Union General Ulysses S. Grant advances toward the Mississippi capital of Jackson during his bold and daring drive to take Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. In April, Grant had moved his troops down the Mississippi River and around the Vicksburg defenses, landing south of the city before moving east into the interior of Mississippi. He intended to approach Vicksburg from the east to avoid the strong Confederate defenses on the riverfront.
Grant, however, had to contend with two Rebel forces. John C. Pemberton had an army defending Vicksburg, and Joseph Johnston was mustering troops in Jackson, 40 miles east of Vicksburg. Grant's advance placed him between the two Southern commands. He planned to strike Johnston in Jackson, defeat him, and then focus on Vicksburg when the threat to his rear was eliminated.
On May 12, Grant's troops encountered a Rebel force at Raymond, Mississippi, which they easily defeated. The following day, he divided his force at Raymond, just 15 miles from Jackson, and sent two corps under William T. Sherman and James McPherson to drive the Confederates under Johnston out of Jackson, which they did by May 14. Grant also sent John McClernand's corps west to close in on Pemberton in Vicksburg. A few days later, on May 16, Grant defeated Pemberton at Champion's Hill and drove the Rebels back into Vicksburg. With the threat from the east neutralized, Grant sealed Vicksburg shut and laid siege to the city. Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, and the Confederacy was severed in two.