This segment tells the story of the Battle of Perryville, which took place in Boyle County, Ky., in October 1862. Historian Kent Masterson Brown discusses the importance of the Battle of Perryville for the course of the Civil War. It was crucial because the Union Army successfully drove the Confederate Army from Kentucky and ended its attempt to recapture the state.
Battle of Perryville
The Civil War, or the War Between the States, was fought throughout our country from 1861-1865. Tensions between the northern and southern states had been brewing for some time when Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860. His election caused seven southern states to secede from the Union and four more followed shortly thereafter. During this dark time in our history, families fought against one another; brotherhood and justice were questioned. The democratic ideals that founded the Americas were challenged by actual practices of society. When the Confederacy surrendered in 1865, more than 600,000 soldiers had already lost their lives, and the country was devastated physically and emotionally.
The Battle of Perryville occurred on October 8, 1862 between the Union forces of Major General Don Carlos Buell and the Confederate forces of General Braxton Bragg. The battle left an estimated 7,400 soldiers dead. Perryville was a strategic Union victory because it forced Confederate troops out of Kentucky. Bragg’s army retreated by way of the Cumberland Gap into East Tennessee. The Confederate offensive in Kentucky was over, and the Union controlled Kentucky. The Battle of Perryville is sometimes referred to as the Battle for Kentucky as the Union’s victory secured the critical border state for the remainder of the war. The Battle of Perryville is often overshadowed by other famous Civil War battles such as Gettysburg and Antietam.
Thus, the battlefield in Perryville, Ky., is visited less often by Civil War buffs. However, unlike many battlefields of the Civil War, Perryville is nearly the same as it was 140 years ago. Rock walls still stand, and one can still walk the paths taken by the Union and the Confederacy. The battlefield in Boyle County, Ky., is beautifully preserved and is an important reminder of our forefathers who fought to uphold the democratic principles of our great country.
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