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Battle of Iuka, 19 September 1862
The autumn of 1862 saw the Confederacy launch its most ambitious series of attacks on the north. The main efforts were in Maryland (ending at Antietam) and Kentucky (ending at Perryville), but a third attack was launched towards western Tennessee from Mississippi.
The Union position in western Tennessee was vulnerable because General Halleck had broken up the army that had won at Shiloh and captured Corinth. Part of it had been sent east towards Chattanooga, although it moved too slowly to prevent the invasion of Kentucky. More of it was scattered around the vast areas captured after Grant’s series of victories.
By the autumn of 1862, Halleck had been promoted to General in chief and moved to Washington, leaving Grant in charge on the northern Mississippi. As was so often the case, the Confederate command was divided, between General Stirling Price, commanding between 15,000 and 17,000 men in the Army of the West, based at Tupelo, Mississippi (south east of Corinth), and General Earl Van Dorn, with 7,000 men of the Army of West Tennessee, based to the south west of Corinth.
The two Confederate forces were coming together with the intention of attacking Corinth. On 13 September, Price captured Iuka, twenty miles south east of Corinth. Demonstrating his normal aggressive spirit, Grant decided to attack Price before Van Dorn could reach him. His plan was somewhat ambitious. He had about the same number of men as Price, and decided to split his forces in two in an attempt to trap Price in Iuka. 8,000 men under General Ord were sent directly from Corinth towards Iuka, while a slightly larger force of 9,000 under General Rosecrans were sent to the south, to attack Price from his rear.
This plan did not work. Ord was in place late on 18 September, with orders to launch his attack when he heard the sound of Rosecrans’s guns. Unfortunately, Rosecrans did not get into position until the afternoon of 19 September, and by then Price was aware of his presence. He dispatched half of his troops in an attempt to deal with Rosecrans. This was when Ord should have launched his attack, but unusual weather conditions caused an acoustic shadow, preventing the sound of Rosecrans’s guns reaching Ord on the opposite side of Iuka.
Despite this, Rosecrans was able to hold off two hours of determined Confederate attacks, inflicting more casualties than he suffered (144 killed and 598 wounded, compared to 263 and 692 on the Confederate side). Unfortunately, he failed to block all of the roads south out of Iuka, and overnight Price was able to escape. From Iuka he headed west, and joined with Van Dorn. Their combined army now numbered around 21,000 men, strong enough to move on to launch an attack on Corinth (3-4 October 1862).
Battle of Iuka, 19 September 1862 - History
Price's Confederate Army of the West engaged at Iuka amounted to 3,179 men. It was organized as follows:
- Division of Brig. Gen. Lewis Henry Little included the brigades of Cols. Elijah Gates and John D. Martin , and Brig. Gens. Louis Hébert and Martin E. Green).
- Cavalry brigade of Brig. Gen. Frank C. Armstrong .
Rosecrans's Union Army of the Mississippi fielded approximately 4,500 men, organized as follows:
- Division of Brig. Gen. David S. Stanley included the brigades of Cols. John W. Fuller and Joseph A. Mower.
- Division of Brig. Gen. Charles S. Hamilton included the brigades of Col. John B. Sanborn and Brig. Gen. Jeremiah C. Sullivan.
- Cavalry division of Col. John K. Mizner .
Edward Ord's two divisions did not participate in the main fighting at Iuka.
Touring the Battle of Iuka
The Battle of Iuka
The Battle of Iuka, fought on September 19, 1862 in northeast Mississippi, was the first of two major clashes between Union and Confederate forces associated with the advance of Confederate armies in the western theater in the fall of 1862. General Braxton Bragg, leading an invasion into Kentucky at the time, had ordered Confederate forces under General Sterling Price to prevent Union General William Rosecrans from taking his army north into Tennessee. Rosecrans had in turn been ordered by his superior, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, to move to assault Price’s army and prevent it from moving to cooperate with Bragg. Hence, as the two armies lurched towards each other in the waning days of a hot summer, both had the intent of preventing the other from being able to support wider campaigning.
