Before dawn on June 7, 1863, a Confederate brigade of Texans under the command of Brig. Gen. Henry McCulloch attacked a small Federal outpost at Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana, not far from Vicksburg.
The Union defenders were a brigade of raw recruits, composed of former slaves officered by whites. A veteran half-regiment of all-white Iowa infantry had just arrived as support.
What ensued was one of the most severe – and most overlooked – small engagements of the Civil War. Despite their lack of training, the black soldiers put up stubborn resistance, but were quickly overwhelmed. Two gunboats on the Mississippi River shelled the oncoming Confederates, halting their advance, and the Rebels withdrew about midday.
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