If you take a look at a modern map of the Perryville battlefield and overlay it with the troop movements from the battle in 1862, you will see a gaping hole at the center. That hole – 128 acres in size – is the largest remaining part left to save at the site of this important Civil War battle fought in Kentucky. Just this week, the American Battlefield Trust announced its latest campaign to save those crucial 128 acres at Perryville.
Remarkably, the Perryville battlefield is almost entirely preserved. Over 1,000 acres of hallowed ground there is under protection. Once the Trust and its supporters purchase the land, over 90% of Perryville will have been saved. This is an unprecedented feat for battlefield preservation efforts.
The American Battlefield Trust – and its historians – have studied the tract’s role in the Battle of Perryville. The Trust’s website describes the tract saying, “The first attack of the day unfolded on the property we hope to save in this campaign. After a midday bombardment, Confederate Major General Benjamin Cheatham’s mostly-Tennessee brigades began their fateful advance toward the Union position. All of these troops, three brigades, crossed this property in grand lines of battle, some climbing steep banks and cliffs along the Chaplin River to get into position.”
Ultimately, the Confederate assault, “eventually ran out of steam (and ammunition) just as Union resistance (and counterattacks) began to exact a high toll.” Bragg felt had no choice but to withdraw.
The Trust concluded that, “The Battle of Perryville had lasted just five hours and been among the most ferocious of the Civil War. While Perryville was a tactical victory for the Confederacy, it was an important strategic victory for the Union that left Kentucky in Union hands for the remainder of the war.”