Port Hudson was a key Confederate-held river port on the Mississippi River north of Baton Rouge and south of Vicksburg on a sharp bend in the river just below the mouth of the Red River where the two rivers join. After New Orleans fell in late April 1862, Port Hudson became crucial to the Confederacy as a means of getting supplies to the army from Texas as the Red River was the main route. The river bluffs at Vicksburg, Mississippi had already been fortified, but the Mississippi River needed to be secured south of the the Red River for the supply line to continue to operate. The high bluffs on the river bend beside the town of Port Hudson were the perfect site for a river fortification as it was the first high ground on the river north of Baton Rouge heading up to Vicksburg. The Union assault began on May 23, 1863, with 30,000 – 40,000 troops, under Major General Nathaniel P. Banks against less than 7000 Confederate defenders under Major General Franklin Gardner. The coming days would prove to be some of the bloodiest and most intense fighting of the entire war. One noteworthy event that occurred during the battle was on May 27th when African-American troops for the 1st time ever participated in combat in the Union Army. The 1st and 3rd Louisiana Native Guards along with several other Union Regiments were ordered to charge the heavily fortified Confederate stronghold. Although the attack was repulsed, the African-American troops showed that they could hold their own in a fight. After the siege, the garrison at Port Hudson became a recruiting center for African-American troops. The Confederates managed to hold onto the fortifications for more than six weeks inflicting approximately 5000 casualties against the Union attackers while roughly another 5000 men died of disease. The Confederates suffered around 1000 casualties including 250 dead from disease. As the siege and loss of life continued to drag on, the Confederates were nearly out of food and ammunition with no chance of being reinforced. They were forced to eat mules, horses, and rats to survive. After the fall of Vicksburg and word reached General Gardner that Vicksburg had surrendered, it was clear that the situation was hopeless and nothing could be gained by continuing to fight for the defense of Port Hudson. So terms of surrender were negotiated and after 48 days of bitter fighting and thousands of casualties, the Union army entered Port Hudson on July 9, 1863, just five days after the surrender at Vicksburg. The siege of Port Hudson is the longest in American military history.
This particular Confederate battle flag was captured after the surrender although there are no records to show which regiment it came from. It was clearly from a Trans-Mississippi unit because of the reversed colors of the saltire in the canton. The original flag is in the possession of a private collector today.
This is a reproduction of the battle flag captured at Port Hudson and has a vintage/aged finish. It is designed to look like the original flag appears today. Not as it would have appeared in 1863. The actual dimensions and materials are not exactly the same as the original. The artwork is visible on both sides of the flag.
- One solid piece of printed, hemmed fabric
- Lightweight, 100-denier polyester that will fly nicely in the slightest breeze.
- Bright colors
- 4 rows of stitching on the fly end to prevent premature fraying
- Reinforced header with brass grommets
- Flag size: 3′ x 5′