The Coker House is the only remaining structure on grounds
where the pivotal Battle of Champion Hill was fought on May
16, 1863. Located on the southern margin of the battlefield,
the house sustained fire from both Union and Confederate
artillery as the battle lines shifted throughout the day.
This house, like others in the area, served as a field hospital
after the battle.
Artillery was positioned in front of this house much of the
day. In the morning, Confederate artillery along Cotton
Ridge (the name of the subtle high ground where you are
standing) held off Union soldiers advancing from the east.
Late in the afternoon, the Confederate battery withdrew
and a Union battery took its place, aiming at the new
Confederate position on the next ridge to the west.
The artillery duel directed to and from the Coker House
was peripheral to the main Battle of Champion Hill,
centered two miles north. However, at the end of the battle,
the engagement here became critical as it provided cover
for the Confederate army's withdrawal.
"...for over an hour we loaded our guns and killed
each other as fast as we could.
"I've been in ... greater battles than Champion Hill,
but only once did I see two lines of blue and gray stand
close together and
fire into each other's faces for an hour
and a half."
Capt. Sam Byers, 5th Iowa Infantry
"One cannon shot went straight through the
house... In the room nearest the battery was a piano,
standing diagonally across the room, with a corner
jut in the right place in the path of the ball. Of course
it was knocked off, but the tones were all left... "
Sgt. Thomas B. Marshall, 83d Ohio Infantry
Top right: (below) Illustration of the Battle of Champion Hill and (left) illustration of the action at Bakers Creek, Harper's Weekly.
Bottom left: Theo Davis, journalist/artist for Harper's Weekly, saved these sketches (above right) and published them thirty years after the war.
Bottom right: Portions of General Grant's army moved west toward Vicksburg along the Raymond-Edwards road, which passes in front of the Coker House.