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The Battle of Iuka

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According to records from the National Archives and Missouri State Archives records John William Wilson participated in the Battle of Iuka.  Although Thomas Allen Wilson served in the same unit as John William Wilson (Company E, 4th MO Infantry-CSA), there is no documentation confirming if Thomas Allen Wilson was or was not with his company during this engagement.  During the engagement,  Company E (4th MO Infantry-CSA) was under the command of Colonel MacFarland and was assigned to the Fourth Brigade (Army of the West), under the command of Brigadier General Martin E. Green.   

Philip Askins was listed as present on the Muster Roles for Company A (5th MO Infantry-CSA) and presumed to have served with his unit during the Battle of Iuka.  During the engagement, the 5th MO Infantry (CSA) was under the command of Major General John P. McCown and was assigned to the First Brigade (Army of the West), under the Command of Colonel Elijah Gates.  

 

                               Battle:

Prior to the Battle of Iuka on September 19, 1862, Major General Sterling Prices Army of the West (CSA) main column marched into Iuka MS) on September 14, 1862 . Prices superior, Gen. Braxton Bragg, the commander of the Confederate Army of the Mississippi, who was leading an offensive deep into Kentucky, ordered him to prevent Major General William S. Rosecranss Army (Union) of from moving into Middle Tennessee and reinforcing Brigadier General James Negleys Union forces garrisoned Nashville. Prices Army of the West (CSA)had about 14,000 men and could request assistance from Major General Earl Van Dorn, commanding the District of the Mississippi (CSA), headquartered at Holly Springs (MS).  Major General Ulysses S. Grant, commanding the Army of the Tennessee (Union), feared that Price intended to go north to join Bragg against Buell.  Grant devised a plan for Major General Ord's Union forces to advance on Iuka from the west and Rosecranss Union forces to advance from the southwest, with both arriving at Iuka on the 18th and making a coordinated attack the next day. 

On September 18, 1862, Union forces under Major General Ord arrived as planned and skirmishing ensued between his reconnaissance patrol and Confederate pickets, about six miles from Iuka, before nightfall.  However, Union forces under Major General Rosecrans delayed and was not in position to attack as planned.  Late on that night, Price received orders from  Major General Earl Van Dorn stating he (Van Dorn) was now in command and that Price was to fall back to Rienzi to join him.  Price replied by telegram:  "I will move my army as quickly as I can ...I am, however, expecting an attack today, as it seems...they are concentrating their forces against me."

 

On September 19,  Ord sent Price a message demanding that he surrender, but Price refused. At the same time, Price replied:  "...that neither he nor [his soldiers] will ever lay down their arms...until the independence of the Confederate State shall have been acknowledged by the United States."   Meanwhile, Rosecranss union forces mistakenly marched on the Jacinto (Bay Springs) Road which prevented them  from participating in any coordinated attack as planned.  Therefore, Grant ordered  Ord to await the sound of fighting between Rosecrans (Union) and Price (CSA) before engaging the Confederates from the north (Burnsville). 

 

About 4:00 pm, Rosencrans' force of 9,000 union men topped a ridge on the Bay Springs Road and found Price's 2nd Brigade (under the command of Colonel Louis Herbert) well positioned in a ravine filled with timber and underbrush.  Included in Herbert's 2nd Brigade (CSA) were the 3rd Texas Calvary (dismounted) and the 27th Texas Calvary (dismounted).  The armies engaged in a infantry duel waged with a severity which General Hamilton (CSA) had never seen surpassed.  Colonel Mabry's 3rd Texans (CSA) with the aide of Missouri (CSA) artillery soon drove back the Union forces.  

 

As a result, the 37th Alabama (CSA) and 36th Mississippi (CSA) were ordered to support the left flank and the 37th Mississippi (CSA-Martin's Brigade)  and  38th Mississippi (CSA-Martin's Brigade) were ordered to support the right flank.  Once in place, Herbert forces charged and the union forces collapsed.  During the attack and ensuing counter attacks, both colonels of the 3rd and 27th Texas were wounded and each regiment lost two-thirds of its men.  Despite several counter attacks by Rosencrans' Union forces, Hebert Confederate forces held the ridge as dusk neared.  

 

By dusk, Colonel Elijah Gates' brigade and Brigadier General Martin E. Green's brigades of arrived after a five mile march from positions opposing Ord.  Having not heard the sounds of battle, Ord's union forces never attacked Price as Grant had ordered.  Gates Brigade (including Philip Askins' Company A-5th MO Inf) replaced Herbert's brigades at the center with Green's brigade (including John William Wilson's Company E-4th MO Inf) placed in reserve.  

 

A lieutenant of the 5th Missouri described the movements of Gates' Brigade:

  

"We arrived on the filed just in time to fire and receive one round when the enemy withdrew on account of the darkness.  We had four men wounded in that volley...the dead and wounded are lying around so thick that you can scarcely help stepping on them.  We remained in position all night.  The ememy would give us a volley whenever we made the least noise."

An officer of the 3rd Missouri, deployed in reserve with Green's brigade, wrote:

 

"About 9 o'clock we were moved up and relieved the second brigade [Herbert's] and lay on our arms not over one hundred yards from the opposing forces; our guards bringing in several prisoners during the night.  The horrors of war and battlefields are terrible.  Al night we could hear the dries, yells and prayers of the wounded and dying around us, without the power of relieving their distress..."

Although Price wanted to attach Rosencrans' union forces at dawn, he was convinced to him to march to join Van Dorn, as earlier planned.  At the same time, Rosecrans redeployed his men for fighting the next day. Prices army evacuated Iuka via the uncovered Fulton Road, protected its rear with a heavy rearguard and hooked up with Van Dorn five days later at Ripley.  Although Rosecrans was supposed to traverse Fulton Road and cover it, he stated that he had not guarded the road because he feared dividing his force; Grant later approved this decision. Rosecranss army occupied Iuka and then mounted a pursuit; the Confederate rearguard and overgrown terrain prevented the Union pursuit from accomplishing much.  The Federals should have destroyed or captured Prices army, but instead the Rebels joined Van Dorn and assaulted Corinth in October.

Go to: The Battle of Elkhorn Tavern ~~ Pea Ridge

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