Army of the Mississippi (USA) (1863) (January 1863)

Updated: February 07, 2017

Unofficially organized and discontinued in January 1863, the second Army of the Mississippi easily overran Brigadier-General Thomas J. Churchill's Confederate garrison at Fort Hindman during the Battle of Arkansas Post (January 9-11, 1863).

On October 16, 1862, the U.S. War Department issued General Orders No. 159, placing Major General Ulysses S. Grant in command of the newly-created Department of the Tennessee. On October 26, one day after assuming his new position, Grant issued General Orders No. 2, Department of the Tennessee, stating, "The army heretofore known as the 'Army of the Mississippi,' being now divided and in different Departments, will be discontinued as a separate Army." A little more than two months later, a second Army of the Mississippi would briefly materialize under the leadership of Major General John A. McClernand.

McClernand was a Democratic politician from Southern Illinois who raised a brigade of volunteers at the beginning of the Civil War and served under Grant during the early Union victories in Tennessee. McClernand was also an ambitious man, who was well connected with fellow Illinoisan and President Abraham Lincoln. Chafing under Grant's leadership, McClernand visited Lincoln in Washington, D.C., in October 1862 to lobby for an independent command. Wishing to maintain the support of Illinois Democrats, Lincoln acquiesced to McClernand's appeals. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton authorized McClernand to return to Illinois to raise troops for an assault on the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi. On December 18, 1862, Stanton issued General Orders No. 210, placing McClernand in charge of the newly created 13th Army Corps.

Before McClernand finished his recruiting assignment, Grant began his own Vicksburg Campaign. In December, Grant ordered William T. Sherman to lead over 30,000 Federal soldiers down the Mississippi River, disembark near the mouth of the Yazoo River, and to attack Vicksburg from the north. Fewer than 6,000 Confederate defenders easily repulsed Sherman's assault at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou (December 26 to 29, 1862), forcing the Federals to withdraw.

In early January, McClernand arrived at the mouth of the Yazoo River with the corps he had recruited. Stanton authorized McClernand (who was senior to Sherman) to combine his 13th Corps with Sherman's 15th Corps and to initiate an assault on Vicksburg. McClernand unofficially renamed his combined force the Army of the Mississippi and proceeded to attack Fort Hindman, near Arkansas Post, rather than to assault Vicksburg, as he had been charged to do. McClernand's 33,000-man army easily overran Brigadier-General Thomas J. Churchill's 5,500-man garrison at Fort Hindman during the Battle of Arkansas Post (January 9 to 11, 1863). The Union victory contributed little, if anything, toward the success of the Vicksburg Campaign, but it did eliminate a minor impediment to Union shipping on the Mississippi River.

Flushed with success and eager for glory, McClernand announced an expedition against the Arkansas capital at Little Rock. Grant, however, was unimpressed with McClernand's victory and considered it a diversion from the real task at hand. On January 30, 1863, Grant personally took control of Union forces operating in the vicinity of Vicksburg. He countermanded McClernand's plans to attack Little Rock and ordered him to rejoin the Union campaign against Vicksburg. Grant went on to relegate McClernand to his former position as commander of the 13th Corps, thus ending the unofficial existence of the second Army of the Mississippi.

Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiments that served with the second Army of the Mississippi:

115th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

16th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (3 years)

42nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

48th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

54th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

57th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

58th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

76th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

83rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

96th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

120th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

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"Army of the Mississippi (USA) (1863)," Ohio Civil War Central, 2017, Ohio Civil War Central. 23 Jun 2017 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1321>

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"Army of the Mississippi (USA) (1863)." (2017) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved June 23, 2017, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1321

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