In the fight that ensued, an entire wing of the Federal army, under Maj. Gen. E.O.C. Ord, was never engaged and a potentially overwhelming Federal advantage in manpower was not brought to bear. Due to wind conditions and terrain, Ord, who had been ordered to advance when he heard the armies become engaged, was not aware the battle was taking place despite being only a few miles away. Fighting got underway near the small town of Iuka in earnest in the late afternoon of Sept. 19th and raged until early evening. Despite the relatively small forces engaged (4,500 men under Union General William Rosecrans and about 3,000 under Confederate General Sterling Price), the battle is remembered as one of the more fiercely fought for its size. At the end of a day of vicious close-quarters fighting, the Federal army suffered nearly a quarter of its strength in casualties and the Confederates nearly half.
Price proceeded to move towards a rendezvous with the Confederate army under Gen. Earl Van Dorn near Corinth, and Rosecrans moved to meet their advance on the city. The stage was set for the Battle of Corinth.
Military situation Edit
As Confederate General Braxton Bragg moved north from Tennessee into Kentucky in September 1862, Union Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell pursued him from Nashville with his Army of the Ohio. Confederate forces under Van Dorn and Price in northern Mississippi were expected to advance into Middle Tennessee to support Bragg's effort, but the Confederates also needed to prevent Buell from being reinforced by Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Tennessee. Since the conclusion of the siege of Corinth that summer, Grant's army had been engaged in protecting supply lines in western Tennessee and northern Mississippi. At the Battle of Iuka on September 19, Maj. Gen. Sterling Price's Confederate Army of the West was defeated by forces under Grant's overall command, but tactically under Rosecrans, the commander of the Army of the Mississippi. (Grant's second column approaching Iuka, commanded by Maj. Gen. Edward Ord, did not participate in the battle as planned. An acoustic shadow apparently prevented Grant and Ord from hearing the sounds of the battle starting.) Price had hoped to combine his small army with Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn's Army of West Tennessee and disrupt Grant's communications, but Rosecrans struck first, causing Price to retreat from Iuka. Rosecrans's pursuit of Price was ineffectual. 
After Iuka, Grant established his headquarters at Jackson, Tennessee, a central location to communicate with his commands at Corinth and Memphis. Rosecrans returned to Corinth. Ord's three divisions of Grant's Army of the Tennessee moved to Bolivar, Tennessee, northwest of Corinth, to join with Maj. Gen. Stephen A. Hurlbut. Thus, Grant's forces in the immediate vicinity consisted of 12,000 men at Bolivar, Rosecrans's 23,000 at Corinth, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's 7,000 at Memphis, and another 6,000 as a general reserve at Jackson. 
Price's army marched to Ripley where it joined Van Dorn on September 28. Van Dorn was the senior officer and took command of the combined force, numbering about 22,000 men. They marched on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad to Pocahontas, Tennessee, on October 1. From this point they had a number of opportunities for further moves and Grant was uncertain about their intentions. When they bivouacked on October 2 at Chewalla, Grant became certain that Corinth was the target. The Confederates hoped to seize Corinth from an unexpected direction, isolating Rosecrans from reinforcements, and then sweep into Middle Tennessee. Grant sent word to Rosecrans to be prepared for an attack, at the same time directing Hurlbut to keep an eye on the enemy and strike him on the flank if a favorable opportunity offered. Despite the warning from Grant, Rosecrans was not convinced that Corinth was necessarily the target of Van Dorn's advance. He believed that the Confederate commander would not be foolhardy enough to attack the fortified town and might well instead choose to strike the Mobile and Ohio railroad and maneuver the U.S. soldiers out of their position. 
Along the north and east sides of Corinth, about two miles from the town, was a line of entrenchments, extending from the Chewalla Road on the northwest to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad on the south, that had been constructed by Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard's army before it evacuated the town in May. These lines were too extensive for Rosecrans's 23,000 men to defend, so with the approval of Grant, Rosecrans modified the lines to emphasize the defense of the town and the ammunition magazines near the junction of the two railroads. The inner line of redoubts, closer to the town, called the Halleck Line, was much more substantial. A number of formidable named batteries, guns positioned in strong earthwork defenses, were part of the inner line: Batteries Robinett, Williams, Phillips, Tannrath, and Lothrop, in the area known as College Hill.  They were connected by breastworks, and during the last four days of September these works had been strengthened, and the trees in the vicinity of the centrally placed Battery Robinett had been felled to form an abatis. Rosecrans's plan was to absorb the expected Confederate advance with a skirmish line at the old Confederate entrenchments and to then meet the bulk of the Confederate attack with his main force along the Halleck Line, about a mile from the center of town. His final stand would be made around the batteries on College Hill. His men were provided with three days' rations and 100 rounds of ammunition. Van Dorn was not aware of the strength of his opponent, who had prudently called in two reinforcing divisions from the Army of the Tennessee to deal with the difficulty of assaulting these prepared positions. 
