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"Grant's crown of immortality was won, and the jewel that shone most brightly in it was set
Major S. H. M. Byers, Fifth Iowa Infantry
"THE HILL OF DEATH" read by Edwin C. Bearss, Historian Emeritus, National Park Service
Lula's" Headstone Set
October 22, 1925 — October 7, 2006
Touching and Thrilling Scene When the Venerable President of the Confederacy Laid the Cornerstone at the Women’s Monument
When the good King Cyrus made it possible for the people of Israel to go back home after long captivity there was great rejoicing, and on arrival immediate effort was put forth to get the temple rebuilt. As the time came around to begin work there was jubilation and shouting, but above the noise of the glad throng came the sound of weeping and the cry of many in sorrow. The old men were grieved for the magnificence of the former temple, for the time that once was in the glory of Israel.
Today, when the throngs that had gathered from the country around surged up the steps of the Capitol to greet and honor the President of all the people, a good man and a strong man and the shouts of the populace arose in cheers for the head of the nation, many a grizzled countenance wore a look of sorrow and down numberless furrowed cheeks ran the salty tears. They recalled the day when they gathered to welcome the man who had stood at the head of the Confederacy, when after the failure of the Lost Cause had gone by twenty odd years, Jefferson Davis, sick and feeble, left his comfortable Mississippi home to lay the cornerstone of the monument built by the efforts of the good women of the South in memory of the noble men who sacrificed life and fortune on the altar of the Southern Confederacy.
97th Illinois Infantry Volunteers
The battle of Champion Hill, Mississippi was fought May 16, 1863 on Mrs. Champion’s farm near Edward station, Mississippi. The Lord was good to us that night. Just before dark a bunch of hogs ran through our company and we got one for Company A so we had something to eat. This was the 16th day on five day rations and we were beginning to feel a little bit slim. I have Mrs. Champions picture.
That night the Rebels fell back about seven miles to Black River Bridge where they had more fortifications on the east side of Black River. Where they built the railroad bridge over the river, they had to go way back to start so the grade would not be too steep. It was a very long bridge built up on trussel [sic] work with a plank floor laid on it for wagons.
Sketch of the temporary "Cotton Bale Pontoon Bridge"
97th Illinois Infantry Volunteers
"This Unnatural War"
The night after the Battle of Jackson, the 97th Illinois bivouacked in mud and rain and foraged enough to eat from the frightened citizens of Jackson. Afterwards they went into the city and viewed the State-house and other public buildings.
“On May 15 our army “changed front,” and marched back through Clinton towards Vicksburg, and bivouacked near Bear Creek. The next day we marched four miles and encountered the enemy in force at Champion Hills. Our regiment ran about a mile under a burning sun to get into position, and threw out skirmishers to protect the right flank of the army. We immediately advanced with the division [Logan] to the support of General Hovey who was being very hard pressed by the overwhelming force of the enemy. We quickly got into the thickest of the fight and opened fire.
72nd Illinois Infantry Volunteers
May 16. Started at four a.m. Reached Raymond by ten o'clock. The churches were full of the wounded rebels and our men, for there had been quite a fight here, as well as at Port Gibson. We had cleaned the rebels out and our men were in the best of spirits. While resting here, heard firing in the distance. Started at quick time ; men were drawn up in line of battle about five miles from Raymond, across a road, but the enemy had gone around us. Orders came to move forward in a hurry. Met some brigades resting on the road, but General Wilson of Grant's staff hurried us forward across fields and arrived at Champion's Hill just as the enemy fled. We were pushed forward to the front and slept on the field of battle. Dead rebels and Union soldiers were lying all around us. The enemy had fled across the Big Black River. Our victory had been complete, captured over two thousand men, seventeen pieces of artillery and a number of battle flags. Marched twenty-five miles today.
By Rebecca Blackwell Drake
Matilda Champion at age 77 years
Mary Elizabeth Champion was the first child born to Sid and Matilda Champion of Champion Hill. She was born in 1855 and was followed by three brothers in the ensuing years: Wallace Montgomery, William Balfour; and Sid Champion Jr. Mary was only six years old when her father enlisted with the 28th Mississippi Cavalry and left for Vicksburg where his regiment was assigned to protect the river city.
The war took an enormous toll on the Champion family. They lost most of their possessions, including their home and most of their slaves. In July of 1863, after the family home was burned, Matilda took the children to a rural site in Rankin County where she and the children lived until the end of the war. Matilda referred to the temporary home as her refuge home.
By Bertha Lewis
A Memorial Poem Read at the Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Champion Hill
For almost half a century, Bertha Lewis has felt the ghost of the soldiers who fought on the land she calls home. Home for Bertha is Champion Hill where Blue met Gray on May 16, 1863, in a pivotal battle that turned the tide for the Union Army. Her poem “I Was There: The Battle of Champion Hill” was written for the Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Champion Hill. Bertha's desire was to honor those who fought and died and their ancestors who received honorary medallions in their memory.
Ed Shelnut, actor and performer, read “I Was There: The Battle of Champion Hill” at the Sesquicentennial event. Ed is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London and a former member of the Screen Actors Guild. He has appeared in three feature films and numerous radio & TV shows. Ed is presently an instructor at the Mississippi School for the Blind.
By Rebecca Blackwell Drake
On May 18th, 2013, over 600 visitors arrived at Champion Hill to be a part of the 150th Anniversary Commemoration. The visitors came from 22 states and more than 200 of those present were descendants of those who fought in the battle.
The Champion Hill Road leading from Bolton to the battlefield set the stage for those who had never visited the historic site. Sections of the Old Jackson-Vicksburg Road, Grant’s 1863 pathway to Champion Hill was visible nearby. Magnolia trees were in full bloom, just as they were on May 16, 1863, when the battle was fought. Union soldiers were taken with the magnolia trees, describing them as white flowers whose blooms were the size of a hat. The picturesque sunken road was draped with arching tree limbs, forming a sight almost comparable to that of Oak Alley in Louisiana.
May 18, 2013
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Battle of Champion Hill
May 18, 2013
Medallions are now available for purchase by the public.
Plain Medallions ~ $20
Medallions in presentation boxes or on plastic presentation stands ~ $25
Send a check payable to the Champion Heritage Foundation,
Rebecca B. Drake
P.O. Box 336
Raymond, MS 39154
The Cross Roads
Old Jackson Road
The Hill of Death
Original House Site and Historic Marker
Family Cemetery and Memorabilia
Margie Bearss Memorial
$50 per person (minimum of 2) Call 601-316-4894
The Rebel Sister of
By Rebecca B. Drake & Sue B. Moore
Darwina's Diary: A
View of Champion Hill ~ 1865
The Civil War Letters of Sid and Matilda Champion
Copyright (c) James and Rebecca Drake