— On May 16, 1863, Union and Confederate forces clashed at the Battle of Champion Hill in Mississippi, dueling with artillery and rifle fire. Amid fierce combat, Union fighters swept across the top of Champion Hill, forcing Rebel forces into chaotic retreat before a Confederate counterattack was mustered. But stubborn Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered his forces to push back again and a Union assault was launched with fresh troops arriving on the scene. That counterattack forced the Confederates into all-out retreat toward Vicksburg, Miss. The fighting in Mississippi 150 years ago during the Civil War marked the prelude to Grant’s siege of Vicksburg, which would open days later in May 1863. Grant would ultimately force the surrender of Confederates garrisoned in heavily fortified Vicksburg later in 1863. It would mark one of the turning points of the war as Union forces wrested away full control of the Mississippi River, splitting the Confederacy and propelling Grant toward overall command of Union forces.