Battle of Iuka
Gen. Sterling Price had set out from Tupelo, Mississippi with his Army of the West on Sept. 11, and on Sept. 14 he captured the town and the vast Federal supply depot there. He is also in a position to block the railroad east---or to dash northward to join Bragg in Kentucky. However, Price plans to coordinate a junction with Gen. Earl Van Dorn’s 7,000-strong Army of West Tennessee in order to attack the Federals at Corinth. But Grant decides to not wait to be attacked, and moves first.
|Grant moves to trap Price.|
Price is not very surprised when Grant, now in Corinth, sends two forces after him: Gen. Edward O.C. Ord, with three small divisions of the Army of the Tennessee, and Gen. William Rosecrans, with the Army of the Mississippi (2 divisions). Rosecrans takes the road that approaches Iuka from the southwest and Ord from the northwest. However, Rosecrans has the longer route, and over poorer roads. Rosecrans informs Grant (who is riding with Ord’s troops) on the night of the 18ththat he is still 20 miles out of Iuka. Grant orders Ord to close within a few miles of Iuka and to wait: when Rosecrans arrives in the afternoon, and opens his attack, then Ord will move in when he hears the sounds of battle, hopefully being able to strike at the Confederate rear. Price, in the meantime, has received a message from Van Dorn that they should march south to rendezvous and combine forces.
|Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, CSA|
Late on the afternoon of this day, Price is preparing his army to set out when Rosecrans approaches. Price sends out his best division, under Gen. Little, who deploys Gen. Hebert’s brigade (followed by Martin’s) and these troops run into Sanborn’s Union brigade. Early in the fighting, Gen. Little is killed by one bullet. Price takes personal command and brings up the rest of Little's division. Sanborn places the 11th Ohio Battery as the linchpin of his line, and Hebert’s troops—mostly Louisianans, Arkansans, and Texans—hit the Union line. After three attempts, the charging Rebels capture the Ohio battery. Of the 54 men and 4 officers of the 11th Ohio, 46 men and 3 officers are dead, as are most of the horses. But the six guns are in Southern hands. But soon both Yankee divisions are on the field. The rest of Little’s line comes in also, and Green’s and Martin’s Mississippi brigades charge, but are stopped by a remarkable stand by the 5th Iowa and 11th Missouri. Grant and Ord, only about 4 or 5 miles away, are deceived by an acoustic shadow: neither of them hears any sound of battle, and give up on Rosecrans attacking today—so Ord never moves in to support Rosecrans. It is a small battle, and a Union victory by default, but Grant is unable to trap and destroy the Rebel army, as he had hoped.
This is a remarkably bloody battle: both armies lose nearly a third of the forces engaged in the short space of two hours.
|Maj. Gen. William Starke Rosecrans, USA|
This evening, Price simply leaves his position and marches his army out on the road south, left unwatched by Rosecrans. On the morning of Sept. 21, Grant’s troops find themselves facing empty trenches. Rosecrans mounts a pursuit, but soon finds that pursuit is futile. Union Victory (marginal)
Losses: Killed Wounded Captured or Missing Total
North 144 598 40 790
South 263 692 561 1,516
—Alexander G. Downing, a sergeant in the 11th Iowa Infantry, under Gen. Ord, relates the events of the day, and of his regiments only "action":
—Sharpsburg, Maryland: Lt. Josiah Marshall Favill, of the 57th New York Infantry, writes in his journal of the day after Lee’s army has vanished over the Potomac, giving perhaps one of the most vivid descriptions of a battlefield after a battle:
The country people flocked to the battlefield like vultures, their curiosity and inquisitiveness most astonishing; while my men were all at work many of them stood around, dazed and awe-stricken by the terrible evidence of the great fight; hundreds were scatered over the field, eagerly searching for souvenirs in the shape of cannon balls, guns, bayonets, swords, canteens, etc. They were all jubilant over the rebel defeat, of course, and claimed for us a mighty victory. I was much amused at the way they stared at me. Had I been the veritable Hector of Troy, I could have scarcely excited more curiosity than while in command of this burial party.
Our brigade moved down to the foot of the hill, immediately after it was known the enemy had decamped, and prepared hot coffee for the first time in three days. . . . While our losses are heavy, they are said to be a mere bagatelle to those of the right wing. Twenty thousand men, it is claimed, were killed and wounded during the battle, which seems too enormous to be true. . . . The whole loss of the regiment is something over a hundred, which is wonderful, considering the fire they were exposed to.
|The Sunken Road at Antietam today|
—Battle of Boteler’s Ford: Maryland - On the Potomac River, Boteler’s Ford is where Lee’s army crossed from Maryland back into Virginia. Lee leaves a large brigade of artillery (45 cannon) under Brig. Gen. William Pendleton, in addition to two infantry brigades to guard the ford. Federal troops attack the Rebels, and capture 4 guns.
—Jonathan Lewis Whitaker, a Union army surgeon at a hospital in southern Pennsylvania, writes home to his wife Julia: