Battle of Jackson

Vicksburg Campaign

Battle of Jackson

May 14, 1863

Historical Background:
The engagement at Raymond led Grant to change the direction of his army's march and move on Jackson, the state capital. It was Grant's intention to destroy Jackson as a rail and communications center and scatter any Confederate reinforcements which might be on the way to Vicksburg. McPherson's Corps moved north through Raymond to Clinton on May 13, while Major General William T. Sherman pushed northeast through Raymond to Mississippi Springs. To cover the march on Jackson, Major General John A. McClernand's Corps was placed in a defensive posture on a line from Raymond to Clinton.

Late in the afternoon of May 13, as the Federals were poised to strike at Jackson, a train arrived in the capital city carrying Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston. Ordered to Jackson by President Jefferson Davis, Johnston was to salvage the rapidly deteriorating situation in Mississippi. Establishing his headquarters at the Bowman House, General Johnston was apprised of troop strength and the condition of the fortifications around Jackson. He immediately wired authorities in Richmond, "I am too late." Instead of fighting for Jackson, Johnston ordered the city evacuated. Gregg was ordered to fight a delaying action to cover the evacuation.

A heavy rain fell during the night which turned the roads into mud. Advancing slowly through a torrential rain, the corps of Sherman and McPherson converged on Jackson by mid-morning of May 14. Around 9 o'clock, the lead elements of McPherson's corps were fired upon by Confederate artillery posted on the O. P. Wright farm. Quickly deploying his men into line of battle, the Union corps commander prepared to attack. Suddenly, the rain fell in sheets and threatened to ruin the ammunition of his men by soaking the powder in their cartridge-boxes. The attack was postponed until the rain stopped around 11:00 a.m. The Federals then advanced with bayonets fixed and banners unfurled. Clashing with the Confederates in a bitter hand-to-hand struggle, McPherson's men forced the Southerners back into the fortifications of Jackson.

Sherman's corps meanwhile reached Lynch Creek southwest of Jackson at 11 o'clock and was immediately fired upon by Confederate artillery posted in the open fields north of the stream. Union cannon were hurried into position and in short order drove the Confederates back into the city's defenses. The stream was bank full and Sherman's men crossed on a narrow wooden bridge. Reforming their lines, the Federals advanced at 2:00 p.m. until they were stopped by canister fire. Not wishing to expose his men to the deadly fire, Sherman sent one regiment to the right (east) in search of a weak spot in the defense line. These men reached the works and found them deserted, only a handful of state troops and civilian volunteers were left to man the guns in Sherman's front.
At 2:00 p.m., Gregg was notified that the army's supply train had left Jackson and decided to withdraw his command. The Confederates moved quickly to evacuate the city and were well out the Canton Road to the north when Union troops entered Jackson around 3 o'clock. The "Stars and Stripes" were unfurled atop the capitol by McPherson's men, symbolic of Union victory.
Confederate casualties in the battle of Jackson were not accurately reported, but estimated at 845 killed, wounded, and missing. In addition, 17 artillery pieces were taken by the Federals. Union casualties totaled 300 men of whom 42 were killed, 251 wounded, and 7 missing.

Not wishing to waste combat troops on occupation, Grant ordered Jackson neutralized militarily. The torch was applied to machine shops and factories, telegraph lines were cut, and railroad tracks destroyed. With Jackson neutralized and Johnston's force scattered to the winds, Grant turned his army west with confidence toward his objective—Vicksburg.
Source: National Park Service – Vicksburg National Military Park

Confederate Player Pre Battle Perspective:
On May 9, 1863, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston received a dispatch from the Confederate Secretary of War directing him to “proceed at once to Mississippi and take chief command of the forces in the field.” As he arrived in Jackson on the 13th, from Middle Tennessee, he learned that two army corps from the Union Army of the Tennessee—the XV, under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, and the XVII, under Maj. Gen. James Birdseye McPherson—were advancing on Jackson, intending to cut the city and the railroads off from Vicksburg. Johnston consulted with the local commander, Brig. Gen. John Gregg, and learned that only about 6,000 troops were available to defend the town. Johnston ordered the evacuation of Jackson, but Gregg was to defend Jackson until the evacuation was completed. (source: http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/abpp/battles/ms008.htm Heritage Preservation Services)

Union Pre Battle Perspective:
U.S. Grant’s goal is the capture of the confederate city of Vicksburg. To accomplish that deed, U.S. Grant has brought the Union army to the East side of the Mississippi. Having successfully established operations in Confederate territory with previous victories at Raymond and Port Gibson, Grant has now become concerned that his army could become trapped between the two rebel forces operating in the region, the force in Vicksburg to his West under command of General John C. Pemberton and the force operating to his East, now recently taken command by General Joseph E. Johnston. To counter this possibility Grant decides to turn his army East to attack Johnston’s forces in Jackson in the hopes of making Johnston’s forces ineffective.

