previous next

Doc. 126.-the battle of Iuka, Miss.

Official report of General Grant.

Iuka, Miss., September 20, 1862.
To Major-General Halleck, General-in-Chief:
General Rosecrans, with Stanley and Hamilton's divisions of Missouri cavalry, attacked Gen. Price south of this village, about two hours before dark yesterday, and had a sharp fight until night closed in. General Ord was to the north with an armed force of about five thousand men, and had some skirmishing with rebel pickets. This morning the fight was resumed by General Rosecrans, who was nearest to the town, but it was found that the enemy had been evacuating during the night, going south. Hamilton and Stanley, with the cavalry, are in full pursuit. This will, no doubt, break up the enemy, and possibly force them to abandon much of their artillery. The loss on either side in killed and wounded is from four to five hundred.

The enemy's loss in arms, tents, etc., will be large. We have about two hundred and fifty prisoners. I have reliable information that it was Price's intention to move over east of Tennessee. In this he has been thwarted. Among the enemy's loss are, Gen. Little killed, and Gen. Whitfield wounded. I cannot speak too highly of the energy and skill displayed by Gen. Rosecrans in the attack, and of the endurance of the troops under him. Gen. Ord's command showed untiring zeal, but the direction taken by the enemy prevented them taking the active part they desired. Price's force was about fifteen thousand.

U. S. Grant, Major-General.

General Hamilton's official report.

headquarters Third division, army of the Mississippi, September 23, 1862.
Colonel H. G. Kennett, Chief of Staff:
sir: I have the honor to report that my division, the Eleventh brigade leading, marched from Jacinto on the morning of the nineteenth instant, to attack the enemy at Iuka. One half-mile west of Barnett's, the advanced pickets of the enemy were first encountered in a deep ravine. A battalion of the Third Michigan cavalry, by dismounting a body of skirmishers, soon drove the enemy from his cover. Soon after passing Barnett's, the cavalry were thrown to the rear, and a battalion of the Fifth Iowa deployed as skirmishers. From this time our advance was warmly contested The enemy's sharp-shooters occupied every position of defence, making the last five miles of the march a steady contest, a constant skirmish. At Miss Moore's house, four miles from the battleground, the action became quite hot. Lieutenant Schramm, of the Benton Hussars, one of my bodyguard, was mortally wounded, and a number of our skirmishers killed or wounded. The enemy was steadily driven before us, and with constant loss.

When within two miles of the battle-field, the battalion of the Fifth Iowa skirmishers was relieved by an equal force of the Twenty-sixth Missouri, and the, forward movement of the column pressed.

When the head of the column had reached a point on the brow of the hill at the cross-road, two miles from Iuka, it was halted for the purpose of reconnoitring, and the line of skirmishers pushed rapidly forward. This line had not advanced more than three hundred yards when they came upon the enemy drawn up in great force, and occupying a strong position along a deep ravine running transversely with the main road, and behind the crest of the hill.

I was in position just behind the line of skirmishers, and saw at a glance that the moment for action had come.

The skirmishers were driven back on the head of the column, and the attack by the enemy immediately begun. The ground occupied by the head of my column was on the brow of a densely wooded hill, falling off abruptly to the right and left. The underbrush and timber was too thick to admit of deployments, and the most that could be done was to take a position across the road by marching the leading regiments into position by a flank movement. This was done under a heavy fire of musketry, grape, canister, and shell.

The Eleventh Ohio battery was, with difficulty, got into position on the crest of the hill, where it could command the road in front of us. The Fifth Iowa, under the brave Matthias, being the leading regiment, was first in position in the woods to the right of the road, with its left resting [481] near the battery. The Twenty-sixth Missouri, under the resolute Boomer, immediately took position on the right of the Fifth Iowa.

