Champion Hill, a Virtual Tour: Assault


Champion Hill Home
Civil War Album Home
Return to Yazoo Pass - Siege of Vicksburg

Area Map


          round 10:30 a.m., The two divisions led by Alvin P. Hovey and John A. Logan began their march toward the Confederates posted on the high ground a few hundred yards to the south. Of the two divisions, Hovey's men, who had the task of taking the actual crest of Champion Hill where the Confederate artillery was located, would have the most difficult time getting to their objective. Their march would be impeded by numerous ravines, thick undergrowth, and the steep incline of Champion Hill itself. Add to that an incessant fire from Confederate cannon and rifles of Cumming's soldier on Champion Hill. Hovey's task was formidable, indeed.
          Despite the imposing Champion Hill, standing around 70 feet above the ground, Hovey's men were quite successful in gaining possession of it through the creative tactics of one of his brigade commanders, George F. McGinnis. McGinnis ordered his men to advance a little and then fall to the ground when he dropped his sword, letting the rebel rifle fire pass overhead. Using this tactic, McGinnis and Hovey's other commander James R. Slack reached the top of Champion Hill quite quickly and with surprisingly little casualties. Once on top, though, the combat grew fierce and often hand-to-hand. Hovey's men were victorious, though, and they gained the high ground of Champion Hill along with the artillery that Cumming's men had left behind. The defeated Confederates fled back a few hundred yards south of the crossroads where they would rally.
          Logan, on the other wing of the Union advance appeared to be presented with an easier objective. The ground in front of him was gentle fields with a gentle slope as it neared the ridge where Lee and Barton's men were waiting. To avoid hitting the Confederates with a frontal assault, Logan began extending his line northwestward toward Baker's Creek in an effort to turn the Confederate left flank. As his Illinois troops struck, Barton's men on the Confederate far left gave way and allowed Logan to actually take possession of the Jackson Road, briefly cutting Pemberton off from his only escape route. Lee's men on the ridge in between Barton and Cumming held their ground, preventing an Union occupation of the Jackson Road in his sector. His brigade now formed a bulge in the Confederate battle line that refused to give way.
          Had McClernand on the Middle Road known that Logan had turned the Confederate left and that Hovey had captured the crossroads, the battle of Champion Hill could have ended more quickly than it did. Instead, the Union assault came to a standstill as the fire died down, allowing the fatigued Federal soldiers a brief respite. During this lull, Pemberton was desperately calling for any reinforcements to rescue his brigades that had been mauled on Champion Hill. That rescue would come in the form of one of the fiercest counterassaults of the war.


Assault, May 16

Enlarge Area about 150 yards west of the Champion House site  Locate on Map
Enlarge Area south and east of the Champion House site  Locate on Map

View of the battlefield of Champion Hill looking south from a point 800 yards north northwest of the crest of Champion Hill.  At around 10:30, Federal Generals Hovey and Logan pressed their troops toward Confederate positions posted near the treeline in the background
Locate on Map


Enlarge Another view of the same field, this time from a point farther west.  The actual crest of Champion Hill would be hidden by the treeline near the middle of the picture.  This view is looking south from the Champion Hill Road, 1000 yards northwest of the crest of Champion Hill Locate on Map


This picture is of the Jackson Road trace as it ascends Champion Hill.  From this point, the crest would be approximately 400 yards. From this point Hovey and Cumming's troops would have had a clear view of one another.  The view is looking south   Locate on Map


View to the right of the Jackson Road trace looking west down Hovey's battlelines as they advanced. The picture was taken from the same spot as the previous photograph

Assault Page1     Page2     Page3     Page4     Page5     Page6     Next

Top of Page