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21 Readings About the Great Battles of the Civil War #4-- Battle at Perryville, Ky

General Braxton Bragg


General Don Carlos Buell

       (Oct. 8, 1862), in the American Civil War, engagement of Union and Confederate troops as General Braxton Bragg was leading the Confederates in an advance on Louisville, Ky., from Chattanooga, Tenn. Union troops, under General Don Carlos Buell, were marching from Louisville when they unexpectedly encountered the Confederate army. A bloody but indecisive battle ensued at Perryville, near Danville, Ky. Bragg's forces, though, held the field and continued to control the area until forced to withdraw three months later following the Battle of Stones River.  The battle is considered a strategic Union victory, sometimes called the Battle for Kentucky, since Bragg withdrew to Tennessee soon thereafter. The Union retained control of the critical border state of Kentucky for the remainder of the war.


The Border States, during the Civil War, were the slave states that didn't leave the Union. These states included Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. West Virginia, which separated from Virginia during the war, was also considered a border state.

To maintain the list of Border States, the President had to be very careful how the United States dealt with European countries.  Britain and other European countries could have made the Confederacy an officially recognized country.

Battle of Perryville
Battle of Perryville.png

Battle of Perryville – the extreme left – Starkweather's brigade

Date October 8, 1862
Location Boyle County, Kentucky
Result Confederate tactical victory
strategic victory
 United States  Confederate States
Commanders and leaders
 Don Carlos Buell
 Alexander McCook
 Braxton Bragg
Leonidas Polk
22,000 engaged 16,000
Casualties and losses
(894 killed
 2,911 wounded
 471 captured/missing)


532 killed
 2,641 wounded
 228 captured/missing

A  Letter from the Battle of Perryville

John Kennedy Street, Confederate

Friday, August 8th, 1862

Dear I shall attempt to give you a few facts in relation to the Battle of Perryville which was fought to-day. When we awoke this morning at Harrodsburg we could distinctly hear the heavy boom of cannon in the direction of Perryville which gave us to understand that our companions in arms were haveing hot works. I arose eat a snack, committed myself to the care and keeping of him who is truly “the God of battles.” By the time the sun was up Gen Smith had put our Brig. in motion and we were rapidly moving towards Perryville which we reached in an hour and a half. Heavy cannonading was going on between the two armies when we reached the battle field but the infantry had not yet gotten fairly to work. Gen Smith was immediately sent on the right of the left wing of the army – that position being just in the left of Perryville. Perryville is situated in a beautiful valley being surrounded on all sides by a beautiful range of hills – one of the grandest places in the world for a cannon duel. On the left wing of our army there was no fighting except heavy cannonading. About 10 o’clock the roar of small arms commenced on the right wing in earnest, the position ocupied by our division (Gen Cheatam’s) which suffered more in the fight than any other troops in the engagement. But as before stated our Brigade was detached to support the right of the left wind and left center of the army so that we failed to be in the hottest of the battle which perhaps for many of us was in itself a fortunate circumstance. The battle raged most fiercley for about 6 or 7 hours and was only stopped by the darkness of the night. About sundown our Brig. was ordered to shift its position from the left to the right of the town in doing so we were subject to a heavy fire of grape shell and cannister from the enemy’s batteries which he had planted on the hills opposite the town. In getting out of this position we got several men wounded in our brigade, two in our Regt slightly A. Sinclair in shoulder – member of G, Co I one: Sergt Browning in leg, wounds but slight. I am at a loss to know how it was that we escaped so fortunately for we were subject to a tremendous shower of grape cannister and shell which fell thick and fast right in to our ranks for about 15 minuets. Our batteries did good execution which were during this time replying to the batteries of the enemy who was soon beaten back under cover of the hills before the town. To sum up all; this days work has resulted in the loss of 2000 men on our side killed wounded and missing that of the enemy near 10,000. We drove them back for 2 miles captured 17 pieces of artillery and any amount of small arms all the troops who went in to the fight with old muskets come out with enfield and Springfield rifles. Thursday Oct 10th – We were again ordered back to our former position last night. We buried our dead last night and the enemy failing to show fight this morning, we left the battle field and proceeded back to Harrodsburg. As our Brigd was moveing off this morning the enemy ran his battery up on the hill he shelled up from yesterday evening and for about 10 minuets we were subject to a most grueling fire. We had to cross a pike in which the enemy had his battery planted and as we crossed this there were several of the most terrific showers of grape and shell fell into our ranks I ever experienced. Here Capt Lane (son of Col Lane of Bonham) commanding Co H was killed – was shot in the left side with a cannon ball which tore his intrels out. He lived about an hour and a half. Capt Lane and the two wounded yesterday was the only injury sustained by our Regt. The army have all got in to Harrodsburg by this time it now being 5 o’clock P.M. I was in the 32 Miss Regt this morning it sustained a heavy loss. Uncle D was shot in the left hip – prety badly wounded. I saw the wound it is a flesh wound – is not dangerous – he walked off the battle field without help. Lt Harvey, Uncle Mcs nephew was shot dead in the field struck in the breast with two balls wither of which would have killed him. Capt Tankersly was struck several times with spent balls but was not seriously injured. Columbus Street my cousin was not hurt. Thus dear I have passed thro’ the dangers of another battle and yet I am unhurt and enjoying good health. For this I feel truly thankful to the Disposer of events. I feel that I am in his hands and am willing to trust all to him feeling assured that he will do all things right. Dear I am anxious now to hear from home the last letter I had from you was dated 9th July and not one word since that. Darling I have not had a chance to write to you regularly but knowing the circumstances I know you will not think hard of me for it. I have of late had many thoughts of home. I know that the time for your confinement has passed and how you passed that ordeal I have no way of knowing. Have I a little boy or girl at home is it well – tis useless to ask all these questions. I leave all these things in the hands of God, and pray him that to all these the greatest good may result. I am still in the enjoyment of the finest of health for which I feel very thankful. Dear the army is a bad place for one to enjoy religion but notwithstanding the absence of almost all religious influences yet I still enjoy the sweets of Christianity. If I could not draw hapiness from this source bitter indeed would be my cup. I wish I were a better man. Pray for me my love – but I know you do this and I feel that I am benefited by it. I will close for the present dear. Good bye – God bless you my sweet one. Your K

From http://www.soldierstudies.org/index.php?action=view_letter&Letter=441


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