While national attention focused on Gen-eral Bragg's Kentucky invasion, 14,000 Confederates under General Sterling Price occupied Iuka on September 14. Price planned to move to the Tennessee River and prevent General Grant from sending reinforcements to General Buell, whose Federal army was pursuing Bragg into Kentucky. In response, Grant set a trap to destroy Price, ordering General Rosecrans with 10,000 troops to advance on Iuka from the south and attack Price. Meanwhile, Grant himself advanced from Corinth with 8,000 men to block Price's movement north.
On September 19, Rosecrans's vanguard surprised Price southwest of Iuka. Price struck back with Brigadier General Lewis Henry Little's division, and the tough Confederate veterans badly mauled Rosecrans before night halted the battle.
Realizing that he was caught between two Federal columns, Price retreated south during the night. The following morning, Rosecrans occupied Iuka and ordered a pursuit. Rough terrain, poor roads, and a stubborn Confederate rearguard ended the pointless chase by late afternoon. Price slipped away safely to Baldwyn.
In late September, using his seniority to control Price's movements, General Van Dorn - in command of the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana - ordered Price to join him at Ripley for an advance on the Corinth rail junction, key to Federal defenses in northern Mississippi. Van Dorn gambled that victory at Corinth would force Grant to evacuate west Tennessee.
On October 3, Van Dorn and Price hurled 22,000 men against Corinth's outer defenses, held by Rosecrans's 23,000 troops. During the long, hot day, the tenacious Confederates forced Rosecrans to fall back two miles. Night halted the fighting, with Rosecrans holding the city's inner line of defensive redoubts.
The next morning, Van Dorn threw a massive frontal assault against the Union fortifications, penetrating them at several points. But artillery and rifle fire from the redoubts cut the exposed Confederate brigades to pieces. Repulsed, and having sustained devastating losses, Van Dorn retreated west towards the Hatchie River, slowly pursued by Rosecrans.
On October 7, 7,000 Union troops, sent by Grant from Bolivar, Tennessee to intercept Van Dorn, caught the Confederates at Davis' Bridge. Forcing Van Dorn's vanguard back across the river, the Federals seized the
The Approach to Iuka
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