Serious Iuka Question

tony_gunter

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I was reviewing the communications or lack thereof between Grant and Rosecrans at Iuka, and I honestly cannot see where Grant ever approved a plan of battle for Iuka. Grants communications to Rosecrans seems to indicate he was hesitant because he was worried about his back door. Rosecrans communications to Grant seem to assume that they were to pitch headlong into the enemy with abandon.

it’s almost like Rosecrans had a different conversation playing in his mind.
 

jackt62

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I've recently been reading about Iuka and find the communications and situation a bit confusing. The big picture seems to be that Grant intended a pincers attack on Price's Army of the West; the two prongs of that attack would be Rosecrans' Army of the Mississippi and Ord's Division of the Army of the Tennessee. But only Rosecrans carried out his portion of the attack, which resulted in Price's withdrawal but not the destruction of his army as was intended had a full envelopment taken place. Which leads to the controversy as to why Ord did not participate in the battle as intended. There have been various explanations: 1) an "acoustic shadow" prevented Ord from hearing the sounds of battle emanating from Rosecrans' attack, which would have been Ord's signal. 2) Grant attempted to parley with Price about surrender terms, unbeknownst to Rosecrans' who commenced his portion of the assault. 3) Grant was intoxicated and not in a position to coordinate the assaults or to communicate with Ord and Rosecrans' in order to carry out what was a difficult maneuver.

So it appears that Grant did in fact sign off on the overall battle plan, but the failure to carry it out as planned is the big question.
 

Joseph A. Rose

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What I see is that Grant (OR 17:1:65-66) wrote on 10/22/62 that: Having satisfied myself that Van Dorn could not reach Corinth under four days with an army embracing all arms, I determined to leave Corinth with a force sufficient to resist cavalry and to attack Price at Iuka. This I regarded as eminently my duty, let either of the theories of the enemy's plans be the correct solution. Accordingly on the 16th I gave some general directions as to the plan of operation. General Rosecrans was to move on the south side of the railroad to opposite Iuka and attack from that side with all his available force after leaving sufficient force at Rienzi and Jacinto to prevent a surprise on Corinth from that direction. Major-General Ord was to move to Burnsville, and from there take roads north of the railroad and attack from that side.

In his Memoirs, Grant wrote that: On the morning of the 18th of September General Ord moved by rail to Burnsville, and there left the cars and moved out to perform his part of the programme. He was to get as near the enemy as possible during the day and intrench himself so as to hold his position until the next morning. Rosecrans was to be up by the morning of the 19th on the two roads before described, and the attack was to be from all three quarters simultaneously.

So, there was a plan, but Grant misdescribed it by leaving out the part that Ord was to attack first.

Rosecrans described it to Grant on 10/29/62 (OR 17:1:72): "I telegraphed you, proposing that the force from Burnsville should attack the rebels from the west and draw them in that direction, and that I would move in on their rear by the Jacinto and fulton roads and cut off their retreat. Your approval of the plan having been received, I ordered Stanley to concentrate his division at Jacinto on the 18th, where they had all arrived by 9 p. m."
 
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jackt62

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Location
New York City
The unsatisfying outcome at Iuka was also the start of Grant's enmity towards Rosecrans. Grant initially credited Rosecrans with his partial victory but seemed to revise his thinking when the full story was made clearer about the lack of action by Ord and Rosecrans' decision to halt his pursuit of Price's fleeing force.
 

Joseph A. Rose

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I should state that Grant did get Rosecrans' plan for a pincer attack in which Ord's force would attack first, but Grant claimed that he changed it when he learned that Rosecrans was running late:

I immediately dispatched to General Ord, giving him the substance of the above and directions not to move on the enemy until Rosecrans arrived or he should hear firing to the south of Iuka. Of this change General Rosecrans was promptly informed by dispatch sent with his return messenger. During the day General Ord returned to my headquarters at Iuka [Burnsville?], and in consultation we both agreed that it would be impossible for General Rosecrans to get his troops up in time to make an attack that day. The general was instructed, however, to move forward, driving into the enemy's advance guards, but not to bring on an engagement unless he should hear firing.
 

DanSBHawk

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Location
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I was reviewing the communications or lack thereof between Grant and Rosecrans at Iuka, and I honestly cannot see where Grant ever approved a plan of battle for Iuka. Grants communications to Rosecrans seems to indicate he was hesitant because he was worried about his back door. Rosecrans communications to Grant seem to assume that they were to pitch headlong into the enemy with abandon.

it’s almost like Rosecrans had a different conversation playing in his mind.
In the Papers of US Grant, volume 6, page 64-65, is the communications between Rosecrans and Grant. Rosecrans sends this telegram on Sept 18:

One of my spies in from Beardons, on the Bay Spring road tells of a continuous movement since last friday of forces Eastward. They say Van Dorn is to defend Vicksburg, Breckenridge to make his way to Kentucky, Price to attack luka or go to Tennessee.—If Prices forces are at luka the plan I propose is to move up as close as we can tonight, conceal our movements, Ord to advance from Burnsville, commence the attack, and draw their attention that way, while I move in on the Jacinto & Fulton roads, massing heavily on the Fulton Road, and crushing in their left, cutting off their retreat Eastward. I propose to leave in ten minutes for Jacinto from whence I will dispatch you by line of Videttes to Burnsville. Will await a few minutes to hear from you before I start. What news from Burnsville.'"​

Grant replied by telegram:

General Ross' command is at this place. McArthurs Division is north of the road 2 miles to the rear, and Davies' Division South of the road nearby. I sent forward two Regiments of Infantry with Cavalry by the road, north of rail-road towards luka, with instructions for them to Bivouac for the night at a point which was designated, about four miles from here, if not interrupted, and have the Cavalry feel where the enemy are. Before they reached the point of the road (you will see it on the map, the road north of the Rail-road) they met what is supposed to be Armstrongs Cavalry.​
The Rebel Cavalry was forced back and I sent instructions then to have them stop for the night where they thought they could safely hold—​
In the morning troops will advance from here at 4 1/2 A. M. An anonymous dispatch just received states that Price, Magruder, and Breckenridge have a force of 60.000 between luka and Tupelo.—This I have no doubt is the understanding of Citizens, but I very much doubt their information being correct.​
Your reconnoissances prove that there is but little force south of Corinth for a long distance and no great force between Bay- Springs and the rail-road​
Make as rapid an advance as you can, and let us do tomorrow all we can—It may be necessary to fall back the day following. I look upon the shewing of a Cavalry force so near us as an indication of a retreat, and they a force to cover it. 15 minutes to 7 P. M.​
 
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DanSBHawk

2nd Lieutenant
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May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
The unsatisfying outcome at Iuka was also the start of Grant's enmity towards Rosecrans. Grant initially credited Rosecrans with his partial victory but seemed to revise his thinking when the full story was made clearer about the lack of action by Ord and Rosecrans' decision to halt his pursuit of Price's fleeing force.
Grant started having other problems with Rosecrans as well. Like negative newspaper stories that seemed to originate out of Rosecrans HQ.
 

jackt62

1st Lieutenant
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Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Where? I mean, seriously. Where in any of the communications between the two did Grant okay that plan of action?
I think "Make as rapid an advance as you can, and let us do tomorrow all we can" is an implied approval.

Also see @Joseph A. Rose post #9. Moreover, as Rosecrans' Army of the Mississippi was under the overall jurisdiction of Grant's District of West Tennessee it would be improbable that Rosecrans would mount any operation without superior authorization.
 

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