|On October 8, 1862, U.S. Major General Don Carlos Buell and Confederate General Braxton Bragg led their troops into a day long battle outside the Kentucky town of Perryville. With total troop counts at 72,196 (16,800 Confederate, 55,396 Union), it was the largest battle fought in Kentucky. More than 7,600 men were killed, wounded or missing. It was the last serious attempt by the South to gain control over the border/neutral state of Kentucky. While the Confederates won the battle, when a truce was called and it was time to gather the dead and wounded the Confederates realized just how outnumbered they were. Though tactically they had won the day, the Confederates retreated from the field and it was therefore claimed as a Union victory.
Today the Perryville Battlefield is one of the most unaltered Civil War sites in the country; it is said that vistas that are visible today are virtually the same as what soldiers saw in 1862.
What is unique from TCWP’s perspective is that in order to see most of the battlefield markers you have to walk instead of the typical drive-through you see in many other battlefields. With over seven miles of walking trails, visitors will come across over forty interpretive signs marking key locations and actions. There is also a shortened walking trail (approximately one mile) that will allow you to see the majority of the key sites. A driving trail is also available, allowing visitors to view the overall landscape and puts one close to a few markers.
All walking and driving tours are self guided; the museum has maps available. The battlefield is open from dawn until dusk (April through October) and the cost of admission is free.
It is advised that you check the website for current museum and battlefield hours of operation; the museum is open limited hours compared to the battlefield itself. There is a cost of admission for the museum, which includes a 15-20 minute video, artifacts from the battle and a lot of storyboard information on the people and actions taken during the battle. The museum staff are very helpful and friendly, and enhance the visitors experience.
Just a short walk from the museum are two monuments: a Confederate monument erected in 1902, and a Union monument erected in 1931.
The Perryville Battlefield website has been designed as an educational tool, so it is recommend that you take some time to go through it even if you don’t visit the battlefield.
The first Saturday of every October there is a re-enactment of the Battle of Perryville; participant and visitor information can be found here.
Photography is allowed inside the museum and on the battlefield. A gift shop is also located on the property along with picnic areas.