Confederate General Joseph E Johnston was directed to Mississippi on May 9th 1863 to take over command of troops in the area. He arrived in Jackson, Mississippi on May 13th 1863 where he learned that there were two Union Army Corps; the XV under Major General William Tecumseh Sherman and the XVII under Major General James Birdseye McPherson moving on the city. If the Union troops were able to take Jackson they would off Vicksburg from the railroads, and take away the ability to threaten the Union flank at Vicksburg. Johnston learned from Confederate Brigadier General John Gregg that there were only 6,000 troops available to defend Jackson.
Johnston ordered an evacuation of Jackson with the removal of all supplies, but ordered Gregg to hold the town until the evacuation was completed. By 10 am on May 14th 1863 Union troops had engaged Confederate forces; they slowly pushed Gregg’s men back. In the afternoon Johnston informed Gregg the evacuation was done and he should follow. Shortly after Union troops entered Jackson where they burnt parts of the town, and cut the railroad. Union General Ulysses S Grant was traveling with Sherman’s corps and he hosted a celebration at the Bowman House. There were 286 Union casualties and 850 Confederate ones.