The next regiment in the column, the Forty-eighth Indiana, under its brave Colonel, Eddy; took position on the left of the road, a little in advance of the battery, and with its left thrown forward, so as to cover the open field on their left with their fire. This was the position when the battle opened on our side. I directed each of these regiments into positions myself, and they were taken by the troops, under a heavy fire, with the steadiness of veterans determined to conquer. The battle thus opened with but three regiments in position. The rebels were commanded by Major-General Sterling Price in person, who had arrayed against us no less than eighteen regiments. I saw the importance of holding the position we had assumed, and gave each regimental commander orders to hold every inch of ground, at every hazard. As the remaining regiments of the First brigade came up the hill, I threw them into position to protect the flanks of our little line of battle. The Fourth Minnesota, under Captain Le Gro, and the Sixteenth Iowa, under Colonel Chambers, the former on the left and the latter on the right of the line, in rear, and “en echelon.” The battle at this time had become terrific. The enemy, in dense masses, bore down in front. The ground admitted of no more forces being brought into action in front, and our position must be held, or the enemy once forcing it, his overwhelming masses would have passed over the hill and fallen on our unformed column in the rear. Brig.-Gen. Sullivan having reached the rear of the battle-ground with the head of his brigade, placed one of his regiments — the Tenth Iowa, under the gallant Perczel —— with a section of the Twelfth Wisconsin battery, on the road across the ravine and open field on our extreme left; and, finding no more of his forces could be brought into immediate action, placed them in position in reserve, and came gallantly to the front, asking to be of service. I immediately placed him in charge of the right of the line in front, with instructions to hold the ground, and see that the right flank was not turned by the heavy force of the enemy moving in that direction. Col. Sanborn, in command of the First brigade, most gallantly held the left in position, until, under a desolating carnage of musketry and canister, the brave Eddy was cut down, and his regiment, borne down by five times their numbers, fell back in some disorder on the Eightieth Ohio, under Lieut.-Col. Bartelson. The falling back of the Forty-eighth exposed the battery. As the masses of the enemy advanced, the battery opened with canister at short-range, mowing down the rebels by scores, until, with every officer killed or wounded, and nearly every man and horse killed or disabled, it fell an easy prey. But this success was short-lived. The hero Sullivan rallied a portion of the right wing, and with a bravery better characterized as audacity, drove the rebels back to cover. Again they rallied, and again the battery fell into their hands; but with the wavering fortunes of this desperate fight, the battery again fell into our hands, and, with three of its guns spiked, and the carriages cut and splintered with balls, is again ready to meet the foe. While these events were transpiring along the road, the brave Gen. Stanley had come to the front, and joining his personal exertions to mine, the regiments that had fallen into disorder were rallied, and held in position to the close of the battle. One of Stanley's regiments, the Eleventh Missouri, coming up, fresh and eager for action, was pushed into the right, where, uniting its efforts with the Fifth Iowa and Twenty-sixth Missouri, it made a most gallant fight, and aided much, first in holding our ground against the enemy, and afterward in driving him back in confusion to the cover of the ravine, from which the attack was begun. An attempt to turn my left flank, by a heavy force of the enemy moving up the open field and ravine on my left, was most signally repulsed by Col. Perczel, with the Tenth Iowa and a section of Immell's battery. So bravely was this attempt repulsed, that the enemy made no more attempts in that direction.

After this repulse the Fourth Minnesota was withdrawn from the left, and ordered to report to Gen. Sullivan on the right, where it did good service to the close of the action. This completed the movements in the front, and the battle was fought and won in this position. The Thirty-ninth Ohio, of Stanley's division, coming up during the heat of the contest, could not be placed in position to take an active part, owing to the want of ground, and was placed in reserve near the log church. From five P. M., until darkness prevented distinguishing friend from foe, the battle was fought along the road and to the right of it, by the Fifth Iowa, the Twenty-sixth and Eleventh Missouri, with a bravery which scarcely admits of a parallel. The enemy, confident in the heavy forces they had deployed, pushed on with frantic desperation, but they were met by a greater heroism, and though often, rallied and driven to the charge, they were as often met and hurled back to their cover. Against this little front the fiercest of the battle, was waged. Col. Boomer was cut down by a terrible wounds but his regiment held their ground undismayed. The Fifth Iowa, under its brave and accomplished Matthias, held their ground against four times their number, making three desperate charges with the bayonet, driving back the foe in disorder each time — until, with every cartridge exhausted, it fell back slowly and sullenly, making every step a battle-ground and every charge a victory. Night, alone closed the contest, and left us in possession of the field so bravely won. For a detailed report of the operations of each regiment, I respectfully refer you to the reports of subordinate commanders herewith submitted.

I am indebted to able and cheerful assistance rendered by Brig-General Stanley, whose division, with the exception of one regiment, the Eleventh Missouri, being in the rear, could not take an active part. General Stanley had come to the front and tendered his services.

To the commanders of brigades, Brig.-General [482] J. C. Sullivan, whose personal exertions and bravery contributed very largely to our success, and to Col. J. B. Sanborn, who in this, his first battle, exhibited a coolness and bravery under fire worthy a veteran, I am greatly indebted.

These commanders, Stanley, Sullivan, and Sanborn, I cordially commend to the favorable notice of the Government.

The reports of brigade and regimental commanders do justice to those who were conspicuous in this daring contest. I cordially unite in all they have said, and were it in my power would do personal honor in this report to every hero.

To my personal staff I am under the deepest obligations. Captain R. M. Sawyer, A. A.G.; Capt. D. P. Allen, A. C.S.; Lieuts. E. F. Pierce and W. F. Wheeler, Aids-de-Camp, bore my orders through the thickest of the battle; intelligent, capable, and brave, their gallant conduct is worthy of, and will receive, the honor rightly their due.

My Division Surgeon, J. E. Lynch, was unceasing in his efforts in his own department, and to his energy and skill the greatest credit is due for the prompt and efficient care of the wounded.

Captain Allen, in conveying orders along the line, came upon one of the enemy's regiments, but by his coolness and courage escaped from a murderous fire, though with a terrible wound.

Lieutenant Wheeler received a slight but honorable wound while bearing orders in the face of the enemy. Captain Borcherdt, commanding my personal escort, did excellent and gallant service in rallying men to their standards. He was seriously hurt by the fall of his horse.

Much of the time I was without a single officer of my staff, and was forced to send messages by orderlies. Two of them, Corporals White and Hill, did excellent service, and I beg to commend them to the notice of the General Commanding.

