War of the Rebellion: Serial 024 Page 0099 Chapter XXIX. IUKA.

Search Civil War Official Records

Numbers 24.

Report of Colonel Charles L. Matthies, Fifth Iowa Infantry.


September 21, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken in the engagement near Iuka, on the 19th instant, by the Fifth Iowa Infantry.

We left camp, 6 miles from Jacinto, early on the morning of the 19th instant, leading the column of the Third Division, and soon came onto the enemy's pickets, posted on the road. Three companies of my regiment, E, G, and D, were ordered forward as skirmishers, and succeeded in driving them from their position, and continued to drive them from one position to another, which they contested, for more than 6 miles, killing 3 and wounding a number, when these companies were relieved by the Twenty-sixth Missouri Infantry. Our loss was 1 sergeant severely wounded. The skirmishers soon came onto the main force of the enemy, placed in a strong position, and received a volley from one or more regiments. My regiment was ordered into line on the right of the Eleventh Ohio Battery, which had just got into position on the crest of a hill when the enemy, in strong force (two brigades as I learned), under Generals Green and Martin, came up in front and poured a terrible fire of musketry into my line, which was promptly returned. The firing continued without cessation on both sides for more than a quarter of an hour, when I found the enemy was pressing my left wing, near the battery, and I ordered a charge, which was executed in the most gallant manner, every officer and man moving up in almost perfect line, cheering lustily. The enemy gave way before us, when we poured a most deadly fire into their ranks, causing them to fall back down the hill. They soon returned with renewed vigor on my front and left, cheering as they came, and were received with a steady fire from the gallant boys of my regiment, holding our position under the most terrific fire possible. I then gave the command "Forward," and the enemy were again driven over the hill, but not until they had come so near as to boldly reach out after our colors, thus showing the United States flag, and saying, "Don't fire at us; we are your friends." At this juncture the left wing of my regiments was suffering terribly from a cross-fire coming from the left of the battery, nearly every officer of the three left companies of the Twenty-sixth Missouri Infantry came up to the support of my left, and nobly assisted in holding the ground more than an hour, until I found my ammunition exhausted, when I ordered my regiment to retire to a field about 100 yards distant, which was done in god order, and where it was reformed under a galling fire. At this time the Eleventh Missouri Infantry advanced in order of battle, and my regiment retired by the right of companies to the rear, passing the Tenth Missouri Infantry, which was advancing to take a position near the road. Under the direction of an aide-de-camp the regiment was here reformed in line, ammunition distributed to the men, and, the firing having ceased, the men rested upon their arms for the night.

The casualties in my regiment were, 7 commissioned officers killed and 8 wounded and 33 enlisted men killed and 168 wounded.*


*But see revised statement, p. 78.