Following the Union occupation of Jackson, Mississippi, General Joseph Johnston, overall Confederate commander in Mississippi, ordered General John Pemberton at Vicksburg to attack the Federals at Clinton.
Pemberton believed that Johnston’s plan was too dangerous and decided instead to attack the Union supply trains moving from Grand Gulf to Raymond. On May 16, 1863 Pemberton’s forces approached Champion Hill when he received another order from Johnston, repeating his former instructions.
Pemberton immediately ordered a countermarch, which unfortunately exposed his flank to Union attack. Unaware that a Union column was moving against his unprotected left flank on Champion Hill, Pemberton’s force at the cost of 3840 casualties barely escaped encirclement, retiring to a defensive position at the Big Black River. Among the Confederate casualties was General Lloyd Tilghman, killed by Union artillery.