To the commanders of batteries, Lieutenant Sears and Lieut. Immell, the highest praise is due for unyielding bravery and the skill with which their pieces were handled. Lieut. Sears was severely wounded, and left his guns only when his officers, men, and horses were nearly all killed and disabled, and when the battery was fairly in the enemy's hands.

In closing this report, I shall be permitted to embody this summary: On the nineteenth inst., my division marched nineteen miles, fought a desperate battle, with seven regiments against a rebel force under General Price of not less than eighteen regiments, won a glorious victory, lying at night on their arms, on the field their valor had won, and the following morning chased the fleeing enemy for fifteen miles, until worn out with labor and fighting, and famished for want of food, the pursuit was discontinued only when the powers of nature were exhausted.

The records of war may well be challenged to produce a victory under circumstances and odds so desperate. No words of mine can add lustre to the brilliancy of this victory, and no award of praise given to those who were miles away from the battle-field, will detract from the glory justly due to those heroes who won this audacious victory.

The fearful list of killed and wounded in the few regiments actively engaged, shows with what heroism and desperation this fight was won.

I say boldly, that a force of not more than two thousand eight hundred men met and conquered a rebel force of eleven thousand, on a field chosen by Price, and a position naturally very strong and with its every advantage inuring to the enemy. A list of casualties is herewith submitted.

It is known that two hundred and sixty-three rebel bodies were buried on and near the field, all their severely wounded, numbering over four hundred, fell into our hands; the number of able-bodied prisoners who fell into our hands is large. I report, with the highest satisfaction, but twenty-six missing from my command. Over eight hundred stand of arms were gathered on the battle-field, mostly of improved patterns, showing that the rebels are not wanting in this essential means of making war.

The dead of my division number one hundred and thirty-five; the wounded number five hundred and twenty-seven; the missing number twenty-six; total, six hundred and eighty-eight.

Respectfully submitted,

C. S. Hamilton, Brigadier-General Commanding Third Division.

note:--Staff and escort of Brigadier-General Hamilton: Wounded, four officers; killed, one private. The General's horse was shot under him.

Order of General Rosecrans.

headquarters army of the Mississippi, Corinth, Miss., September 27, 1862.
General orders, No. 180.

The General Commanding has foreborne to notice in orders the facts and results of the battle of Iuka, until he should have before him the reports of all the commanders who participated in the action.

brothers in arms: You may well be proud of the battle of Iuka. On the eighteenth you concentrated at Jacinto; on the nineteenth you marched twenty miles, driving in the rebel outposts for the last eight; reached the front of Price's army, advantageously posted in unknown woods, and opened the action by four P. M.

On a narrow front, intersected by ravines and covered with dense undergrowth, with a single battery, Hamilton's division went into action against the combined rebel hosts. On that unequal ground, which permitted the enemy to outnumber them three to one, they fought a glorious battle, mowing down the rebel hordes until night closing in, they rested on their arms on the battleground, from which the enemy retired during the night, leaving us masters of the field.

The General Commanding bears cheerful testimony to the fiery alacrity with which the troops of Stanley's division moved up, cheering, to support, when called for, the Third division, and took their places to give them an opportunity to replenish their ammunition; and to the magnificent [483] fighting of the Eleventh Missouri, under the gallant Mower.

To all the regiments who participated in the fight, he presents congratulations on their bravery and good conduct. He deems it an especial duty to signalize the Forty-eighth Indiana, which, posted on the left, held its ground until the brave Eddy fell, and a whole brigade of Texans came in through a ravine on the little band, and even then only yielded a hundred yards until relieved.

The Sixteenth Iowa, amid the roar of battle, the rush of wounded artillery-horses, the charge of a rebel brigade and a storm of grape, canister, and musketry, stood like a rock, holding the centre, while the glorious Fifth Iowa, under the brave and distinguished Matthias, sustained by Boomer with part of his noble little Twenty-sixth Missouri, bore the thrice-repeated charges and cross-fires of the rebel left and centre with a valor and determination seldom equalled, never excelled by the most veteran soldiery.

The Tenth Iowa, under Col. Perczel, deserves honorable mention for covering our left flank from the assault of the Texan Legion. Sands's Elevventh Ohio battery, under Lieutenant Sears, was served with unequalled bravery, under circumstances of danger and exposure such as rarely, perhaps never, have fallen to the lot of a single battery during the war.

The Thirty ninth Ohio and Forty-seventh Illinois, who went into position at the close of the fight, and held it during the night, deserve honorable mention for the spirit they displayed in the performance of their duty.

The General Commanding regrets that he must mention the conduct of the Seventeenth Iowa, whose disgraceful stampeding forms a melancholy exception to the general good courage of the troops. He doubts not that there are a good many officers and men in that regiment whose cheeks burn with shame and indignation at the part the regiment acted, and he looks to them and to all its members on the first opportunity, by conspicuous gallantry, to wipe out the stain on their fair fame.

