On June 7, 1863, black troops fought a vicious battle to defend the Union supply base at Milliken's Bend, 15 miles northwest of here. Their victory proved black troops could fight well and helped ensure that the siege at Vicksburg would end in Union victory four weeks later.
At Milliken's Bend the Confederates met black troops who had been in the service only days or weeks. In brutal hand-to-hand combat, the Confederates drove the Federals back. But the black troops, aided by the white 23rd Iowa, held on long enough for Union gunboats to arrive; a naval bombardment in turn drove the Southerners off. Nearly forty percent of the black troops were killed or wounded - many of them by bayonets or clubbed muskets.
"It is impossible for men to show greater gallantry than the Negro Troops in this fight"
- Brig. Gen. Elias S. Dennis, USA
More than 180,000 black troops - most of them under the command of white offices - fought for the Union. Milliken's Bend was the second engagement of the war in which United States Colored Troops fought.
The Confederate plan: relieve Vicksburg by crippling Union supply facilities in Louisiana. Southern brigades attacked both Milliken's Bend and Young's Point. At both places they were defeated.