Monday, October 8, 2012
150th of the Battle of Perryville, KY
CS General Braxton Bragg (left) & US General Don Carlos Buell (right).
Today 150 years ago the 16,000-man Confederate Army of the Mississippi (soon to be Army of Tennessee) of CS General Braxton Bragg clashed with the 22,000-man Union Army of the Ohio (soon to be the Army of the Cumberland) of US General Don Carlos Buell met in the field of battle near Perryville, KY.
Map of the Kentucky Invasion of CS General Braxton Bragg. [Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com]
That late summer of 1862, as Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, invaded Maryland, so to, in the Western Theatre, the other major Confederate field army, that of Bragg, invaded the border state of Kentucky. Indeed, the Commonwealth of Kentucky had a fair number of Confedeate sympathizers, and Bragg would spend some time installing a Southern government in the Bluegrass State. In pursuit was the Union force of Don Carlos Buell. He was under great pressure from the administration to engage the Southern host, as it was already October. A feint by the Union commander as his forces marched Southeast from Louisville insured that he would have greater numbers than his Confederate foes.
Opening dispositions of the two armies at Perryville, KY. [Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com]
The two arms fought the Battle of Perryville in warm, and dry conditions, owing to a drought that had impacted the region that year. Indeed, opposing groups of skirmishers looking for water marked the opening of the battle.
Here is the NPS description of the battle: http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/abpp/battles/ky009.htm
The battlefield itself is maintained as part of the Kentucky State Park system: http://www.perryvillebattlefield.org/
Like the Battle of Antietam the month before, the Battle of Perryville was marked by intense fighting and heavy losses. Bragg lost 20% of his engaged force at Perryville, 3,396, while Buell had 4,211 Union casualties. Likewise, it ended with both forces still on the field of battle, and, also like Antietam, the strategic situation meant that the Confederates and Bragg would have to abandon the invasion and fall back into Tennessee. In a final clear parallel -- General Buell would be relieved of command for his sluggish pursuit of Bragg, as General McClellan would be removed for his failure to follow-up on his "victory" over Lee at Antietam.
Both theatres would see mighty clashes come December...