To the brave and gallant Hamilton, who formed and maintained his division under the galling fire from the rebel front, having his horse shot under him in the action — to the veteran and heroic Sullivan, young in years but old in fight; Col. Sanborn, commanding the leading brigade in his maiden battle; Brig.-Gen. D. S. Stanley, indefatigable soldier, ably aiding the advance division; to their staff-officers as well as to the regiments which have been mentioned in this order, the General Commanding tenders individually his heartfelt thanks and congratulations. Their gallantry and good conduct commands his respect, and has added a page to the claims they have on the gratitude of a great people now struggling to maintain national freedom and integrity against an unhallowed war in favor of caste and despotism.

To Col. Miezner, Chief of the cavalry division, and to the officers and men of his command, the General Commanding here publicly tenders his acknowledgments. For courage, efficiency, and for incessant and successful combats, he does not believe they have any superiors. In our advance on Iuka, and during the action, they ably performed their duty. Col. Hatch fought and whipped the rebels at Peyton's Mills on the nineteenth, pursued the retreating rebel column on the twentieth, harassed their rear, and captured a large number of arms. During the action five privates of the Third Michigan cavalry, beyond our extreme right, opened fire, captured a rebel stand of colors, a captain and lieutenant, sent in the colors that night, alone held their prisoners during the night and brought them in next morning.

The unexpected accident which alone prevented us from cutting off the retreat and capturing Price and his army, only shows how much success depends on Him in whose hands are the accidents as well as the laws of life.

Brave companions in arms! Be always prepared for action, firm, united, and disciplined. The day of peace from the hands of God, will soon dawn, when we shall return to our happy homes, thanking Him who gives both courage and victory.

By command of

Major-General W. S. Rosecrans. H. G. Kennett, Lieut.-Col. and Chief of Staff.

Captain Brown's narrative.

army of the Mississippi, camp of the Twenty-Sixth regiment Missouri Vols., near Jacinto, Miss., September 26, 1862.
I am a Cincinnatian, although I was appointed and commissioned as Captain in the United States volunteer service from Missouri, over a year ago, when the State was on the verge of secession. Allow me to relate a little of my experience on the late battle-field at Iuka.

It had been known as early as the tenth day of September, that Sterling Price was marching with a greatly superior force upon our little army encamped near Jacinto. We received orders to strike tents, load the wagons with all company and private, property, with the exception of a light marching outfit, and the trains were ordered to Corinth. Since that date our army has been living entirely in the open air, ready to march at a moment's notice.

On the seventeenth day of September a general order came to all the regiments along the line to move on the following morning at four o'clock A. M., toward Iuka, where Price had concentrated his forces. At the appointed time the regiments of the Third division, army of the Mississippi, were marching through a drenching rain and an exceedingly muddy road, toward the point designated.

Our command halted at noon, on the road about fourteen miles north-east of Iuka, threw out pickets, and remained on the ground all night, in order to give Gen. Ord time to approach the town on the road leading north, at the same time our little army under command of General Rosecrans, made the advance on the road running south.

On the nineteenth instant our army was early [484] upon the march. Skirmishers were thrown out from the Fifth Iowa regiment, which came upon the pickets of the enemy about seven miles south of Iuka. As the pickets were driven in we advanced. At a white house on the right of the road, a large force of pickets collected, and for some time kept up a sharp fire, severely wounding several of our cavalry scouts. They were, however, soon forced to leave their position and a sumptuous dinner prepared by the proprietor of the house. To punish him for giving shelter, aid, and comfort to the enemy, his house was ordered to be sacked and burned to the ground.

At this point, the right wing of the Twenty-sixth Missouri regiment was thrown out as skirmishers, to relieve those of the Fifth Iowa regiment. It was not until about four o'clock P. M. that our skirmishers came upon the main body of the enemy drawn up in line of battle to a frightful depth. This fact was reported to Gen. Rosecrans. The Eleventh Ohio battery, under command of Lieutenant Sears, of Cincinnati, was halted upon the road. The Fifth Iowa had filed past it, and was taking a position on the right of the road in line of battle. The Twenty-sixth was just filing past in two ranks, when a rebel battery, concealed by the trees and thick brush, opened upon us with canister from the left of the road. Our battery was immediately put in position on the right of the road near a small unoccupied house, the Fifth Iowa supporting the right, and the Forty-eighth Indiana the left. The left wing of the Twenty-sixth Missouri regiment, of which my company composed the extreme left, was posted immediately in the rear of the right wing of the battery, and the extreme left of the Fifth Iowa. Some of the caissons were in the rear of my company. The Eleventh Missouri was posted in our rear, and the Sixteenth Iowa in the rear of the Forty-eighth Indiana, as a reserve. A slight ravine headed up toward the battery, from an open field, some distance on the right. Our four companies lay upon the opposite side of this ravine, from the battery.

While these dispositions were being made, the rebels kept up a severe fire of canister from their battery, which raked the sassafras bushes above our heads, and wounded several of the battery-horses in our immediate front. The battle had already become intensely exciting. The Eleventh Ohio battery opened upon the rebels, who in turn came on to the charge with deafening cheers. Simultaneously they opened fire of musketry upon the battery, the left wing of the Fifth Iowa, and the Forty-eighth Indiana. Their line of battle must have been several regiments deep, as volley followed volley in rapid succession. It was now clearly perceived that the rebels had massed upon the battery with the determination of taking it at whatever cost of blood.

