Pennsylvania Grand Review

Honoring African American Patriots 1865 / 2010

USCT at the Battle of Milliken’s Bend (June 7, 1863)

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The Battle of Milliken’s Bend on June 7, 1863 was only a small part of the Vicksburg Campaign, but this engagement represented another important moment for African American participation in the Civil War. The three African American regiments, which had just been organized during the previous month, played an important part in the Confederate forces defeat. Victory, however, came at a high cost for those three regiments – almost 8% of the men who participated were killed. Yet as historian Richard Lowe observes, this battle “loom[ed] large in the overall history of the Civil War.” Even Confederates recognized the significance. “The obstinacy with which they fought…open the eyes of the Confederacy to the consequences” of the decision to allow African Americans to fight, as Confederate General John G. Walker recalled. Reports about the battle were published in newspapers across the country. While “at first [they] gave way,” the Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper made sure to note in their short summary that “the colored troops…[saw] their wounded massacred, rallied, and after one of the most deadly encounters in the war, drove the rebels back.” A letter published in Harper’s Weekly offered a similar account: “It was a genuine bayonet charge, a hand-to-hand fight, that has never occurred to any extent during this prolonged conflict.”

(Courtesy of the House Divided Project – “Louisiana,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, June 27, 1863, p. 210: 2-3 ; “The Fight at Milliken’s Bend,” Harper’s Weekly, July 4, 1863, p. 427: 4.)

See a slideshow of images related to the Battle of Milliken’s Bend

Posted in US Colored Troops Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 at 5:39 pm.

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