This week 150 years ago, Kentucky’s biggest Civil War battle was fought at Perryville, or Chaplin Hills.
A border state coveted both by North and South, Kentucky was at the crossroads of the Civil War, and Confederate and Union fighters fought on Oct. 8, 1862, in its crossroads town of Perryville.
Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg had invaded Kentucky in the fall of 1862, nearly reaching Louisville before falling back. In central Kentucky, more than 50,000 federal troops caught up with Bragg’s army, and skirmishing on Oct. 7, 1862, led to a wider battle the next day at Perryville.
Savage combat saw Confederate fighters pummeling a Union flank, then forced back under a Union counterattack. Fighting raged for hours. But in the end, the weary rebels under Bragg retreated at night after the battle, headed for eastern Tennessee. Thus a major Confederate incursion to take Kentucky ended with the Union in control of the border state.
Perryville’s bloody combat claimed more than 7,400 in dead, missing and wounded on both sides – but more heavily on the Union side.