The Darkest Days of the War

The Battles of Iuka and Corinth

By Peter Cozzens

408 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 18 illus., 11 maps, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5783-0
    Published: August 2006
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2039-8
    Published: December 2017
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6830-5
    Published: December 2017

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During the late summer of 1862, Confederate forces attempted a three-pronged strategic advance into the North. The outcome of this offensive--the only coordinated Confederate attempt to carry the conflict to the enemy--was disastrous. The results at Antietam and in Kentucky are well known; the third offensive, the northern Mississippi campaign, led to the devastating and little-studied defeats at Iuka and Corinth, defeats that would open the way for Grant's attack on Vicksburg.

Peter Cozzens presents here the first book-length study of these two complex and vicious battles. Drawing on extensive primary research, he details the tactical stories of Iuka--where nearly one-third of those engaged fell--and Corinth--fought under brutally oppressive conditions--analyzing troop movements down to the regimental level. He also provides compelling portraits of Generals Grant, Rosecrans, Van Dorn, and Price, exposing the ways in which their clashing ambitions and antipathies affected the outcome of the campaign. Finally, he draws out the larger, strategic implications of the battles of Iuka and Corinth, exploring their impact on the fate of the northern Mississippi campaign, and by extension, the fate of the Confederacy.

About the Author

Peter Cozzens, author of several acclaimed Civil War campaign studies, is an independent scholar and Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Department of State.

For more information about Peter Cozzens, visit the Author Page.


“A tightly written, fast-paced, well-reasoned narrative that is solidly researched and will hopefully give the battles of Iuka and Corinth the attention they deserve.”--Journal of Southwest Georgia History

“[Cozzens] does an excellent job of placing this campaign in the context of the war. . . . The Darkest Days of the War easily qualifies as the definitive work on this campaign.”--Blue & Gray

"The Darkest Days of the War will surely be the definitive work on these sadly overlooked but interesting and significant campaigns."--Earl J. Hess, Civil War History

"A perceptive, balanced survey of the battles at Iuka and Corinth in Mississippi."--The State (Columbia, SC)

"The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka and Corinth brings to startling life the vicious fights at these two important north Mississippi towns in September and October of 1862. . . . Cozzens' treatment is fast-paced and exciting as he tells with precision and flair of the personalities of the commanders and their subordinates, the small unit movements and the deadly nature of the fighting."--The Orlando Sentinel

"An illuminating account of an 1862 Confederate campaign in northern Mississippi, whose importance may only be matched by the obscurity into which it has fallen and the grand mistakes made by its planners. . . . An excellent case study of how army politics, miscommunication, and missed chances could decisively influence a campaign."--Kirkus Reviews