31st Illinois Regiment: Champion Hill (Baker’s Creek)

In March of 1863, the 31st Illinois was moved to Milken’s Bend outside of Vicksburg. General Grant had positioned his forces between the Confederate General Pemberton at the stronghold of Vicksburg, and General Joe Johnston who was positioned at Jackson, Mississippi. After forcing Johnston away from the rear of the Union army, Grant attacked Pemberton outside of Vicksburg, near Raymond, Mississippi. The battle took place at Baker’s Creek overlooking Champion’s Hill. If victorious the Union would have the Confederate forces pinned down in Vicksburg. It is here that the 31’st Illinois saw action under General John A. Logan. Before the fighting Logan ordered his men to fix bayonets and gave a heroic speech saying, “We are about to fight the battle for Vicksburg….thirty onesters remember the blood of your mammas. We must whip them here or all go under the sod together. Give ‘em hell,” (Morris p. 65) The 31st Illinois was successful on the battlefield, fighting into the night and forcing the Confederates back into the stronghold, opening up the road to Vicksburg for the Union army.

champion-hill-ms-battle-map-northern-portion-8-22-2007

Click to zoom. Map of Champion Hill battlefield, from Civil War.org. http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/championhill/maps/champion-hill-ms-battle-map-northern-portion-8-22-2007.jpg