Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Battle of Iuka

The Civil War Sesquicentennial is ongoing. Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Iuka, in northeastern Mississippi. Two Union forces, one under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant and his commander General Ord were supposed to coordinate an attack on Confederate General Sterling Price's forces with General Rosecrans and his Army of the Mississippi. Rosecrans informed Grant that his army was running late due to bad weather so Grant ordered Ord to wait until he could hear the sound of fighting before engaging the confederates. Ord and Grant claim to have never heard the fighting so Rosecrans had to take on Price's forces without Ord's help. The battle was largely a draw though Price's forces withdrew from Iuka.

This is one of the excellent battlefield maps from the Civil War Preservation Trust. The positions are color coded by time of day and the topography is also helpful in understanding the battle conditions. The yellow area is land that is preserved by the trust. The modern roads provide some helpful context, but it's also a bit distracting to see a highway exit ramp in the middle of an 1862 battlefield.

For some context, this battle was part of the Kentucky Campaign of 1862 where both sides attempted to swing the war through control of this neutral state, as well as control of the Mississippi River. This map, via Wikipedia shows the western theater. Iuka is at the southernmost part of this campaign.


This battle is interesting because of the claim of Grant and Ord to have not heard the fighting. According to various web sources there was an "acoustic shadow" where the wind direction may have made it difficult for Ord to have heard the fighting. However, there was also clearly a rivalry between Grant and Rosecrans that may have contributed to the lack of support for Rosecrans. Also, the Army of the Cumberland web site speculates that Grant may have been too drunk to bring up his army.

1 comment:

Michael5000 said...

"Fall back orderly from the onramp to the median, boys; our snipers will provide cover from the overpass!"