Iuka: The Wrap Up
On the far left flank, the 4th Minnesota was spooked by the fight for the 11th Ohio's position and had pulled back out of the clearing they were stationed in and into the tree line behind where the regiment became badly disorganized. This created an even larger gap between them and the rest of Hamilton's division further south. The regiment took no real part in the fight except to open fire on the advancing Mississippians moving up to exploit the gap that had opened up with the withdrawal of the 16th Iowa. The Minnesotan fire was largely ineffectual, but it did cause some confusion within the Mississippi ranks, which in turn resulted in some friendly fire incidents. The combination of friendly fire and the volleys of the Minnesota regiment compelled the Mississippians to withdraw, thinking they had run into a fresh Federal brigade.
Both sides settled into an uneasy night, the result of the battle far from decided. The north had suffered heavy casualties, but the regiments quickly bounced back and reformed, ready for the following day. The rebel regiments did the same, but they, as a division, had lost much more.
|Brigadier General Lewis Henry Little (CSA)|
With the loss of Little the Confederate army lost its initiative. The reinforcements Little had ordered to push forward never received their orders and they simply stood down as nighttime approached. Campfires lit up and the men of both armies spent an eerie night amongst the dead and dying.
During the late hours of 19/20 September, Price's general staff tried to reason witht he grieve-stricken commander. He could not make any straight decisions, however he insisted that he would continue the fight against Rosecrans at first light. However, his advisors had received very convincing evidence that Ord's army was rapidly approaching from the north and with him General Grant. To stay where they were would certainly risk being cut off and surrounded by Union forces. After many long hours they finally convinced Price to retire from the battlefield. The withdrawal would begin at 5am.
Rosecrans, who was busily preparing his lines for the battle he was sure would come at first light, discovered Price's intention to withdraw only after most of the Confederate army was on its way south. Cavalry was sent out ahead to try and cut the rebels' retreat route, but they were unable to get through the Confederate rearguard. With a heavily damaged army, Rosecrans was forced to let Price go, a decision shared by Generals Grant and Ord.
And so ends the story of the Battle of Iuka. Price's defeated army retreated and eventually joined Van Dorn in an ill-fated attack on Corinth. Rosecrans' command returned to Corinth to oversee the city's defenses and once again met Price and defeated him. With the victories of Iuka and Corinth, the Grant was poised to establish his famous siege of Vicksburg and thus seal the fate of the western campaign and with it the hopes and dreams of those damned dirty rebels.