July 8

This Day in History

Civil War

Jul 8, 1863:

Confederates surrender Port Hudson, Louisiana

Port Hudson, the Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River in Louisiana, falls to Nathaniel Banks' Union force. Less than a week after the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the Confederate garrison's surrender at Port Hudson cleared another obstacle for the Federals on the Mississippi River.

In late 1862, Banks was given orders to clear the river as far north as possible. He seemed hesitant, however, even with David Farragut's naval forces at his disposal. After much prodding, Banks finally began to move in February 1863. But by March, Farragut had failed to move past Port Hudson; he lost one ship and the others retreated back down the river. So Banks delayed action against Port Hudson until May. At first unsure whether to join Ulysses S. Grant's force up at Vicksburg or attack Port Hudson, Banks opted to attack the fort. On May 27, Federal cannons and riverboats opened fire on Port Hudson, but Banks directed a poorly coordinated attack against the stronghold, which was defended by General Franklin Gardner and a force of 3,500 men.

Although the tiny Confederate force was able to hold off the Union assault in May, Banks had Port Hudson surrounded. The garrison held out through June, but word of Vicksburg's surrender convinced Gardner that further resistance was futile.

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