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Battle of Iuka
New York Times Article

The following article is transcribed from the New York Times, dated October 19, 1862:


Official Report of Brig., Gen. Hamilton.

HEADQUARTERS, THIRD DIVISION, ARMY OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Sept. 23, 1862. Col. H.G. Kennett, Chief of Staff:


SIR: I have the honor to report that my division, the First Brigade leading, marched from Jacinto on the morning of the 19th instant, to attack the enemy at Iuka. One-half mile west of Burnett's the advanced pickets of the enemy were first encountered, in a deep ravine. A battalion of the Third Michigan Cavalry, by dismounting a body of skirmishers, soon drove the enemy from his cover; soon after passing Burnett's the cavalry were thrown to the rear, and a battalion of the Fifth Ohio deployed as skirmishers. From this time our advance was warmly contested. The enemy's sharpshooters occupied every position of defence, making the last five miles of the march a steady contest, a constant skirmish. At Mrs. MOORE's house, four miles from the battle-ground, the action became quite hot. Lieut. SCHRAUME, of the Benton Hussars, one of my bodyguard, was mortally wounded, and a number of our skirmishers killed or wounded. The enemy was steadily driven before us, and with constant loss. When within two miles of the battle-field, the battalion of the Fifth Iowa skirmishers was relieved by an equal force of the Twehty-sixth Missouri, and the forward movement of the column pressed. When the head of the column had reached a point on the brow of a hill at the cross road two miles from Iuka, it was halted for the purpose of reconnoitering, and the line of skirmishers pushed rapidly forward. This line had not advanced more than 300 yards when they came upon the enemy drawn up in great force, and occupying a strong position along a deep ravine running transversely with the main road, and behind the crest of the hill. I was in position just behind the line of skirmishers, and saw at a glance that the moment for action had come. The skirmishers were driven back on the head of the column, and the attack by the enemy immediately began. The ground occupied by the head of my column was on the brow of a densely wooded hill, falling off abruptly to the right and left. The underbrush and timber was too thick to admit of deployments, and the most that could be done was to take a position across the road by marching the leading regiments into position by a flank movement; this was done under a heavy fire of musketry, grape, canister and shell. The Eleventh Ohio Battery was with difficulty got into position on the crest of the hill, where it could command the road in front of us. The Fifth Iowa, under the brave MATTHIAS, being the leading regiment, was the first in position in the woods to the right of the road, with its left resting near the battery. The Twenty-sixth Missouri, under the resolute BOOMER, immediately took position on the right of the Fifth Iowa. The next regiment in the column, the Forty-eighth Indiana, under the brave Col., EDDY, took position on the left of the road, a little in advance of the battery, and with its left thrown forward so as to cover the open field on their left with their fire. This was the position when the battle opened on our side, I directed each of those regiments into position myself, and they were taken by the troops, under a heavy fire, with the steadiness of veterans determined to conquer. The battle thus opened, with but three regiments in position. The rebels were commanded by Maj.-Gen. STERLING PRICE in person, who had arrayed against us no less than eighteen regiments. I saw the importance of holding the position we had assumed, and gave each regimental commander orders to hold every inch of ground at every hazard. As the remaining regiments of the First brigade came up the hill, I threw them into position to protect the flanks of our little line of battle, the Fourth Minnesota, under command of Capt. LEGRAND, the Sixteenth Iowa, Col. CHAMBERS, the former on the left and the latter on the right of our line, in rear and en echellon. The battle at this time had become terriffic. The enemy in dense masses bore down in front, on the right and left, showing a determined purpose to envelop and crush the little band in front. The ground admitted of no more forces being brought into notion in front, and our position must be held, for the enemy once forcing it, his overwhelming masses would have passed over the hill and fallen on our unformed column in the rear. Brig.-Gen. SULLIVAN, having reached the rear of the battle-ground with the head of his brigade, placed one of his regiments, the Tenth Iowa, under the gallant PERCZEL, with a section of the Twelfth Wisconsin Battery, on the road across the ravine and open field on our extreme left and finding no more of his forces could be brought into immediate action, placed them in position in reserved, and came gallantly to the from, asking to be of service. I immediately placed him in charge of the right of the line in front, with instructions to hold the ground and see that the right flank was not turned by the, heavy force of the enemy moving in that direction. Col. SANBORN, in command of the First Brigade, most gallantly held the left in position until, under a desolating carnage of musketry and cannister, the brave EDDY was cut down, and his regiment, borne down by five times their numbers, fell back in some disorder on the Eightieth Ohio, under Lieut.-Col. BARTELSON. The falling back of the Forty-eighth exposed the battery. As the masses of the enemy advanced the battery opened with canister at a short range, mowing down the rebels by scores until, with every officer killed or wounded, and nearly every man and horse killed or disabled, it fell an easy prey. But this success was short-lived; the hero SULLIVAN rallied a portion of the right wing, and with a bravery characterized as audacity, drove the rebels back to cover. Again they rallied, and again the battery fell into their hands, but with the wavering fortunes of this desperate fight, the battery again fell into our hands; with three of its guns spiked and the carriages cut and splintered with balls, it is again ready to meet the foe. White these events were transpiring along the road, the brave Gen. STANLEY had come to the front, and joining his personal exertions to mine the regiments that had fallen into disorder were rallied and held in position to the close of the battle. One of STANLEY's regiments, the Eleventh Missouri, coming up fresh and eager for action, was pushed into the right, when uniting its efforts with the Fifth