General Price began to turn his attention toward
Corinth, after his failure to make a successful attack upon Bolivar.
Our Division, under General Ross, was ordered to
report at Corinth, to reinforce the garrison at that place. General
Price had concentrated his army at Iuka, twenty-eight miles east
of Corinth. We arrived at Corinth at mid-night, and next morning
encamped about three miles east of the town. We pitched tents
and worked hard all day to put camp in order, and to await General
Price's arrival. By sun-down we had got all things in good order,
and all felt happy in the prospect of a comfortable night's rest
and sleep, which the men much needed, heaving enjoyed neither
for three nights; but in the midst of our camp amusements and
heightened enjoyments, an order was received requiring us to report
at the railroad in one hour, and embark upon the cars and proceed
to Burnsville, and hold the place at all hazards until reinforcements
would arrive. The train that evening, near that place, had been
captured and burned by the enemy. We were soon off, and arrived
at the place, where we rested till morning, sleeping sweetly upon
the earth without shelter, under a heavy, continuous rain, which
abated little till the evening of the next day.
That day we moved forward to the next station, where our army was concentrating to meet General Price, or attack him and bring him to a fight. General Rosecrans with his Division in the meantime had gone round upon the right flank to cut off Price's retreat, and make an attack upon his rear, while we would attack him in front. The day was very disagreeable, so that little could be done by way of a forward movement. Colonel Force, with the Twentieth Ohio, made a reconnoisance and drove the pickets of the enemy within three miles of Iuka.
That night the Seventy-Eighth Ohio were ordered out on picket, which made the fifth night that the regiment had been on duty, and enjoying but little sleep and rest. The next morning was clear and pleasant. The rain had subsided, and all things were put in readiness for an immediate movement upon the enemy.
The brigade commanded by General Leggett moved in the advance. We advanced but two miles till we encountered the enemy's pickets and out-posts, eight miles this side of Iuka. About five o'clock in the evening we advanced to within a short distance of the town, capturing their inner posts and a small encampment. Here an extensive swamp intervened, through which there was but one road that troops could pass. This was strongly protected by infantry and artillery, and to attempt crossing that night, and bring on a general engagement, was impracticable. Defenses were thrown up, and our men rested on their arms during the night, waiting the arrival of the remainder of the troops and artillery, which kept pouring in nearly all night.
Next morning, after a cup of coffee and a few wormy crackers, the troops, under command of General Ord, our Brigade in front, advanced. Our skirmishers entered the swamp and steadily moved across, but encountered no enemy. They had left a few hours before day.
The troops crossed and pushed on by a quick march to the town, but to our astonishment the wary Price had escaped with his whole army, having cut through General Rosecrans' Division the evening previous. In this effort very severe fighting occurred. Rosecrans' force suffered very severely, being overpowered by five times his number; but gallantly did they sustain themselves against the attack of the rebels, upon whom they inflicted great loss. The wounded were being brought in to Iuka when we reached the place.
Here we rested till noon in the deserted camps of the enemy. The situation of the town is beautiful, and the place was before the war one of wealth and comfort. Here the wealthy resorted during months of