Fight for Kentucky
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 following the battle, headed for eastern Tennessee. Thus a major Confederate incursion to take Kentucky ended with the Union in control of the border state. The Union's strategic victory was not without a cost. Perryville's bloody combat claimed more than 7,400 in dead, missing and wounded on both sides – but more heavily on the Union side. Elsewhere, The Associated Press reported in early October of 1862 that Abraham Lincoln's preliminary Emancipation Proclamation stirred anger in the Southern slave states and Confederate calls to redouble the fight. One AP dispatch quoted The Richmond Whig newspaper as saying Lincoln's proclamation aiming to eventually free of slaves in states in rebellion was tantamount to "ordering servile insurrection in the Confederate States." Said The Richmond Whig, it was "a dash of the pen to destroy four thousand millions of our property, and it is as much as a bid to the slaves to rise in insurrection – with assurance of aid, from the whole military and the naval power of the United States."