Iowa and Twenty-fifth Missouri, it made a most gallant fight and aided much, first in holding our ground against the enemy, and afterwards driving him back in confusion to the cover of the ravine from which the attack was begun. An attempt to turn my left flank by a heavy force of the enemy, moving up the open field and ravine on the left, was most signally repulsed by Col. PERCZEL with the Tenth Iowa and a section of IMMELL's Battery. So bravely was this attempt repulsed that the enemy mane no more attempts in that direction. After this repulse the Fourth Minnesota was withdrawn from the left, and ordered to report to Gen. SULLIVAN on the right, where it did good service to the close of the action. This completed the movements in the front, and the battle was fought and won in this position. The Thirty-ninth Ohio, of STANLEY's Division, coming up during the heat of the contest, could not be placed in position to take an active past, owing to the want of ground, and was placed in reserve near the log church. From 5 P.M. until darkness prevented distinguishing friend from foe, the battle was fought along the road and to the right of it by the Fifth Iowa, the Twenty-sixth and Eleventh Missouri, with a bravery which scarcely admits of a paralel. The enemy, confident in the heavy force they had deployed, pushed on with frantic desperation, but they were met by a greater heroism, and, though often rallied and driven to the charge, they were as often met and hurled back to their cover. Against this little front the fiercest of the battle was waged. Col. BOOMER was cut down by a terrible wound, but his regiment held their ground undismayed. The Fifth Iowa, under its brave and accomplished MATTHIAS, held their ground against four times their number, making three desperate charges with the bayonet, driving back the foe in disorder each time, until with every cartridge exhausted, it fell back slowly and sullenly, making every step a battle-ground and every charge a victory. Night alone closed the contest, and left us in possession of the field so bravely won. For a detailed report of the operations of each regiment. I respectfully refer you to the reports of subordinate commanders herewith submitted. I am indebted to the able and cheerful assistance rendered by Brig.-Gen. STANLEY, whose division, with the exception of one regiment, the Eleventh Missouri, being in the rear, could not take an active part. To the commanders of brigades, Gen. SULLIVAN, whose personal exertions and bravery contributed very largely to our success, and to Col. J.B. SANBORN, who in this, his first battle, exhibited a coolness and bravery under fire worthy a veteran, I am greatly indebted. These commanders, STANLEY, SULLIVAN, and SANBORN, I cordially commend to the favoranle notice of the Government. The reports of brigade and regimental commanders do justice to those who were conspicuous in this daring contest. I cordially unite in all they have said, and were it in my power would do personal honor in this report to every hero. To my personal staff I am under the deepest obligations. Capt. R.M. SAWYER, A.A.G.; Capt. D.P. ALLEN, A.C.S.; Lieut. E.F. PIERCE and W.F. WHEELER, Aids-do-Camp, here my orders through the [???] of the battle; intelligent, capable and brave, their gallant conduct is worthy of and will receive the honor rightly their due. My Division Surgeon, J.E. LYNCH, was unceasing in his efforts in his own department, and to his enemy and [???] the greatest [???] is due for the prompt and efficient were of the wounded. Capt. [???], in conveying order along the line, [???] regiments, out by his [???] a [???] fire, [???]. [???] at a slight but honorable wound, while bearing orders in the face of the enemy. Capt. BURCHERDT, commanding my personal escort, did excellent and gallant service in rallying men to their standards. He was seriously hurt by the fall of his horse. Much of the time I was without a single officer of my Staff, and was forced to send messengers by Orderlies; two of them, Corporals WHITE and HILL, did excellent service, and I beg to commend them to the notice of the General Commanding. To the commanders of batteries, Lieut. SEARS and Lieut. L.D. IMMELL, the highest praise is due for their unyielding bravery and the skill with which their pieces were handled. Lieut. SEARS was severely wounded, and left his guns only when his officers, men and horses were nearly all killed and disabled, and when the battery was fairly in the enemy's hands. In closing this report, I shall be permitted to embody this summary. On the 19th inst., my division marched 19 miles, fought a desperate battle with seven regiments against a rebel force under Gen. STERLING PRICE of not less than eighteen regiments, won a glorious victory, lying at night on their arms on the field their valor had won, and the following morning chased the fleeing enemy for fifteen miles, and the pursuit was discontinued only when the powers of nature were exhausted. The records of war may well be challenged to produce a victory under circumstances and odds so desperate. No words of mine can add lustre to the brilliancy of this victory, and no award of praise, given to those who were miles away from the battle-field will detract from the glory justly due to those heroes who won this audacious victory. The fearful list of killed and wounded in the few regiments actively engaged, shows with what heroism and desperation this fight was won. I say boldly that a force of not more than 2,800 men met and conquered a rebel force of 11,000, on a field chosen by PRICE, and a position naturally very strong, and with its every advantage inuring to the enemy. A list of casualties is herewith submitted. It is known that 263 rebel bodies were buried on and near the field, all their severely wounded, numbering over 400, fell into our hands; the number of able-bodied prisoners who fell into our hands is large. I report, with the highest satisfaction, but 26 missing from my command. Over 800 stands of arms were gathered up on the battle-field, mostly of improved patterns, showing that the rebels are not wanting in this essential means of making war. Dead of my Division number......................352 Wounded .........................................175 Missing........................................... 26 Total........................................688 Respectfully submitted. (Sig ne,) S.S. HAMILTON, Brig.-Gen. Com'dg 3d Division. NOTE. -- Staff and escort of Brig.-Gen. HAMILTON. Officers wounded....................................2 Privates killed.....................................[???] The General's horse was shot under him.

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