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Rapid-Fire History: Battle of Perryville


Considered the “High Water Mark” for the Confederacy in the West, the Battle of Perryville was the most northerly major battle of the Civil War in the Western Theater. Fought on October 8, 1862, Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee fought to a draw with Union Major General Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio at the crossroads town of Perryville, Kentucky. There were some 72,196 combatants in the area during the battle, but only parts of the two armies were engaged at Perryville: about 20,000 Union and 16,000 Confederates. Sam Watkins, a soldier in the First Tennessee who fought through the war in most of the Western Theatre’s deadliest battles wrote, “I do not remember of a harder contest and more evenly fought battle that of Perryville.” The two sides combined suffered around 7,600 casualties: 4,200 Federals and 3,400 Confederates. Bloodied, short of supplies, angered that Kentuckians had not come forward to fight for the Confederacy, and outnumbered by Buell, Bragg abandoned his invasion of Kentucky, and he and General Edmund Kirby Smith pulled their armies back into eastern Tennessee. Kentucky would remain in Union hands throughout the remainder of the war.

Sources

American Battlefield Trust: 10 Facts: Perryville.

American Battlefield Trust: Battle of Perryville.

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson.

Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Civil War by James M. McPherson.

The Civil War by Bruce Catton.

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