Rosecrans's Army of the Mississippi was organized as follows: 
- Division of Brig. Gen. David S. Stanley included the brigades of Cols. John W. Fuller and Joseph A. Mower.
- Division of Brig. Gen. Charles S. Hamilton included the brigades of Brig. Gens. Napoleon B. Buford and Jeremiah C. Sullivan.
- Cavalry division of Col. John K. Mizner included the brigades of Cols. Edward Hatch and Albert L. Lee.
- A division on loan from the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Davies, included the brigades of Brig. Gens. Pleasant A. Hackleman and Richard J. Oglesby, and Col. Silas D. Baldwin.
- A second division on loan, commanded by Brig. Gen. Thomas J. McKean, included the brigades of Brig. Gen. John McArthur and Cols. John M. Oliver and Marcellus M. Crocker.
Van Dorn's combined Confederate Army of West Tennessee  was organized as follows: 
- Price's Corps, also known as the Army of the West, with two divisions commanded by Brig. Gen. Louis Hébert (brigades of Brig. Gen. Martin E. Green and Colonels Elijah Gates, W. Bruce Colbert, and John D. Martin) and Brig. Gen. Dabney H. Maury (brigades of Brig. Gens. John C. Moore and William L. Cabell, and Brig. Gen. (acting) Charles W. Phifer).
- The 1st Division of the District of the Mississippi, commanded by Maj. Gen. Mansfield Lovell, with the brigades of Brig. Gens. Albert Rust, John B. Villepigue, John S. Bowen, and a cavalry brigade commanded by Col. William H. Jackson, and Major St. L. Dupiere's Louisiana Zouave battalion.
October 3 Edit
On the morning of October 3, three of Rosecrans's divisions advanced into the old Confederate rifle pits north and northwest of town: McKean on the left, Davies in the center, and Hamilton on the right. Stanley's division was held in reserve south of town. Van Dorn began his assault at 10 a.m. with Lovell's division attacking McArthur's brigade (McKean's division, on the Union left) from three sides. Van Dorn's plan was a double envelopment, in which Lovell would open the fight, in the hope that Rosecrans would weaken his right to reinforce McKean, at which time Price would make the main assault against the U.S. right and enter the works. Lovell made a determined attack on Oliver and as soon as he became engaged Maury opened the fight with Davies's left. McArthur quickly moved four regiments to Oliver's support and at the same time Davies advanced his line to the entrenchments. These movements left a gap between Davies and McKean, through which the Confederates forced their way about 1:30 p.m., and the whole Union line fell back to within half a mile of the redoubts, leaving two pieces of artillery in the hands of the Confederates. 
During this part of the action Gen. Hackleman was killed and Gen. Oglesby (the future governor of Illinois) seriously wounded, shot through the lungs. About 3 p.m. Hamilton was ordered to change front and attack the Confederates on the left flank, but through a misunderstanding of the order and the unmasking of a force on Buford's front, so much time was lost that it was sunset before the division was in position for the movement, and it had to be abandoned. Van Dorn in his report says: "One hour more of daylight and victory would have soothed our grief for the loss of the gallant dead who sleep on that lost but not dishonored field." But one hour more of daylight would have hurled Hamilton's as-yet unengaged brigades on the Confederate's left and rear, which would in all probability have driven Van Dorn from the field and made the second day's battle unnecessary. 
So far the advantage had been with the Confederates. Rosecrans had been driven back at all points, and night found his entire army except pickets inside the redoubts. Both sides had been exhausted from the fighting. The weather had been hot (high of 94 °F) and water was scarce, causing many men to nearly faint from their exertions. During the night the Confederates slept within 600 yards of the Union works, and Van Dorn readjusted his lines for the attack the next day. He abandoned his sophisticated plans for double envelopments. Shelby Foote wrote, "His blood was up it was Rosecrans he was after, and he was after him in the harshest, most straightforward way imaginable. Today he would depend not on deception to complete the destruction begun the day before, but on the rapid point-blank fire of his guns and the naked valor of his infantry." 
