Illinois Regiments in Grierson's Raid
(Lagrange, Tennessee to Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
(April 17 - May 2, 1863)


During the Operations against Vicksburg, Union General Ulysses S. Grant had marched his troops down the west side of the Mississippi until they were below the city's fortifications. His supporting transports and gunboats had run the gauntlet and were in position to ferry his command over to the east side of the River and swing around to attack Vicksburg from the rear. However, during the transfer across the river, Grant's troops would be vulnerable to defeat in detail if Confederate General John C. Pemberton could concentrate his troops and attack before all of Grant's forces were across.

To decieve the Confederates as to the true focus of the attack and to spread the defending forces out, Grant ordered a number of diversions, including a large Cavalry raid (Link to map, See side B). The raid was commanded by Colonel Benjamin Grierson and consisted of three Cavalry regiments (6th Illinois Cavalry, 7th Illinois Cavalry, 2nd Iowa Cavalry). The forces started south from LaGrange, Tennessee on April 17, 1863. In the first few days of the raid, Grierson sent out numerous detachments to destroy the railroads and decieve the Confederates as to his true mission. On April 20, Grierson culled out 175 troopers suffering from physical ailments and sent them back towards Lagrange. The next day, he send the 2nd Iowa Cavalry eastward to break up the railroad at West Point, Mississippi and then to return back to LaGrange. His remaining troops rode hard to the south hoping Confederates on his trail would follow the other detachments, which they did.

His troops arrived without advance warning at Newton, Mississippi on the Southern railroad 60 miles east of Jackson. His forces destroyed many miles of track, three dozen freight cars filled with ammunition and other supplies, and two locomotives, cutting off Vicksburg from support to the east. Pemberton dispatched virtually all his cavalry and 2 divisions of infantry in an attempt to locate and destroy Grierson's troopers.

As the way back north to LaGrange was now blocked by superior forces, Grierson rode south and west to attempt to join Grant. When he learned of a trap between him and Grant, he turned back east and then south. His troops re-entered Union lines at Baton Rouge, Louisiana after inflicting more damage along the way.

For a cost of only 24 casualties out of a staring force of 1700, Grierson's men in their 15-day raid destroyed significant quantities of supplies for Vicksburg as well as the Confederate capability to quickly supply the city. He also drew away significant numbers of Pemberton's troops, including almost all of his cavalry at just the time they were needed to find and stop Grant's movement to the east side of the Mississippi River.

Grierson's Raid is considered the first successful large-scale Union cavalry raid of the war and earned Grierson promotion to Brigadier General.

The Illinois regiments which took part in the Grierson's Raid are listed below. The links will take you to the regimental pages. Source: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Dyer's Compendium

Return to Civil War Battles Page  Return to Main Page

NOTICE: This material may be freely used by non-commercial entities for educational and/or research purposes as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or other presentation without the permission of The Illinois USGenWeb Project.   © 2001 The ILGenWeb Project All Rights Reserved

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional