On this day in the Civil War, the largest battle in Kentucky is fought at Perryville.  President Lincoln recognized the strategic importance of Kentucky and stated, “I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game.”

The Federals engaged in the battle were 20,000, compared to Confederate troops totaling 16,000. Total casualties numbered 7,600 or 21% of all the soldiers involved in the battle. The battle ended in a tactical draw; however, the Confederates retreated, leaving the field to the Federal army. From this point forward, the Federal army controlled Kentucky for the duration of the war.

Confederate Private Sam Watkins fought for the South in almost every major battle in the Western Theater. His view of the ferocity of the Battle of Perryville was reflected by saying, “I was in every battle, skirmish and march that was made by the First Tennessee Regiment during that war, and I do not remember of a harder contest and more evenly fought battle than that of Perryville.”

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