In a few moments the Forty-eighth Indiana gave way in confusion, and their position on the left of the battery was at once occupied by the rebels in mass. At the same time, the left of the Fifth Iowa was cut down, almost to a man, and fell back a few paces. The four companies of the left wing of the Twenty-sixth Missouri regimen were ordered up to occupy the position in front, between the battery and the right wing of the Fifth Iowa regiment. We received orders to “commence firing” when a sheet of flame leaped from our front, and our compliments were telegraphed to the rebel lines. An incessant roar of artillery and musketry was kept up on both sides, and bushels of shell, canister, and Minie — balls came thick and fast among us. My men were ordered by me to “lie down, load,” rise and fire. In this way I saved the lives of my men. After a few rounds were fired, a command was given by a rebel officer, in a loud tone, to fire low, when a leaden hail swept through our ranks, wounding several of my men, and throwing my company into confusion. Some of the men in the centre of the company turned their faces to the rear, and began to break ranks. My attention was called to this fact by the order of Col. Boomer to the men to stand fast. I immediately moved from the right to the centre of the company, struck up the guns of the men with my sword, commanded them to stand fast and face the enemy, and turned two men around into their places with my own hands. During this time the company had fallen back a few paces. I then commanded “forward,” and made a second charge to the right of the battery, and almost into the rebel lines. The firing was now conducted as before, but at this time the commander of the battery was shot from his horse, on my left, and one of his subalterns came to me and requested me to fall back a few paces, so that he could “limber up” and get away. But at this juncture the scene became perfectly terrific. Our Colonel, just in the rear, was shot through the lungs and carried from the field. A terrible fire was poured into the battery from the left and front, and the horses harnessed to the fore carriage of the guns, brought up from the ravine to haul them off, were wounded unto death, and rearing, bleeding, and charging, came like an avalanche down on my right, wounding one of my men, breaking the ranks of company H immediately on my right, and lunging forward, one horse over another, in the pains and madness of death, and massing themselves on a caisson in one awful pile of wounded and dying horses, dead men, and broken gun-carriages.

I rallied my men a third time and advanced to the front. The battery had now ceased firing — the gunners had been killed or ordered to save themselves in flight. The rebels were in possession of the left wing of the battery, and were pouring in a deadly cross-fire through it upon our flank, and down the ravine in our rear, sweeping every thing before it, and the roar of musketry from the front continued without ceasing. At this time I was on the right in line, my first lieutenant on the left, each instructing and encouraging the men. Then came a momentary lull in the storm, like that of a tornado, then an awful fire from the rebels burst upon us almost within bayonet reach, and swept my company from the field. I looked but for a moment upon [485] my men, dead, wounded and dying, strewn along the line, and turned and hastened away down the ravine, amid a shower of balls, the last man of our regiment from the field.

I overtook a few of my men in the rear, rallied them, and marched them to an open field, in which our skirmishers had formed in line of battle, and was ordered to form on the left. It was now after dark, but the firing still pursued us. Now the Eleventh Missouri volunteers received the charge of the rebels, and the bullets intended for them came thick amidst our ranks. We were ordered to lie down under cover.

At this time I was ordered by Lieut.-Colonel Holman to go out, with the remnant of my company, consisting of my first lieutenant and about one dozen men, on a reconnoissance on the rising ground to our right, and ascertain and report to him whether the rebels were flanking us. This order was executed in pitch darkness, and with great danger of getting shot down as well by our own men as by the rebels. On my return I had to report that the Twenty-sixth Illinois was posted on the rising ground to our right, the Ohio brigade on our rear, ready to sustain us, and the Tenth Missouri regiment on our left and front. The bugle now sounded “cease firing,” and the Eleventh Missouri, which had sustained a heavy loss, fell back and took position on our left. In these positions we laid on our arms all night, expecting to renew the battle at daylight on the following morning, but when the dawn came the report also came that the rebels had gone.

We marched upon the field to bury our dead, and remove the wounded to the hospital. But, oh I what a scene! I do not think a single horse of the Eleventh Ohio battery escaped. Many of the men lay dead by the side of their guns and horses. I found two of my men lying down on their faces, just at the right of the battery. They were shot by a number of balls through the breast; one man shot through the centre of the forehead by a canister, his brains all out on the ground where he fell; one through the head by a Minie ball, entering just above the eyebrow. One torn in mangled parts by a shell; another — yet why relate these things. I can only believe it providential that we were any of us allowed to leave the field alive.

The loss of the Fifth Iowa and of the four left companies of the Twenty-sixth Missouri regiment was fifty per cent of the number taken Into the field, and the loss of our brigade thirty-three per cent of the number marched upon the field.

De Witt C. Brown, Captain Company C, Twenty-Sixth Reg. Missouri Volunteers.

Cincinnati Commercial account.

