total force with which to attack the enemy about 15,000. This was equal to or greater than their number, as i estimated them. General Rosecrans, at his suggestion, acquiesced in by me, was to move northward from his eastern march in two columns. One, under Hamilton, was to move up the Fulton and Eastport road; the other, under Stanley, ont he jacinto road, from Barnett's.
On the 18th General Ord's command was pushed forward, driving in the enemy pickets and capturing a few prisoners and taking a position within 6 miles of Iuka. I expected from the following dispatch that General Rosecrans would be near enough by the night of the 18th to make it safe for Ord to press forward on the morning of the 19th and bring on an engagement:
SEPTEMBER 18, 1862.
One of my spies, in from Reardon's, on the Bay Springs road, tells of a continuous movement since last Friday of forces eastward. They say Van Dorn is to defend Vicksburg, Breckinridge to make his way to Kentucky, and Price to attack Iuka or to go to Tennessee. If Price's forces are at Iuka the plan I propose is to move up as close as we can to-night and conceal our movements: Ord to advance from Burnsville, commence the attack, and draw their attention that way, while I move in on the Jacinto and Fulton roads, massing heavily on the Fulton road, and crushing in their left and cutting off their retreat eastward. I propose to leave in ten minutes for Jacinto, from whence I will dispatch you, by line of vedettes, to Burnsville. Will await a fe minutes to hear from you before I start. What news from Burnsville?
W. S. ROSECRANS,
To which was sent the following in reply:
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST TENNESSEE,
Burnsville, Miss., September 18, 1862-6.45 p. m.
General Ross' command is at this place. McArthur's division is north of the road, 2 miles to the rear, and Davies' division south of the road near by. I sent forward two regiments of infantry, with cavalry, by the road north of the railroad, toward Iuka, with instructions for them to bivouac for the night at a point which was designated about 4 miles from here if not interrupted, and have the cavalry feel where the enemy are. Before they reached the point of the road (you will see it on the map, the road north of the railroad) they met what is supposed to be Armstrong's cavalry. The rebel cavalry was forced back, and I sent instructions then to have them stop for the night where they thought they could safely hod. In the morning troops will advance from here they thought they could safely hold. In the morning troops will advance from here at 4.30 a. m. An anonymous dispatch, just received, states that Price, Magruder, and Breckinridge have a force of 60,000 between Iuka and Tupelo. This I have no doubt is the understanding of citizens, but I very much doubt their information being correct. Your reconnaissances prove that there is but little force south of Corinth for a long distance and no great force between Bay Springs and the railroad. Make as rapid an advance as you can and let us do to-morrow all we can. It may be necessary to fall back the day following. I look upon the showing of a cavalry force so near us as an indication of a retreat and they a force to cover it.
U. S. GRANT,
After midnight the following dispatch was received:
HEADQUARTERS ENCAMPMENT, September 18, 1862.
GENERAL: Your dispatch received. General Stanley's division arrived after dark, having been detained by falling in the rear of Ross through fault of guide. Our cavalry is 6 miles this side of Barnett's; Hamilton's First Brigade 8 miles, Second Brigade 9 miles this side; Stanley's near Davenport's Mill. We shall move as early as practicable, say 4.30 a. m. This will give 20 miles' march for Stanley to Iuka. Shall not therefore be in before 1 or 2 o'clock, but when we come in will endeavor to do it strongly.
* * * *
W. S. ROSECRANS,
Brigadier-General, U. S. Army.