July 8,1863, the Surrender of Port Hudson
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 1863, the Union command began to focus attention on clearing the Mississippi of all Rebels. The major thrust of this effort was taking Vicksburg, Mississippi, the Confederate stronghold to the north of Port Hudson. In April, Ulysses S. Grant summoned Nathaniel Banks to participate in the campaign against Vicksburg.
Banks wavered at first, preferring instead to wage an independent campaign against Confederates in Louisiana. But in May, he set out to take Port Hudson, then under the command of Franklin Gardner. Banks had some 30,000 troops under his command, while Gardner possessed a force of just 3,500.
On May 21, Gardner received orders from Joseph Johnston, operating in Mississippi, to abandon the fort. But Gardner refused, and asked for reinforcements. This was a fatal mistake, and Banks soon had Gardner surrounded. For the next three weeks, Banks attempted to capture Port Hudson but failed each time.
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.