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Battle of Perryville, Kentucky


Nearly 150 years ago today, in early October of 1862, Union General Don Carlos Buell halted the invasion of Kentucky by Confederate forces at the Battle of Perryville.

Two Confederate forces, under the command of General Braxton Bragg and General Edmund Kirby Smith, entered Kentucky in August of 1862. Their hope was to raise troops, as well as regain territory lost over the summer.

Bragg captured a Yankee garrison at Munfordville on the 28th of August and Smith dispersed Union forces in Richmond on August 30th. But, despite these victories, Confederates received a disappointing response from Kentuckians. They’d hoped the people of Kentucky would join with the Confederate army, but a strong Union presence, as well as sentiments in the state, prevented this. In both Louisville and Cincinnati, 80,000 new Union recruits drilled, while Buell’s army contained 78,000 men. As a result, Kentucky residents refused to take up with the Confederacy.

Buell marched his men toward Bragg and Smith’s armies. Bragg attempted to install a provisional government in Frankfort. General Leonidas Polk confronted the Union lines west of Perrville. The assault drove part of the Federal army into disarray, but Buell sent two brigades to shore up the sagging line. An attack by Confederates on the right side of the Yankee line was repulsed. Nightfall halted the fighting and Bragg withdrew.

4,200 of the 23,000 Yankees were killed, wounded, or missing, while 3,400 Confederate soldiers, out of 15,000 were lost. The Confederates retreated into Tennessee. Buell did not pursue them, so was replaced by General William Rosecrans.

The Confederates abandoned their invasion of Kentucky and the state remained in Federal hands for the remainder of the war.

For more on this battle:

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  1. I am surprised Kentucky ended up on the northern side. How interesting.

  2. Gerri Bowen says:

    This was all new to me, Susan. Thank you!

  3. Very interesting. Thanks for another great post, Susan.

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Paisley, Gerri and Ally! Kentucky was sort of a border state and I know Quantrill’s Raiders were active in attacking towns they believed harborned abolitionists and Union sympathizers.

  5. Wonderful post. I had ancestors in the Union army and they were from around Knoxville, TN.

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