Jacinto, Miss., Sept. 22, 1862.
Eds. Com.: When last I wrote you it was from the quiet town of Iuka, where, without any fear of forced marches, scarcity of rations, etc., before our eyes, we were zealously performing garrison duty to the best of our ability; but scarcely had my letter been deposited in the mail-bag, ere the Second brigade of Gen. Stanley's division (then commanded by Col. Murphy, of the Eighth Wisconsin) entered the town, they having evacuated Tuscumbia the previous day. The next day, (eleventh,) we (the Ohio brigade) also received orders to move. Accordingly, that evening, tents were struck, wagons packed, and at three o'clock on the morning on the twelfth, we silently wended our way from Iuka, leaving the destinies of the town in the hands of Colonel Murphy's brigade. After a fatiguing march of eighteen miles under a scorching sun, we reached Clear Creek, about eight P. M., where we bivouacked for the night on the road-side, five miles from Corinth. The next morning the brigade moved a short distance further north, and selecting a pleasant site, we made preparations for an encampment. The same evening information was received by Gen. Rosecrans, that the rebel cavalry had dashed into Iuka after our departure, and after a slight skirmish, put Colonel Murphy and his brigade to flight, thereby capturing a considerable amount of commissary and medical stores, among which were six hundred and eighty barrels of flour, which Col. Murphy, through culpable neglect, failed to destroy before evacuating. As soon as Gen. Rosecrans ascertained the truth of the report, he placed Col. Murphy under arrest, and ordered the brigade back to Iuka, under command of Col. Mower, of the Eleventh Missouri. They failed, however, of getting further than Burnsville, when they were ordered to proceed to near Jacinto, and await orders. In the mean while our brigade (O.) remained in bivouac near Corinth, while preparations were evidently afoot for placing our army on an active campaign footing. Transportation and baggage was reduced, our supply of tents cut down, etc., so as to facilitate our progress through the country, when a move should become necessary.

This period proved not to be far distant, for about the same time, General Rosecrans became aware that Price had occupied Iuka in force, and was endeavoring to cross the Tennessee River, for the purpose of getting in the rear of Buell, in his movement against Bragg. In conjunction with Gen. Grant, he therefore prepared to “bag” the “Diarrhoetic General.” It was decided upon that a column of eighteen thousand men under Generals Grant and Ord, should move via Burnsville, and attack Price, while General Rosecrans would move with part of his corps via Jacinto, and attack the enemy on the flank, while the balance of his column would move on the Fulton road, and cut off his (Price's) retreat in case he should attempt it. With this understanding, on the morning of the eighteenth inst., our army was on the move. Generals Stanley's and Hamilton's divisions, under Gen. Rosecrans, amid a drenching rain left “Clear Creek,” and after a fatiguing march bivouacked that night at this place.

At early dawn on the morning of the nineteenth we were again on the march, and at about ten o'clock the advance of Gen. Hamilton's division encountered the pickets of the enemy at “Barnett's Corners,” with whom a sharp skirmish took place, resulting in their being driven six miles [486] toward Iuka, with a small loss in killed and prisoners. At this juncture the whole of the column had arrived at “Barnett's,” and according to the programme, Gen. Rosecrans was waiting for the sound of Grant's artillery, to warn him that it was time to move forward, but after waiting over two hours, he was much chagrined at receiving a despatch from Grant (who was then only seven miles from Iuka) to the effect that he (Grant) was waiting for Gen. Rosecrans to open the battle. Without further ado, our column accordingly moved forward until within two miles of Iuka, when the enemy were discovered posted on a broad ridge commanding the country for some distance around. As soon as our skirmishers advanced in sight, the rebels opened a severe fire of musketry upon them, when they awaited the arrival of Gen. Hamilton's division, which soon came up on the “double-quick,” and formed in line. They were also received by a hot fire of artillery and musketry, when the Eleventh Ohio battery, which had by this time got into position, opened out on the rebels. In a few moments the engagement became general, and lasted for two hours, when darkness precluded the possibility of any further advantage accruing to either side. The night was therefore spent in burying our dead and caring for the wounded, while our men lay on their arms on the battle-field, waiting for the dawn of a new day to continue the work of death.

The hospital was established about a half-mile from the battle-field, and under the direction of Surgeon A. P. Campbell, Medical Director of this army. The wounded were properly attended to. Generals Rosecrans, Stanley, Hamilton, and Sullivan, and Acting Brig.-Generals Sanborn, Fuller, and Mower were on the field during the whole of the battle, at the head of their respective corps, and their presence signally aided the fortunes of the day. Our loss during the two hours battle, according to the reports received at the headquarters of Gen. Rosecrans, foots up at one hundred and forty-eight (148) killed, six hundred and twenty-five (625) wounded, and twenty (20) missing. Among our wounded officers are Col. Eddy, Forty-eighth Indiana, Col. Chambers, Sixteenth Iowa, and Col. Boomer, Twenty-sixth Missouri. The loss of the enemy, according to the most carefully collected accounts, will number over one thousand two hundred (1200) in killed and wounded, while we have taken one thousand prisoners. Among the rebels killed were Gen. Little and Acting General Berry, beside many field-officers. Gen. Whitfield was mortally wounded in the early part of the engagement, but was removed from the field by the enemy.

Several of the officers present pronounced the battle one of the most sanguinary and fiercely contested battles of the war, for the number of men engaged, as during the most severe part of the battle not over three thousand men were engaged on our side at any one time, while, from the statements of many of the prisoners taken, three full brigades of rebels, numbering probably nine thousand men, were pitted against us, and four more brigades were held in reserve in the town.