Rosecrans's biographer, William M. Lamers, reported that Rosecrans was confident at the end of the first day of battle, saying "We've got them where we want them" and that some of the general's associates claimed that he was in "magnificent humor." Peter Cozzens, however, suggested that Rosecrans was "tired and bewildered, certain only he was badly outnumbered—at least three to one by his reckoning."  Steven E. Woodworth, a historian specializing in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, portrayed Rosecrans's conduct in a negative light:
Rosecrans . had not done well. He had failed to anticipate the enemy's action, put little more than half his troops into the battle, and called on his men to fight on ground they could not possibly hold. He had sent a series of confusing and unrealistic orders to his division commanders and had done nothing to coordinate their activities, while he personally remained safely back in Corinth. The movements of the army that day had had nothing to do with any plan of his to develop the enemy or make a fighting withdrawal. The troops and their officers had simply held on as best as they could. 
This map of the Battle of Iuka depicts the May 19, 1862, positions of the Union forces in blue and Confederate in red. The 8th Wisconsin Infantry, 14th Wisconsin Infantry, and 16th Wisconsin Infantry regiments and the 8th Wisconsin Light Artillery and 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery batteries were present at Iuka but saw little or no action. View the original source document: WHI 90879
Location: Iuka, Mississippi (Google Map)
Campaign: Iuka and Corinth Operations
In September 1862, Confederate leaders moved 15,000 troops northward from the Deep South into Tennessee. On September 14, they captured a Union supply depot at Iuka, Mississippi, a small town 20 miles southeast of Corinth. It was the easternmost point that the western armies of the Union had reached. The Confederates seized food, weapons, supplies, and 13,000 rounds of ammunition.
Union leaders planned a three-pronged assault to recapture Iuka and its valuable supplies. On September 19 they executed the plan, but only one force arrived in time to attack the enemy. It nevertheless pushed enemy forces out of the town after one day of heavy fighting. Afterward, the Confederates regrouped, joined with reinforcements, and prepared to attack nearby Corinth two weeks later.
The 8th, 14th, and 16th Wisconsin Infantry regiments and the 8th and 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery Batteries were present at Iuka but saw little or no action.
Most of the fighting was done by a Union division commanded by General Charles S. Hamilton of Fond du Lac. A graduate of West Point, Hamilton had been quickly promoted from colonel of the 3rd Wisconsin Infantry to a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army. At the Battle of Iuka, his horse was shot from under him and his sword shattered by enemy fire but he retained his composure and command throughout the fiercest combat.
Links to Learn More
Read More About the Battle of Iuka
View Original Documents
[Source: Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields (Washington, 1993) Estabrook, C. Records and Sketches of Military Organizations (Madison, 1914) Love, W. Wisconsin in the War of the Rebellion (Madison, 1866).
Iuka was founded in 1857 and is the county seat of Tishomingo County. Iuka is built on the site of a Chickasaw Indian village that is thought to have been subordinate to the settlement at Underwood Village. Iuka is named after Chief Iuka, pronounced eye-you-ka, which is actually a contraction for the longer name of Ish-ta-ki- yu-ka -tubbe. The Chief was an endorser for the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek, dated October 20, 1832. Further information on the treaty can be found at – http://digital.library.okstate.edu/kappler/vol2/treaties/chi0362.htm .
Iuka was founded by David Hubbard, a wagon train scout and is the county seat of Tishomingo County, MS. Tishomingo County is named for one of the last full-blooded Chickasaw Chiefs, Chief Tishominko. There are conflicting accounts of Chief Tishomingo’s death. One account states Tishomingo died on the Trail of Tears while another shows his death date as May 5, 1838, Fort Coffee Le Flore County Oklahoma, USA
Woodall Mountain located 5 miles southwest of Iuka is the only state high point that was subject to a battle during the Civil War. The Battle of Iuka was on September 19, 1862. Woodall Mountain was renamed in 1887 in honor of Tishomingo Sheriff Zephaniah H. Woodall. Woodall Mountain is the highest point in Mississippi.
Iuka is rich with history, steeped in culture. There is much to do and see in Iuka. There are several historic homes from the Civil War period and before still standing today. Visit the Old Tishomingo County Courthouse Museum, Cappleman’s Antiques, Mineral Springs Park and so much more. Iuka has much to offer tourists and residents alike.
