On Tuesday, May 19, 1863 with the envelopment of Confederate held Vicksburg complete, Ulysses Grant ordered the first, direct assault against the city’s substantial defenses. With William Tecumseh Sherman’s corps to the north or right, James McPherson’s corps in the center, and John McClernand’s corps on the left, thousands of Union troops confronted Vicksburg.
Hoping that a sudden assault would penetrate the Confederates’ defenses and force the city to capitulate, Grant ordered his forces to attack in the mid-afternoon. Sherman’s troops assaulted a Confederate stronghold called Stockade Redan but were driven back; McPherson and McClernand’s forces had even less success in attacking the Confederates.
The attacking Union forces suffered approximately one thousand casualties—enough to give Grant pause to consider the potential human cost of directly assaulting and overrunning Vicksburg’s defenses.