Most of our troops engaged behaved in the most gallant manner, particularly the Eleventh Missouri and Fifth Iowa. These two regiments stood the brunt of the battle, as their list of killed and wounded testify to. The former lost seventy-six and the latter one hundred and sixteen in killed and wounded; and for over half an hour the Eleventh Missouri held their position against a whole rebel brigade, without having a single round of ammunition in their cartridge-boxes. It is but justice to state here, for the honor of the brave men concerned, that, though this regiment was organized in Missouri, with the exception of about twenty of the men, every member of this regiment hails from Illinois; and but for the fact that they could not be accepted in that State, (it having furnished its quota at the time the Eleventh was organized,) they would be ranked among the Illinois regiments. As it was determined to go into service, they obtained an organization under the laws of Missouri, and to-day refuse to be reorganized, being proud of the title that their bravery has gained for them.

During the early part of the engagement, the Eleventh Ohio battery being unable to obtain a good position on account of the thick underbrush, became exposed to a severe fire of the enemy's musketry, and in less than a half-hour after the battle began, seventy-two of the battery men were placed hors du combat, being either killed or wounded, and every horse was shot from the caissons. The rebels perceiving this, and that it was poorly supported by infantry, made a charge on it, and succeeded in capturing the six guns, two of which they spiked. Later in the evening it had been retaken twice by the Fifth Iowa, at the point of the bayonet, but finally fell into the hands of the rebels. After the evacuation seven guns were found in Iuka, which the rebels had abandoned; among them were the six constituting the Eleventh Ohio battery.

The morning after the battle, at an early hour, Gen. Rosecrans, not perceiving any movement on the part of the enemy toward renewing the conflict, ordered his line of pickets to advance. In doing so they met with no opposition by the rebels, and our whole force was then thrown forward, the artillery occasionally throwing shells in their direction, and every precaution being taken to prevent an ambuscade. In this manner our column had reached a ridge in full view of, and not over a half-mile distant from the town, when a white flag was discovered approaching our line. Capt. Dustan, Assistant Adjutant-Gen. to Acting Gen. Fuller, was sent out to meet it, when the bearer of the flag imparted to the Captain the information that Price had evacuated the town during the night and early morning, and that his rear-guard had left Iuka but a few moments previous.

Without the least delay our column was then pushed forward in pursuit of the flying rebels, they having, however, a fair start of about four miles. The pursuit was kept up until evening, [487] our cavalry constantly skirmishing with their rear-guard, and capturing many prisoners. Our men being but three companies strong, were unable to obtain any particular advantage, and our infantry being too far in the rear, at night it was deemed advisable to give up the pursuit, and our column, consisting of Hamilton's and Stanley's divisions, bivouacked about thirteen miles from Iuka on the Fulton road.

At about eleven o'clock on the morning after the battle the advance of Gens. Grant and Ord's column reached Iuka, and halted in the town. Had they been but a few hours sooner, our victory would have been complete; for if Grant's fresh troops could not have cut off the retreat of Price, they could at least have pursued them to a better advantage than Gen. Rosecrans was capable of doing with his small column of fatigued men. It remains for Gen. Grant therefore to explain why he was so tardy in his movement, and why he failed to enact his part of the plan as arranged with General Rosecrans, for the complete rout and capture of the whole of Price's army — for there is not the least doubt but that if Grant had come up in the proper time, instead of waiting four miles from the battle-field, the capture of Price and his motley crew would have crowned our efforts; for it must be distinctly understood that not a single regiment outside of Gen. Rosecrans's Army of the Mississippi was engaged in the battle, and to the skilful generalship of Gen. R., and the indomitable courage of his veteran troops, rather than to any plans of his superiors, is our success due.

I intended forwarding a list of our killed and wounded, but the mail will close ere I could copy it. I will endeavor to send it in a day or two.

I presume that ere this the telegraph has informed you that General Rosecrans has been promoted to a Major-Generalship. Such is the case, and the “double-starred epaulette” could not grace a braver soldier or a more accomplished gentleman.

Ere closing, I will take this opportunity of returning my sincere thanks to Capt. Temple Clark, Assistant Adjutant-General to Gen. Rosecrans, for his kindness in furnishing me with considerable of the material for this letter. A “Bohemian” himself, he is always ready and willing to lend a helping hand to a “fellow-craftsman.”

This morning the troops of General Grant returned to Corinth, while the army of the Mississippi returned to this point, to be in readiness for a move toward Rienzi, which place has been menaced by Breckinridge and Van Dorn during the past two days. As soon as he hears of Price's defeat, they are, however, likely to “skedaddle” in the wake of their disappointed and defeated superior, who, at the latest accounts, had started back to Tupelo, to gloat over “another confederate victory” (?).

So, for the present, Northern Mississippi is safe from its “liberators,” and Buell has an opportunity of operating at his will against Bragg, from whose vicinity we are anxiously awaiting some stirring news.

J. C. C.

Jackson Mississippian account.

