To this he received reply from Van Dorn asking that the armies meet at Rienzi, and he issued orders for a march to that place to begin on the morning of the 20th. "About the same time," Price reported, "I received from the enemy a demand to lay down my arms because of certain victories they pretended to have gained in Maryland [Sharpsburg]. I replied to the insolent demand through the commanding officer of my cavalry force."
According to Van Dorn's official report he was on his way advancing north into Tennessee, driving back Hurlbut to Bolivar, Tenn., which was precisely what Grant sought to have him do. Grant had instructed Hurlbut to make a demonstration toward Grand Junction, near where Van Dorn lay with 10,000 men.
Thereupon Grant massed his three divisions at hand against Price, Rosecrans marching from Jacinto with 9,000 men (his report), and Ord with 8,000 north of the railroad. In his report of the battle which followed, Grant candidly stated that his object was to destroy or capture Price's entire army. In this he was defeated by the valor of the Confederate troops.
So it happened that about noon on the 19th, before Price was under way for Rienzi, and when his army was posted rather to repel an attack from the north than the south, his pickets were driven in by Rosecrans' advance on the Jacinto road. Gen. Henry Little, who commanded one of the two divisions of the army, was ordered to meet this attack. He sent Louis Hébert's brigade about a mile south on the Jacinto road, where it took position to defend the cross-roads, where one branch turns off east toward the Fulton road from Iuka. The possession of the latter road by the Federals would have entirely cut off Price’s communication with the south, while Ord was pushing forward on the north. But Price, apparently, was not aware of the seriousness of the situation.
About four o’clock Sanborn's brigade of Hamilton's division came up and formed line of battle, and the fighting