Perryville in the Crucible of War

Perryville in the Crucible of War (HMV8S)

Location: Perryville, KY 40468 Boyle County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 38.946', W 84° 57.099'

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— The Battle for Kentucky October 8, 1862 —

As the Union and Confederate armies deployed around Perryville on October 7 and 8, the city's inhabitants found themselves caught in the middle. Many residents fled the town in haste, taking whatever belongings they could collect. Other civilians endured the battle in cellars or in the cave by the Chaplin River. As far as can be determined, no civilians died during the fighting onOctober 8, 1862.

Bragg's army abandoned Perryville on October 9, retreating northward toward Harrodsburg. Buell's soldiers found it to be a ghost town. The street fighting left significant scars on the city; artilleryman O.P. Cutter commented that "the buildings, as we passed along, presented the appearance of hard usage from the effects of the battle of Wednesday. Nearly every house was more or less riddled with shot and shell." Another man described the town as "deserted and left desolate by its once happy inhabitants."

As Buell's army moved on in pursuit of the retreating Confederates, legions of wounded and suffering men of both sides moved into town. Almost all buildings became hospitals, and the area was overwhelmed by the several thousand casualties resulting from the fighting. Army surgeons and civilian doctors labored to save who they could, but were hampered by poor supplies, continued drought, and the sheer numbers of wounded. Perryville's Dr. J.J. Polk housed 10 wounded in his house (331 South Buell Street), and also ministered to 40 more in another location. The suffering and dying lasted until March of 1863.

"As the First Kentucky Cavalry was moving to the position assigned it that morning [October 8], we met a number of wagons loaded promiscuously with household goods, apparently thrown in at random, with youths, maidens, and children riding on top of the plunder, getting away from the threatened carnage in the greatest haste possible. The author remembers one handsome maiden in particular - or at least she would have been handsome if her features had not been so contorted with fright - whose heartrendering screams haunted him for many days."
Sergeant E. Tarrant, 1st Kentucky Cavalry (US)
HM NumberHMV8S
Placed ByThe Perryville Enhancement Project and the Louisville Civil War Roundtable
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 5th, 2014 at 1:07pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 680703 N 4168856
Decimal Degrees37.64910000, -84.95165000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 38.946', W 84° 57.099'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 38' 56.76" N, 84° 57' 5.94" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)859
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 302 S Buell St, Perryville KY 40468, US
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