Jackson County, being on the Confederate side during the American Civil War, suffered numerous incursions by Union forces. However, it was the one of April 9, 1863, which, although small by combat standards, had far-reaching import to Union military thinking. This was the first engagement on the Gulf Coast in which Black soldiers as a military unit, were not only deployed in battle, but initiated the attack.
Since 1862, Ship Island, 11 miles south of Biloxi, was under Federal control and was used to support and supply the US Navy blockading fleet off the Mississippi coast. It was garrisoned by the 2nd Regiment of Louisiana Native Guard. These were Black troops enlisted to the Union cause in Louisiana after the fall of New Orleans in April, 1862.
Col. N W. Daniels launched a raid against Pascagoula using 180 soldiers of the 2nd Native Guard with the intent of preventing Confederate reinforcements from Mobile being deployed to other sectors under attack. Slipping out from Ship Island on April 8, the soldiers were transported by the USS General Banks and rendezvoused with the USS John P Jackson, a Federal gunboat on blockade duty near Horn Island. The detachment swarmed ashore the following morning and a house-to-house fire-fight ensued with 40 troopers of the Mobile Dragoons while the gunboat Jackson
fired into the village. Three defenders were wounded, and on the Union side two soldiers were killed and five wounded. As southern reinforcements arrive the invaders withdrew in orderly fashion. However, while the Black soldiers were withdrawing across the main wharf, the USS Jackson inadvertently fired a 6-inch rifled gun at 1200 yards that killed four men and wounded five others in a "friendly fire" incident.
Both sides counted the battle as a victory: the Pascagoula defenders because they had rebuffed a Union assault, and the Federal troops because they had surprised the small garrison and gotten away with the Confederate flag from the top of the large hotel used as garrison headquarters. The 2nd Native Guard subsequently underwent a change in unit designation but continued to participate in numerous actions until 1865.
Top right: Pascagoula Beachfront at the time of the Civil War.