Battle of Iuka, 19 September 1862 - History
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|3rd Louisiana Infantry |
3rd Texas Cavalry Dismounted
4th Minnesota Infantry
10th Iowa 2
11th Ohio Battery 2 3
12th Wisconsin Battery
37th Mississippi Infantry
Battle of Iuka 150th Mural
Brinkley Home 2
Confederate Left Flank
Confederate Mass Grave 2
Daniel Gibson CSA Grave
|Dunrobin House 2 |
General Lewis Henry Little Death Site
General Little's Headquarters
General Sterling Price
General Ulysses Grant's Headquarters
General William Rosecrans' Headquarters
Hospital Site 2
John Durell CSA Grave
Main Union Line
|Painted Lady |
Shady Grove Cemetery
Twin Magnolias 2 3
UDC Confederate Monument
Union Left Flank
United Methodist Church 2
Unknown Confederate Soldiers 2 3
Wartime Road Trace
William Woodall Barnes CSA Grave
W.S. Brown Home
|Photos this page courtesy of Tim Kent|
(December 2009) Enlarge Here an old road forked to the north off the Jacinto Road. The 10th Iowa went off on this road about an eighth of a mile and held the extreme Union left flank on a ridge there
(December 2009) Enlarge S ix guns of the 11th Ohio Battery were located here . They would have been facing the camera
The 11th Ohio Battery changed hands several times during the battle. The fighting here was considered among some of the fiercest during the entire war
Battle of Iuka
Bloody clash of Sept. 19, 1862 resulted from attempt of Gen. Wm. Rosencrans, U.S.A., to expel Gen. Sterling Price, C.S.A., from N.E. Mississippi. In 2 hours one-third of men engaged were casualties.
Erected by Mississippi Historical Commission.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi State Historical Marker Program series list. A significant historical date for this entry is September 19, 1873.
Location. 34° 47.758′ N, 88° 12.5′ W. Marker is in Iuka, Mississippi, in Tishomingo County. Marker is on Veterans Memorial Drive (State Highway 25), on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Iuka MS 38852, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The 11th Ohio Battery (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line) Brig. Gen. Henry Little (approx. 0.6 miles away) Patriot William Gray (approx. 0.7 miles away) Iuka Normal (approx. 1.2 miles away) "Twin Magnolias" (approx. 1.4 miles away) Confederate Heroes Monument (approx. 1.4 miles away) Old Tishomingo County Courthouse (approx. 1.4 miles away) Iuka (approx. 1.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Iuka.
The Battle of Iuka
September 19, 1862 – Federal forces attacked Confederates in northern Mississippi but could not prevent them from escaping to join with another force.
By the 19th, Major General Sterling Price’s 14,000 Confederates were at Iuka, east of Corinth, Mississippi. Knowing that General E.O.C. Ord’s 8,000 Federals were approaching from the northwest, Price prepared to move his force south to join the Confederate army led by Major General Earl Van Dorn. However, Price did not know that another Federal force of 9,000 men under Major General William S. Rosecrans was moving from the southwest to attack his left flank.
One of Rosecrans’s divisions got lost along the way, so Rosecrans spent the morning waiting for those troops to countermarch and join the rest of his men. The Federals were to advance on the two roads leading to Iuka, but Rosecrans chose to only use the Jacinto road and keep his force united in case of a Confederate attack. The Federals encountered Confederate pickets about a mile and a half south of Iuka. They deployed across the road and drove the Confederates north toward the main army.
When Price learned of the attack from the south, he guessed that Ord’s presence to the north was just a diversion and pulled his Confederates from that sector to turn toward Rosecrans. Price instructed his division commander and close friend, Brigadier General Henry Little, to bring up the rest of his men. Before Little could comply, he was killed by a shot to the head. Price “wept over him as if a son” before he was replaced by General Louis Hebert.
Price quickly composed himself and directed Hebert to counterattack. The Federals, unable to fully deploy due to the rough terrain, were driven back. The 11th Ohio Battery suffered the worst casualty percentage of any artillery battery in the war, losing 54 (19 killed and 35 wounded) of its 80 men. The Confederates captured nine guns.
Rosecrans sent a dispatch to Major General Ulysses S. Grant, the department commander, reporting that a battle was underway, but it did not arrive at Grant’s headquarters until the next day. Meanwhile, the Federals established a new defensive position that the Confederates could not break. As the sun set, Price disengaged and fell back.
