On May 9, 1863, General 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 Major General William T. Sherman, and the XVII, under Major General James Birdseye McPherson—were advancing on Jackson, intending to cut the city and the railroads off from Vicksburg.
Johnston consulted with the local commander, Brigadier General 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.
By 10:00 am, both Union army corps were near Jackson and had engaged the enemy. Rain, Confederate resistance, and poor defenses prevented heavy fighting until around 11:00 am, when Union forces attacked in numbers and slowly but surely pushed the enemy back.
In mid-afternoon, Johnston informed Gregg that the evacuation was complete and that he should disengage and follow. Soon after, the Yankees entered Jackson and had a celebration, hosted by Major General U.S. Grant who had been travelling with General Sherman's corps, in the Bowman House.
They then burned part of the town and cut the railroad connections with Vicksburg. Johnston's evacuation of Jackson was a tragedy because he could, by late on the 14th, have had 11,000 troops at his disposal and by the morning of the 15th, another 4,000.
The fall of the former Mississippi state capital was a blow to Confederate morale.
Result(s): Union victory
Location: Hinds County and Jackson County
Campaign: Grant's Operations against Vicksburg (1863) next battle in campaign previous battle in campaign
Date(s): May 14, 1863
Principal Commanders: Major General Ulysses S. Grant [US]; General Joseph E. Johnston and Brigadier General John Gregg [CS]
Forces Engaged: Army of the Tennessee [US]; Jackson Garrison [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 1,136 total (US 286; CS 850)