The Civil War Trust on Monday said it has preserved three properties totaling 70 acres associated with the 1862 Battle of Perryville.
Some of the Boyle County land was purchased as the result of a national fund-raising campaign conducted by the Trust earlier this year, and some acreage was donated by a private property owner. With the addition of these 70 acres on the northern part of the battlefield, the Trust has helped save 1,027 acres at Perryville, the site of Kentucky’s largest and bloodiest Civil War battle.
“Complete preservation of a battlefield is the Civil War Trust’s ultimate goal, the finest example of our mission at work,” said Trust President James Lighthizer in a release. “This victory at Perryville brings us within spitting distance of finishing our work there. Thanks to the generous contributions of our members, future generations of Americans will have the opportunity to visit this site and reflect on the sacrifices made.”
The tracts were purchased for $736,000 using grants from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. The Trust raised $297,500 in donations from members.
“The greatest achievement that we can accomplish is to completely preserve a battlefield or preserve all of the land that is still possible to preserve,” said Meg Martin of the Civil War Trust. “Perryville is one of the best examples of our mission at work. There’s just a few parcels left, and then that will reach completion.”
The amount of land that remained undeveloped since the Civil War at Perryville is rare to begin with, Martin said.
The latest preserved properties include a 430-foot long stone fence behind which Union Col. John Starkweather’s brigade stopped the advance of Gen. Benjamin Cheatham’s Confederate division, just 600 yards short of a Federal supply train.
The Trust’s ultimate goal is to transfer the properties to Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site to enhance interpretation of the battle’s closing, climactic stages. Martin did not know the timing of when that transfer will be complete.
The annual commemoration of the battle is Oct. 8-9. Advance tickets are available for sale through Oct. 5. To purchase advance tickets, visit: http://parks.ky.gov/parks/historicsites/perryville-battlefield/reenactment-schedule.aspx
In the summer of 1862, Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg launched an invasion of the key border state of Kentucky, hoping to divert Union attention from the Southern strongholds at Vicksburg and Chattanooga. The Battle of Perryville was a Confederate tactical victory, though the heavy fighting and bloodshed forced Bragg to retreat to Tennessee.
During the battle, the Confederates held an early advantage that they were able to exploit due to lack of communication among various elements of the Union force. Eventually reinforced, the Federal troops held their ground and pushed some of their attackers back into the town of Perryville itself. Confronted by a larger force and running low on supplies, Bragg withdrew toward Cumberland Gap. His army would never return to Kentucky.
The Civil War Trust is the largest and most effective nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of America’s battlegrounds. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, through its Campaign 1776 initiative, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. To date, the Trust has preserved nearly 43,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states, including nearly 2,400 acres in Kentucky.