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The Battle of Fort Pemberton

March 11, 1863 in Fort Pemberton (Yazoo River), Mississippi, Yazoo Pass Expedition

Union Forces Commanded by:
Lt. Commander Watson Smith
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
4,500 - - -

Confederate Forces Commanded by:
Maj. Gen. William W. Loring
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
1,500 - - -

**Missing and Captured
Conclusion: Confederate Victory


The Yazoo Pass Expedition occured in Mississippi during February and March 1863, as part of an effort by General Grant to capture Vicksburg. The plan was for a joint Army-Navy force to go through the Yazoo Pass, about 300 miles north of Vicksburg, and proceed via the Coldwater, Tallahatchie, and Yazoo Rivers to reach high ground east of Vicksburg. The Navy provided two iron-clads, six tin-clads, and two rams, which were joined by a division of 4,000 men under the command of General L.F. Ross.

The expedition cleared the Coldwater River on 6 March, and reached the junction of the Tallahatchie and Yazoo Rivers on the 10th. Here the Confederates had constructed Fort Pemberton, and sunk the Star of the West in the river channel as an obstruction. The fortifications were composed of seven tiers of cotton bales and eight feet of earth outside, with several heavy guns.

Chillicothe and Baron DeKalb, with the other ships of the Yazoo Pass Expedition behind, engaged Fort Pemberton. However, the river was so narrow that only two gunboats could attack at any one time and the area around the fort was so waterlogged that troops could not be landed. The expedition ultimately had to retire without achieving its purpose.

Ultimately, the Federal Naval guns were unable to inflict much damage on the fort, and the infantry found little firm ground on which to mount an attack. The expedition withdrew on 5 April, leaving its mission incomplete.

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