The Battle on Champion Hill raged back and forth for hours,
earning the site a reputation as "the hill of death." As more Union
reinforcements arrived, Pemberton gave the order to retreat. With
Pemberton's army in danger of being trapped, a messenger arrived
with news that the lower Bakers Creek bridge (destroyed in recent
rains) had just been rebuilt. Pemberton directed the army there and
ordered two batteries and Gen. Lloyd Tilghman's brigade, a unit of
Loring's Division, to hold their position on the Raymond Road until all
the Confederates made it safely across. Unfortunately for Pemberton,
Loring's Division was unable to cross and never rejoined Pemberton's
The next day, portions of both armies fought again
west of Edwards along the Big Black River. There
the Confederates defended the railroad bridge
from behind earthworks, hoping to allow Loring's
Division time to cross the Big Black. Overrun by
Union troops who assaulted the position, however,
the Confederates fled across the river and burned
the bridge behind them. Pemberton's army had
narrowly escaped into the defenses of Vicksburg.
"[With] The ingenious construction of this bridge,
Major [Andrew] Hickenlooper, Chief Engineer of
General McPherson's corps, has, during this brief but
brilliant campaign, earned
for himself a most enviable
This bridge is certainly the most easily constructed,
and it is the most secure, of any impromptu bridge
known. The buoyancy of a 500-pound bale of cotton is
quite 400 pounds and serviceable for eight days."
Harper's Weekly, June 27, 1863.
Union troops rapidly replaced several bridges across the
Big Black River Bridge for their advance on Vicksburg.
Here are a cotton bale bridge and a pontoon bridge.
Cotton Bridge over the [Big] Black River
(sketch by Theodore Davis).