(the battle was fought about 2 miles out), I cannot accompany this with a topographical map. I send, however, a map showing all the roads and places named in this report. The country between the road traveled by General Ord's command to some distance south of the railroad is impassible for cavalry and almost so for infantry. It is impassable for artillery southward to the road traveled by General Rosecrans' command. Soon after dispatching General Ord word was brought by one of my staff (Colonel Hillyer) that the enemy was in full retreat. I immediately proceeded to Iuka, and found that the enemy had left during the night, taking everything with them except their wounded and the artillery (captured by them the evening before), going south by the Fulton road. Generals Stanley and Hamilton were in pursuit. This was the first I knew of the Fulton road being left open to the enemy for their escape. With it occupied no route would have been left them except east, with the difficult bottom of Bear Creek to cross, or northeast, with the Tennessee River in their front, or to conquer their way out. A partial examination of the country afterward convinced me, however, that troops moving in separate columns by the routes suggested could not support each other until they arrived near Iuka. on the other hand, an attempt to retreat would, according to programme, have brought General Ord with his force on the rear of the retreating column.
For casualties and captures see accompanying reports.
The battle of Iuka foots up as follows:
On the 16th of September we commenced to collect our strength to move upon Price, at Iuka, in two columns. The one to the right of the railroad, commanded by Brigadier General (now Major General) W. S. Rosecrans, the one to the left commanded by Major General E. O. C. Ord.
On the night of the 18th the latter was in position to bring on an engagement in one hour's march. The former, from having a greater distance to march and through the fault of a guide, was 20 miles back.
On the 19th, by making a rapid march, with hardy, well-disciplined, and tried troops arrived within 2 miles of the place to be attacked. Unexpectedly the enemy took the initiative and became the attacking party. The ground chosen was such that a large force on our side could not be brought into action, but the bravery and endurance of those brought in was such that with the skill and presence of mind of the officers commanding they were able to hold their ground until night closed the conflict. During the night the enemy fled, leaving our troops in possession of the field, with their dead to bury and wounded to care for. If it was the object of the enemy to make their way into Kentucky, they were defeated in that; if to hold their position until Van Dorn could come up ont he southwest of Corinth and make a simultaneous attack, they were defeated in that. Our only defeat was in not capturing the entire army or in destroying it, as I had hoped to do. It was a part of General Hamilton's command that did the fighting, directed entirely by that cool and deserving officer. I commend him to the President for acknowledgment of his services.
During the absence of these forces from Corinth that post was left in charge of Brigadier General T. J. McKean. The southern front, from Jacinto to Rienzi, was under the charge of Colonel Du Bois, with a small infantry and cavalry force. The service was most satisfactorily performed, Colonel Du Bois showing great vigilance and efficiency. I was kept constantly advised of the movements of flying bodies of cavalry than were hovering in that front.
The wounded, both fiend and enemy, are much indebted to Surg.