After midnight the following despatch was received:headquarters District West Tennessee, Burnsville, Miss., September 18, 1862.General Rosecrans: General Ross' command is at this place, McArthur's division is north of the road, two miles to the rear, and Davis' division south of the road, north. I sent forward two regiments of infantry, with cavalry, by the road north of the railroad toward Iuka, with instructions for them to bivouac for the night at a point which was designated, about four miles from here, if not interrupted, and have the cavalry feel where the enemy are. Before they reached the point on the road (you will see it on the map — the road north of the railroad) they met what was supposed to be Armstrong's cavalry. The rebel cavalry were forced back, and I sent instructions there to have them stop for the nightwhere they thought they could safely hold. In the morning troops will advance from here at 4 1/2 A. M. An anonymous despatch, just received, states that Price, Magruder, and Breckinridge have a force of sixty thousand between luka and Tupelo. This, I have no doubt, is the understanding of citizens, but I very much doubt this information being correct. Your reconnoissances prove that there is but little force south of Corinth for a long distance, and no great force between Bay Spring and the railroad. Make as rapid an advance as you can, and let us do to-morrow all we can. It may be necessary to fall back the day following. I look upon the showing of a cavalry force so near us as an indication of a retreat, and they a force to cover it.U. S. Grant, Major-General.
Receiving this despatch, as I did, late at night, and when I supposed these troops were far on their way toward Iuka, and had made my plans accordingly, caused some disappointment, and made a change of plans necessary. I immediately despatched General Ord, giving him the substance of the above, and directions not to move on the enemy until Rosecrans arrived, or he should hear firing to the south of Iuka. Of this change General Rosecrans was promptly informed by despatch, sent with his return messenger. During the day General Ord returned to my headquarters at Iuka, and in consultation we both agreed that it would be impossible for General Rosecrans to get his troops up in time to make an attack that day. The General was instructed, however, to move forward, driving in the enemy's advance guards, but not to bring on an engagement unless he should hear firing. At night another despatch was received from General Rosecrans, dated from Barnett's, about eight miles from Iuka, written at 12:40 P. M., stating that the head of the column had arrived there at 12 M. Owing to the density of the forests, and the difficulties of passing the small streams and bottoms, all communications between General Rosecrans and myself had to pass far around-near Jacinto-even after he had got on the road leading north. For this reason his communication was not received until after the engagement. I did not hear of the engagement, however, until the next day, although the following despatch had been promptly forwarded:Headquarters encampment, September 18, 1862.General: Your despatch received. General Stanley's division arrived after dark, having been detained by falling in the rear of Ross through fault of guide. Our cavalry six miles this side of Barnett's; Hamilton's First brigade eight, Second brigade nine miles this side; Stanley's near Davenport's Mills. We shall move as early as practicable — say 4 1/2 A. M. This will give twenty miles march for Stanley to Iuka. Shall not, therefore, be in before one or two o'clock, but when we come in will endeavor to do it strongly.W. S. Rosecrans, Brigadier-General, U. S. A.
This despatch was received at 8:35 A. M., on the twentieth, and the following immediately sent:headquarters army of the Mississippi, Two miles South of Iuka, Sept. 19, 1862, 10 1/2 P. M.General: We met the enemy in just about this point. The engagement lasted several hours. We have lost two or three pieces of artillery. Firing was very heavy. You must attack in the morning, and in force. The ground is horrid-unknown to us, and no room for development; couldn't use our artillery at all; fired but few shots. Push in on to them until we can have time to do something. We will try to get a position on our right which will take Iuka.W. S. Rosecrans, Brigadier-General, U. S. A.
The statement that the engagement had commenced again in the morning was on the strength of hearing artillery. General Ord, hearing the same, however, pushed on with all possible despatch, without awaiting orders. Two of my staff--Colonels Dickey and Logan--had gone around to where General Rosecrans was, and were with him during the early part of the engagement. Returning in the dark, and endeavoring to cut off some of the distance, they became lost and entangled in the woods, and remained out over night, arriving at headquartersBurnsville, Sept. 20, 1862, 8:35 A. M.General Ord: Get your troops up and attack as soon as possible. Rosecrans had two hours fighting last night, and now this morning again, and unless you can create a diversion in his favor he may find his hands full. Hurry up your troops — all possible.U. S. Grant, Major-General,