Civil War Trust Preserves 70 Acres at Perryville Battlefield
(Perryville, Ky.) – The Civil War Trust today declared victory on three properties totaling 70 acres associated with the historic 1862 Perryville battlefield. This latest preservation success story was the result of a national fundraising campaign conducted by the Trust earlier this year. With the addition of these 70 acres, 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. “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 by our forbearers.”
This latest effort at Perryville preserves an area known as the “Western High Water Mark of the Confederacy,” the farthest point reached by the principal Southern army in the Western Theater. The fighting on this property was intense, and the remains of many Union soldiers still rest on this section of the battlefield.
The tracts were purchased for $736,000 using grants from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program matched by donations from thousands of dedicated Trust members. Some of the acreage was also donated by a private landowner. 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. The properties also feature a 430-foot long stone fence behind which Union Col. John Starkweather’s brigade finally stopped the advance of Gen. Benjamin Cheatham’s Confederate division, just 600 yards short of a Federal supply train.
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 the 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 hallowed 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 close to 43,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states, including nearly 2,400 acres in Kentucky.
The Civil War Preservation Trust became the Civil War Trust in January 2011; the Civil War Trust became a division of the American Battlefield Trust in May 2018. Campaign 1776 was created in 2014 as an initiative of the Civil War Trust; in May 2018 it became the Revolutionary War Trust, a division of the American Battlefield Trust.