Vicksburg National Military Park | THIRD LOUISIANA REDAN

Confederate cannon at the Third Louisiana Redan aims towards Union troops

Confederate cannon at the Third Louisiana Redan aims towards Union troops

VICKSBURG BATTLEFIELD TOUR STOP 3: THIRD LOUISIANA REDAN

Before discussing the events that took place here, let’s first define a “redan.” A redan is a triangular shaped fort with its point sticking out into the area of battle. The triangular shape allows occupying troops to fire into the flanks (far left and right sides) of an oncoming army. As with many forts at Vicksburg, 150 years of erosion has worn away the definitive shape, but if you climb to the top of the hill where the cannon exhibits are located, you can still see the forward facing point of the structure.

The point of the triangular Third Louisiana Redan at Vicksburg can still be made out

The point of the triangular Third Louisiana Redan at Vicksburg can still be made out

Today, all that remains of the forts at Vicksburg are the earthen portions, so you will only see hills of various shapes and sizes as you tour the battlefield. However, during the war the forts also had wooden elements to them that reinforced the earthen walls and created platforms that allowed soldiers to get high enough to shoot over the top of the wall and towards the enemy. An excellent example of what a fort would have looked like during the war is located in the lawn outside of the Visitor Center.

Exterior of a typical earthen fort with wood fortifications used during the Civil War

Exterior of a typical earthen fort with wood fortifications used during the Civil War

Interior of a typical earthen fort with wood fortifications used during the Civil War

Interior of a typical earthen fort with wood fortifications used during the Civil War

The Third Louisiana Redan was manned by the Third Louisiana Infantry Regiment. The fort guarded the Jackson Road, one of the routes into Vicksburg. The dirt road at the end of the paved park road that runs beside the redan is the original Jackson Road.

The original Jackson Road into Vicksburg was guarded by the Third Louisiana Redan

The original Jackson Road into Vicksburg was guarded by the Third Louisiana Redan

After two failed direct assaults on the Confederate lines (May 19 and 22, 1863), General Grant decided to lay siege to the city and wait for the Confederates to run out of ammunition and food. However, this didn’t mean sitting around and doing nothing. If his army could somehow capture one of the Confederate forts, Union soldiers could march into the city and possibly force an immediate surrender. To avoid the slaughter of his own troops, Grant’s new strategy was to dig trenches towards the Confederate forts and when close enough, dig a tunnel underneath, pack it with gunpowder, and then blow a hole in the wall so that Union troops could rush in and take control. The first trench project of the siege was aimed at the Third Louisiana Redan, starting from near the Shirley House, which can easily be seen from the redan.

Union troops were digging trenches to the redan from near the Shirley House

Union troops were digging trenches to the redan from near the Shirley House

It took two weeks for the trenches to reach the fort. Once there, a forty foot tunnel was dug underneath and packed with 2,200 pounds of black powder. Detonation occurred on June 25th, creating a crater 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep. Union troops were lined up in the trenches all the way back to the Shirley house. As soon as the smoke and debris had settled enough to fight, they rushed into the crater area only to be met with Confederate fire. Fighting went on for twenty-four hours, but the Union troops could not move forward due to encountering a second wall. Eventually, they retreated back to the Shirley House. Another tunnel was dug, and on July 1st, 1,800 pounds of gunpowder was detonated. However, no attempt to assault the fort was made. The Confederates surrendered the city on July 4th.

Plan to spend about ten minutes at the redan. Cannon are situated at the top of the fort, and tablets mark the positions of Union and Confederate troops. Don’t bother walking down Jackson Road next to the fort unless you just want to do so for historical purposes—there is nothing to see at the end. In addition to the cannons and markers are a number of memorials dedicated to officers involved in the conflict, including a large sculpture of Andrew Hickenlooper, the engineer in charge of the trenches and tunnel operations.

Andrew Hickenlooper Memorial at Vicksburg National Military Park

Andrew Hickenlooper Memorial at Vicksburg National Military Park


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Last updated on January 18, 2022
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