These two goals by the opposing commanders lead us to the Battle of Jackson.

Terrain:
All woods are light woods
All Creeks are Broken
Pearl River is un-fordable except at the rail road bridge
Each Gridline represents one foot of table top
Various buildings not represented in the map drawing should be scattered amongst the streets of Jackson at the player’s discretion.
Map is designed for a 5X12 foot table. If needing to shorten the it is recommened to abbreviate beginning with the right side of the map.
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Deployment:

Union:
See map. I forgot to load the deployment map but will get it up soon. If reading this, the 17th Corp enters the map along the upper left corner. Above the point where the railroad exits the left side of the map and up to two feet from the corner along the top edge of the map. The 15th Corp enters along the top edge in a 18 inch zone centered on the far right side road.
Union forces march onto the tabletop from the edge with move, charge or formation change orders.

Confederate:
Rebel units may deploy anywhere on the table top in any formation. The can begin with any order except charge and first fire, since there are no enemy units to target.

Victory Conditions:

Confederate:
This battle is a holding action by the Confederates. The decision has already been made to evacuate Jackson. There remain important documents, records, supplies, and ammunition vital to the continuing war effort that needs to be withdrawn from the city.

To simulate these Confederate goals and objectives follow the below procedures to determine Confederate success in the scenario.

Roll 14 die 6 prior to the start of the game. The result is the amount of cargo that must be loaded on trains at the Jackson Depot. Each turn, in the Officer Casualty phase, roll 1 die 6. The result is the amount of cargo loaded onto the train that turn. The train may depart the depot at any time with a move order for the turn. The train moves in the movement phase. The train moves 1 die 6 the first turn and 2 die 6 in subsequent turns. If the engine exits the tabletop, the train has escaped. Confederates receive one point for each cargo unit that exit s the table. Confederates may destroy cargo points by moving at least two infantry regiments in contact with the depot. These regiments are in disorder and cannot fire their weapons. These regiments will destroy 1 die 6 units of cargo per turn in each officer casualty phase.

Union:
The Union goal is to damage and disrupt the Confederate forces under Johnston’s command to the greatest extent possible. The most damaging result would be to capture the supplies the Rebels need to continue their actions in the region. Additionally, Union control of the Mississippi capital would damage Rebel morale in the region.

To simulate these Union goals and objectives follow the below procedures to determine Confederate success in the scenario.

The Union captures all cargo at the depot by having at least one stand touching the depot and no Confederate stands touching the depot. The Union can stop the train by moving into contact or charging the engine. If the Union holds the train at the end of the scenario, they capture all the cargo on the train. The Union receives 1 point for each unit of cargo captured. The Union can receive five bonus points for raising the U.S. flag over the capital prior to the end of turn 15. To raise the flag, move any Union infantry unit into contact with the Mississippi State Capital. The flag goes up following a turn in which the regiment is not fired upon and does not fire its own weapons.

Scenario Special Notes:
The scenario has no prescribed turn limit. If the Confederates escape or destroy more cargo than the Union can capture the scenario ends immediately in a Confederate victory. If the Union captures the majority of the cargo the scenario ends in a Union victory. A successful flag raising by the Union forces may allow for a Union victory with slightly less than half the available freight captured, but basically the side that holds the most cargo wins.

A recommended practice for table top bookkeeping is to have some small household item represent the cargo. Matchsticks, toothpicks, BBs, or buttons would all be good examples. Roll the 14 dice at the beginning of the scenario and count out the result in your items and place them in a cup or box labeled depot. Each turn transfer your load result into another container labeled train. If the Confederates decide to use some of their infantry to destroy cargo, throw the resulting items out of the depot container and into the trash so that they are no longer available for either side’s victory condition result.

Orders of Battle:
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Union Order of Battle
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