Ord was supposed to attack upon hearing the sound of battle to the south. He advanced along the northern road to within four miles of Iuka, but an atmospheric phenomenon called an “acoustic shadow” prevented him from hearing the fighting. Thus, he never ordered his assault, and just a small Confederate cavalry unit held him at bay.
Rosecrans sustained 790 casualties (141 killed, 613 wounded, and 36 missing), while Price lost 1,516 (263 killed, 692 wounded, and 561 captured or missing). The Federals claimed victory because they drove the enemy from the field and inflicted nearly twice as many casualties as they incurred.
Price planned to renew the fight the next day, but Hebert and his other division commander, Brigadier General Dabney H. Maury, argued that Ord might get involved, which could be disastrous for the Confederates. Price relented and led his men south on the road that Rosecrans had opted not to use. Rosecrans inexplicably left it unguarded, enabling Price to get away with his supply train in front and a large rear guard to face any pursuers.
Before Grant found out about Price’s escape, he submitted a complimentary official report: “I cannot speak too highly of the energy and skill displayed by General Rosecrans in the attack, and of the endurance of the troops under him. General Ord’s command showed untiring zeal, but the direction taken by the enemy prevented them from taking the active part they desired.”
When Rosecrans learned that the Confederates were gone the next day, he tried pursuing them but could not due to the muddy road and harsh terrain. Price may have been defeated, but he got away to join forces with Van Dorn as planned. This caused resentment among the Federal high command. Grant later conceded that Rosecrans had correctly used the one road instead of both, but he questioned Rosecrans’s failure to guard the unused road. Rosecrans questioned Ord’s claim that he could not hear the fighting.
Ultimately, the Federals had succeeded in preventing Price from joining General Braxton Bragg’s Confederates in Kentucky, whether he had planned to do so or not. Grant quickly turned his attention to Corinth, fearing the Confederates might try retaking this important railroad town. Ord arrived at Corinth on the 21st, while Grant pulled Federals from Bolivar and Jackson in Tennessee to reinforce the town’s defenses.
Price joined with Van Dorn at Ripley a week later, but the eight-day march had turned Price’s army into a disorganized mob. Meanwhile, Van Dorn reported: “Field returns showed my strength to be about 22,000. Rosecrans at Corinth had about 15,000, with about 8,000 additional men at outposts from 12 to 15 miles distant.” There were also 6,000 Federals at Memphis, 8,000 at Bolivar, and 3,000 at Jackson, Tennessee.
All told, the Federals could muster 40,000 men to defend Corinth, but Van Dorn wanted to try retaking the town nonetheless. To succeed, he needed the elements of surprise and speed. He resolved to head toward Pocahontas, hoping to trick the Federals into thinking he intended to attack Bolivar, 40 miles northwest of Corinth.
Van Dorn’s subordinate, General Mansfield Lovell, opposed this plan and suggested that the Confederates simply attack Bolivar, which would force the Federals to abandon Corinth to save their supply line. Price wanted to wait for the upcoming release of 15,000 exchanged Confederate prisoners at Jackson, Mississippi. Price argued that Van Dorn could not hold Corinth if these men did not rejoin the ranks.
Van Dorn overruled both Lovell and Price, ordering them to prepare three days’ rations for their men. This new Confederate Army of the West began marching out of Ripley the next day, and Corinth was the ultimate destination.
