Page images



under Breckenridge. General Williams, commanding our troops there, formed his line of battle the night before, some distance outside of the town. But, though he was prepared to receive the expected attack, the enemy, taking adyantage of a dense fog, çame down at early day. light so suddenly upon him that a portion of his line gave way, and some guns were captured. He, however, rallied his troops, and gallantly led them in person against the advancing, shouting battalions, hurling them back with resistless fury. But he fell in the charge, and was borne back, mortally wounded, to the rear. The battle raged, with varied fortunes, for five hours, when the enemy fell back. The gunboats Essex and Sumter shelled the woods during the action; and after our lines were drawn in, as ordered by General Williams before he fell, two other gunboats added their fire, deterring the enemy from making another advance. The ram Arkansas, and the gunboats Webb and Music, had designed to take part in the combat, but the former, becoming disabled, was compelled to lie by. So, the next morning, Porter, in the Essex, went in search of the monster, and met it coming down to attack him. The former at once opened his guns on the formidable foe. The engine of the ram becoming disabled, it was compelled to run ashore, where it continued the combat. Porter, choosing his position, now poured a terrible fire into his adversary. The boat Was soon in flames, and, deserted by her crew, drifted down stream till her magazine caught fire, when she blew up with & tremendous explosion. Thus ignobly perished this mauctdreaded vessel.

Sherman at this time commanded at Memphis unās: Grant, who was over the Department of West Tennessee. His army lay comparatively idle during the month; but the next month, September, it seemed to rouse from its inexplicable inaction. Grant's head-quarters were at Corinth, where




he was confronted by Van Dorn ard Price, who the Winter before had been beaten at Pea Ridge by Curtis.

Kosecrans, who in the middle of the preceding May bad been ordered to join Halleck before Corinth, was, after the latter's elevation to the chief command, and Pope's transfer to Virginia, placed at the head of the Army of the Mississippi, as it was termed, under Grant. During the Summer he was active in the field, but accomplished nothing of importance. At this time he was established in Corinth. Suddenly he was informed that Price had advanced and taken pos-ission of Iuka.






[blocks in formation]


OSECRANS knew that this movement was merely pre

paratory to an attack on Coriuth itself, and, with his usual promptitude, determined at once to retake the place, and proposed to Grant to advance by one road, while he, marching by way of Jacinto, should get in rear, and prevent the force there from retreating southward. This was agreed to, and Rosecrans, having concentrated the troops of his two divisions, started on the morning of the 19th, and marching eighteen miles and a half, came within a little over a mile of Iuka. Price did not wait for his attack, but immediately marched forth to meet him. Qae division, Hamilson's, numbering less than three thousandi men, and with but one battery, was in advance, and on this Price with eleven thousand men suddenly moved. Hamilton had reached the brow of a hill, which fell off abruptly on both sides, wh-:n the enemy, hid in a wavine belew, broke cover with a siout, and poured in a sudden volley of mus. ketry. The woods were so dense that Hamilton could nc: deploy his men, and, marching them by either tank, ti on the only road that ran through the woods, and planti..g his single battery so as to comm.nd this road, received the

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

shock. It was fortunate for him that his position was so cramped, for it lessened the numerical advantage of the enemy,

and left the contest to be decided, very much by the comparative strength of the heads of columns. The movements of the regiments into their assigned places were made with great steadiness, though under a withering fire the whole time. Each colonel had his orders to hold his ground at all hazards.

It was a square, stand-up fight. The rebel onslaught was terrific. In dense masses, regiment closing in on regiment, like successive waves of the sea, they bore down on our thin line, with a desperation that threatened to sweep it to quick destruction. At this juncture, Sullivan arrived with his division, and, though no more troops could be used in front, his timely arrival prevented Hamilton from being outflanked by the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. He believed' he could stand pounding longest, and his brave division stood like a wall of adamant across the road. The woods on either side of it, were alive with the rolling volleys, and echoed to the shouts and yells of the combatants. The rebels, determined to force our line, moved into the desolating fire that met them, with unfaltering resciution. As they came within close range, that single battery, the Eleventh Ohio, opened on ther, with grape and canister. The guns were worked with great rapidity, and at each discharge, gaps opened in the dense ranks, but they closed up again, and the hostile line swept steadily forward over all obstructions. At length, the Forty-eighth Indiana, pressed by three times its number-its gallant Commander cut down-fell back in disorder. This left the death-dealing battery exposed, and with an exultant shout the enemy sprang upon it. Receiving without flinching the load of canister and grape that met them, they swept over it and captured it; but 180t till every officer, and nearly every gunner was

[blocks in formation]

killed or wounded, and scarcely a horse left standing. At this juncture, Sullivan, by a great effort, rallied a part of the right wing, and flung it like a loosened cliff on the shouting, triumphant captors, and sent them astounded back to cover. Maddened to fury by their loss, the rebels rallied, and with yells precipitated themselves upon Sullivan's diminished band, and recovered the battery.' Around its guns, the battle raged with awful fury. Every flank movement of the enemy being promptly stopped, he was compelled to fight it out in front, and from five o'clock till dark, the Fifth Iowa, and Eleventh and Twenty-sixth Missouri, held that single road, with a stubbornness that scoffed at numbers. Rooted to their places --- a line of fire running incessantly along their front, they stood unconquerable as fate. Three times did the Fifth Iowa, when about to be swallowed up by the ever-increasing masses, leap forward with the bayonet, and send them broken and discomfited back. When their ammunition was at last exhausted, they slowly retired, but with their faces to the foe. All this time Rosecrans listened, with intense anxiety, to hear the sound of Grant's guns on the other road, but it came not, and darkness at length closed the bloody contest. Those two brave, shattered divisions, lay down on their arms, on the ground they had crimsoned with their blood, to wait for the morning light to renew the unequal struggle. But the enemy, under cover of the darkness, stole away; and when the morning dawned, luka was found deserted. Rosecrans immediately started in pursuit with his cavalry, but being only three companies strong it could do little more than harass the rebel rear, and after going twenty-five miles, gave up the chase. About eleven o'clock, Grant marched into Iuka, where he should have been long before. Some unfortunate mistake had causc 1 th: velny, and thus saved the enemy

« PreviousContinue »