Baldwin, Sept. 24, 1862.
dear Cooper: I wrote you a short communication from IuKa, announcing its peaceable capture on the fourth, by the army under General Price. I believe I was a little congratulatory in my remarks, and spread out on the rich fruits of the bloodless capture. Indeed it was a sight to gladden the heart of a poor soldier, whose only diet for some time had been unsalted beef and whit leather hoecake, the stacks of cheese, crackers, preserves, mackerel, coffee, and other good things that lined the shelves of the sutlers' shops, and filled the commissary stores of the Yankee army. But, alas! the good things which should have been distributed to the brave men who won them, were held in reserve for what purpose I know not, unless to sweeten the teeth of those higher in authority, (whilst the men were fed on husks,) and I suppose were devoured by the flames on the day of our retreat. Had these things been given to the men they could have eaten them during the time of our occupancy of the town, and saved to the Confederacy subsistence (such as it was) for its army during that time. Will our government and our generals never learn that it is policy as well as duty, to protect and preserve the private soldiers? It is no trouble to get officers, but when neglect and bad treatment has killed the privates of our army, where shall we supply their places? But I am digressing.

We held peaceable possession of Iuka one day, and on the next day were alarmed by the booming of cannon, and called out to spend the evening in battle-array in the woods. Shifting our positions, we lay in the woods until the evening of the nineteenth, when we were ordered to move again, and supposed we were going back to camp to rest awhile, when the sharp crack of musketry — on the right of our former lines told that the enemy were nearer than we had imagined. In fact, they had almost penetrated the town itself. How on earth, with the woods full of our cavalry, they could have approached so near our lines is a mystery. They had planted a battery sufficiently near to shell Gen. Price's headquarters, and were cracking away at the Third brigade, in line of battle, under General Hebert, when our brigade (the Fourth) came up at a double-quick and formed on their left.

And then for two hours and fifteen minutes was kept up the most terrific fire of musketry that ever dinned my ears. There was one continuous roar of small arms, while grape and canister howled in fearful concert above our heads and through our ranks. General Little, our division commander, whose bravery and kindness had endeared him to the men under his command, was shot through the head early in the action, and fell from his horse dead. He was sitting by Gen. Price, and conversing with him at the time, and both Generals were no doubt marked for death by the same hand. The Third brigade was in the hottest of the fire, and most nobly and gloriously did it bear itself. Hereafter let [488] it be known as the “Salamander brigade,” for it literally lives in fire.

They charged and took the battery which was doing so much damage, after a desperate struggle, piling the ground with dead. The Third Louisiana regiment, of this brigade, entered the fight with two hundred and thirty-eight men, and lost one hundred and eight in killed and wounded. The Third Texas fared about as badly. What a glorious brigade it is! The Fortieth Mississippi, I am proud to say, is in this brigade, and gallantly shared the glory of the day. The troops against which we were contending were Western men, the battery manned by Iowa troops, who fought bravely and well. Of the part borne by our brigade and regiment I will not speak, but leave to others the chronicle of our deeds. I know this, that the events of that evening have considerably increased my appetite for peace, and if the Yankees will not shoot at us any more, I shall be perfectly satisfied to let them alone. It was a terrible struggle, and we lost heavily, though victory was with us, as we drove the enemy from his chosen position, and slept at night within one hundred yards of their army, and beyond their line of battle in the evening. All night could be heard the groans of the wounded and dying of both armies, forming a sequel of horror and agony to the deadly struggle over which night had kindly thrown its mantle. Saddest of all, our dead were left unburied, and many of the wounded on the battlefield to be taken in charge by the enemy.

During the night the enemy were reenforced, and as our strength would not justify us in trying the issue of another battle, a retreat was ordered, and at daybreak next morning commenced a retreat for this place. As we marched through the town, the enemy began to shell, directing their aim, as we judged, at the headquarters of General Price, but the old hero was not at home, but on the road directing our march. The retreat, made in the face of a foe outnumbering us by odds, was, perhaps, more brilliant than a victory; and General Maury, whose division brought up the rear, deserves the highest honor for the skill and courage displayed under circumstances so perilous.

The enemy pressed our rear all day on the twenty-sixth, until General Maury placed a battery commanding the road, and as their cavalry closed upon us, sent a volley into their ranks, which settled the sardines of about sixty of them, and taught them caution the balance of the route. During the entire retreat we lost but four or five wagons, which broke down on the road and were left. Acts of vandalism disgraceful to the army were, however, perpetrated along the road, which made me blush to own such men as my countrymen.

Corn-fields were laid waste, potato-patches robbed, barn-yards and smoke-houses despoiled, hogs killed, and all kinds of outrages perpetrated in broad daylight and in full view of officers. I doubted, on the march up and on the retreat, whether I was in an army of brave men, fighting for their country, or merely following a band of armed marauders, who are as terrible to their friends as foes. I once thought General Bragg too severe in his discipline, but I am satisfied none but the severest discipline will restrain men upon a march.

The settlements through which we passed were made to pay heavy tribute to the rapacity of our soldiers, and I have no doubt that women and children will cry for the bread which has been rudely taken from them by those who should have protected and defended them. This plunder, too, was without excuse, for rations were regularly issued every night, and though the men did not get their meals as punctually as in camp, still there was no absolute suffering to justify such conduct, and it deserves the severest reprobation.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: