hen Stephen D. Lee learned of the
presence of the bulk of the Union army bearing down the Jackson Road toward
the crossroads, he immediately ordered his brigade to deploy about 800 yards
to the north on what was the crest of Champion Hill, the highest point of
the battlefield. From this vantage point, Confederates had a commanding view
of the Jackson Road all the way to the Champion House, which had by this
time been converted into the Federal headquarters. Also, the hill provided a
sweeping view of the landscape north of the Confederate line which, if
Yankee troops were to deploy, they would always be vulnerable to the
Southerners on the high ground. Division commander Carter L. Stevenson
strengthened Lee's position with the brigade of
Alfred Cumming, which he deployed on Champion Hill. Lee shifted his brigade
to the right along a slight wooded ridge which ran roughly to the northwest.
Finally, another brigade in Stevenson's division,
that of Seth M. Barton, was placed on ridge to Lee's
left. Barton's Georgians constituted the extreme left of the Confederate
army at Champion Hill.
By this time, the Confederate battle line stretched some four miles
and was in the shape of a number "7"
with Loring's division on the right along the
Raymond Road, Bowen's division in the center, and Stevenson's division on
the left. The Southerners held good defensive positions along all three
roads Raymond, Middle, and Jackson yet they were severely overextended,
especially on the right.
Meanwhile, on the Union side, the two divisions that the Confederate
scouts spotted near the Champion home were those of John A. Logan and
Alexander P. Hovey. Although both were tactically under command of James B.
McPherson during the battle of Champion Hill, Hovey was actually part of
McClernand's corps. Hovey arrived on the scene
first and noticed the concentration of Confederates along a ridge to the
south. He immediately deployed his division
astride the Jackson Road. Logan, who came up shortly after Hovey, deployed
to Hovey's right in the gentle fields west of the
Jackson Road. Grant was on site by this time, and he set up headquarters in
the vacant Champion house, the family having departed earlier that morning.
He immediately demanded Hovey and Logan to advance, and he made sure his
wagon trains pulled off to the side of the road to provide the last division
of Marcellus M. Crocker an unimpeded march to the battlefield. With battle
flags unfurled, two Federal divisions began their march against the
Confederates posted on Champion Hill and the adjacent ridge around 10:30.
The battle of Champion Hill had commenced in earnest.