Opening of Iuka-Corinth Campaign
After the Siege of Corinth in May 1862, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck was promoted to be general in chief of the Union Army and Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant replaced him in command at Corinth, Mississippi. This command was smaller than Halleck's, however, because the Army of the Ohio under Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell now operated as a separate command, leaving Grant command of only his own Army of the Tennessee and Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans's Army of the Mississippi, together about 100,000 men. Since the Confederates evacuated Corinth that summer, Grant's forces had been engaged in protecting supply lines in western Tennessee and northern Mississippi, with Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's division in Memphis, Maj. Gen. Edward O. C. Ord's division guarding the Union supply battle at Corinth, and Rosecrans's army holding the railroad from Corinth east to Iuka. As Confederate General Braxton Bragg moved north from Tennessee into Kentucky in September 1862, Buell pursued him from Nashville. The Confederates needed to prevent Buell from being reinforced by Grant's command. Α]
Confederate Maj. Gen. Sterling Price had been ordered by Bragg to move his Army of the West from Tupelo toward Nashville, Tennessee, in conjunction with Bragg's Kentucky offensive. On September 13, his army reached the town of Iuka in northeastern Mississippi, about 20 miles east of Corinth. It was a small Union supply depot, the easternmost outpost that Grant had established on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Price's cavalry skirmished with pickets posted by the small Union garrison stationed there. On September 14, before dawn, the Union commander, Col. Robert C. Murphy of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry, set fire to the supplies of the depot and marched his 2,000-man brigade back to Corinth. The Confederates dashed in and doused the flames, reaping a large collection of valuable supplies. Rosecrans relieved Murphy and ordered him to be court-martialed. Β]
Price's army settled in Iuka and awaited the arrival of Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn's Army of West Tennessee, approximately 7,000 men. The two generals intended to unite and attack Grant's lines of communication in western Tennessee, which would prevent Buell's reinforcement if Grant reacted the way they expected, or might allow them to follow Bragg and support his Northern invasion if Grant acted more passively. Γ]
Grant did not wait to be attacked, approving a plan to converge on Price with two columns before Van Dorn, four days march to the southwest, could reinforce him. Grant sent Ord with three Army of the Tennessee divisions (about 8,000 men) along the Memphis and Charleston Railroad to move to Burnsville, take the roads to the north of the railroad and move upon Iuka from the northwest. He also ordered Rosecrans's army on a coordinated move along the Mobile and Ohio Railroad that would bring two divisions (9,000 men) swinging into Iuka from the southwest, closing the escape route for Price's army, while the remainder of that army protected Corinth against any threat from Van Dorn. The relatively complex plan for the two-pronged assault was actually Rosecrans's, who had previously been stationed in Iuka and felt familiar with the area. Grant moved with Ord's headquarters and had little tactical control over Rosecrans during the battle. Δ]
Aftermath [ edit | edit source ]
During the night both Rosecrans and Ord deployed their forces in the expectation of a renewal of the engagement at daylight, but the Confederate forces had withdrawn. Price had been planning this move since September 18 and Rosecrans's attack merely delayed his departure. The Confederates used the Fulton Road, which the Union army had not blocked, protecting its rear with a heavy rearguard and meeting up with Van Dorn's army in Ripley five days later. The Confederates combined with Van Dorn for the Second Battle of Corinth, October 3. Stanley shelled the town, driving out a number of stragglers. He and Rosecrans's cavalry pushed on in pursuit of Price for 15 miles, but owing to the exhausted condition of his troops, his column was outrun and he gave up the pursuit. ⎗]
I cannot speak too highly of the energy and skill displayed by General Rosecrans in the attack, and of the endurance of the troops under him. General Ord's command showed untiring zeal, but the direction taken by the enemy prevented them from taking the active part they desired.
If it was the object of the enemy to make their way into Kentucky, they were defeated in that if to hold their position until Van Dorn could come up on the southwest of Corinth and make a simultaneous attack, they were defeated in that. Our only defeat was in not capturing the enemy army or destroying it as I had hoped to do. It was a part of General Hamilton's command that did the fighting, directed entirely by that cool and deserving officer.
The Union casualties at Iuka were 790 (144 killed, 598 wounded, 40 captured or missing) the Confederates lost 1,516 (263 killed, 692 wounded, 561 captured or missing). ΐ] The most senior casualty was Confederate general Little, who was struck in the eye by a bullet while accompanying Price. ⎚] Among the ordnance stores abandoned by the Confederates were 1,629 stand of arms, a large stock of quartermaster and commissary stores, and 13,000 rounds of ammunition. ⎛] Grant had partially accomplished his objective—Price was not able to link up with Bragg in Kentucky, but Rosecrans had not been able to destroy the Confederate army or prevent it from linking up with Van Dorn and threatening the critical railroad junction at Corinth. ⎜]
The Battle of Iuka marked the beginning of a long professional enmity between Rosecrans and Grant. The Northern press gave accounts very favorable to Rosecrans at Grant's expense. Some rumors circulated that the reason Ord's column did not attack in conjunction with Rosecrans was not that the battle was inaudible, but that Grant was drunk and incompetent. Grant's first report of the battle was highly complimentary to Rosecrans, but his second, written after Rosecrans had published his own report, took a markedly negative turn. His third statement was in his Personal Memoir, where he wrote "I was disappointed at the result of the battle of Iuka—but I had so high an opinion of General Rosecrans but I found no fault at the time." ⎝]