's forces in Mississippi
from a junction with Buell
's in Tennessee
; how at Iuka
we had been attacked by Rosecrantz
; how we had repulsed him, capturing nine cannon and many prisoners, and had next morning returned to our proper base upon the railroad with the purpose to join our forces to Van Dorn
's and make a combined attack on Corinth
This attack had for some time occupied Van Dorn
Several weeks before General Price
moved upon Iuka
, General Van Dorn
had sent a staff-officer, Colonel Lomax
(since Major-General Lomax
), to invite and urge General Price
that they should combine their forces in an attack upon Corinth
The plan was wise while it was bold, and characteristic of Van Dorn
's aggressive temper.
The enemy occupied West Tennessee
and the Memphis and Charleston railroad at Memphis
with garrisons aggregating 42,000 men, and was preparing with extraordinary energy to reduce Vicksburg
by a combined attack of land and naval forces.
To prevent this, his expulsion from West Tennessee
was a military necessity, while it was our obvious defensive policy to force him across the Ohio
, occupy Columbus
, and fortify the Cumberland
and Tennessee rivers
This policy induced General Bragg
to move his army into Kentucky
, and Van Dorn
felt that he could force the enemy out of West Tennessee
and contribute to its success.
was the enemy's strongest and most salient point.
Its capture would decide the fate of West Tennessee
; and the combined forces of Price
and Van Dorn
in the month of August could have captured Corinth
, and have cleared West Tennessee
of all hostile forces.
When Van Dorn
first invited General Price
's co-operation in this enterprise, his command embraced two large divisions under Breckenridge
, numbering about 12,000 infantry, with over 1,000 cavalry under Jackson
; and he expected to receive about 5,000 veteran infantry, just exchanged from the Fort Donelson
prisoners, in time for the movement.
This force, added to General Price
's army, would have given an effective active force of over 30,000 veteran troops; and it is most unfortunate that General Price
could not then have consented to unite with General Van Dorn
in a movement so auspicious of great results.
But as I have told you, Price
was constrained to decline all part in that enterprise until he had made his movement to luka, after which Price
's forces were greatly reduced by the results of the battle, while Van Dorn
's were diminished by the detachment of Breckenridge
with 6,000 men, and by