kcwsa/kentucky civil war sites association

Perryville Battlefield – History Lives Here!

Amidst the rolling Kentucky hills, in the second year of America’s bloodiest war, some 40,000 American soldiers stood face to face, in a vicious fight for the all important Commonwealth of Kentucky. Across those quiet farm fields, Kentucky’s fate was sealed and the small farming community of Perryville and its people would forever be changed.

The Kentucky Campaign of 1862 began as General Kirby Smith’s forces entered Kentucky and quickly defeated the Union forces of General Bull Nelson at Richmond. Shortly after that the Confederate Army of Mississippi charged into Kentucky engaging at Munfordville and then advanced toward Central Kentucky. The Union Army of the Ohio commanded by General Don Carlos Buell left Louisville, Kentucky on a forced march that would eventually lead to Kentucky’s bloodiest Civil War Battle.

In the small crossroad farming community of Perryville, Kentucky these two great armies fought throughout the day of October 8, 1862. The vicious fighting raged throughout the countryside for miles and when the battle was over nearly 2,500 men lay dead and another 5,000 wounded or missing. Confederate General Braxton Bragg quickly discovered that although he had won the day, he did not have the forces to hold the field. The Confederates retreated from Perryville and eventually withdrew back into Tennessee.

The outcome of the battle and the inability of the Confederate forces to maintain their presence in the state assured that Kentucky would remain in the Union. With the defeat of Bragg’s Army at Perryville and Lee’s defeat at Antietam the Confederate offensive that began earlier that summer was quashed. With the repulse of the advancing Confederate Armies, President Abraham Lincoln captured the political clout to issue the Emancipation Proclamation giving the war a new meaning.

After the war, the veterans who had struggled on Perryville’s Battlefield returned for commemorations and reunions. On October 8, 1902, forty years to the day of battle, a crowd of at least 5,000 gathered to watch the unveiling of the Confederate soldier atop the monument marking the graves of the Army of Mississippi’s dead. The preservation of Perryville Battlefield continued throughout the 20th Century and now in the 21st Century the park contains nearly 800 preserved acres, and continues to grow.

Ed Bearrs, National Park Historian Emeritus, proudly claims that Perryville is one of the best preserved battlefields in the United States. We are very proud to say that if a Civil War soldier, who fought here in 1862 could visit now, he would simply say, “I know this place, it is Perryville.”

The park’s educational and preservation mission is on-going. Visitors to the park will experience miles of walking trails, a newly refurbished museum, museum store and numerous different educational programs that are regularly presented. The small community of Perryville also retains much of its wartime appearance and many of the buildings on Merchant’s Row are open for visitors as well.

We warmly welcome you to Perryville Battle – History Lives Here!

Visitor Information:
Website: http:// www.perryvillebattlefield.org
Phone: 859-332-8631
Contact Person: Joni House
Contact Email: [email protected]