Saved: 51 Civil War Acres at Perryville
In recent years, the American Battlefield Trust has made great strides at Kentucky’s Perryville Battlefield and the victories continue to pile up. In its most recent achievement at the Bluegrass State site, the organization has succeeded in protecting another 51.5 acres of story-filled land, bringing its preservation total there to 1,202 acres.
In contemplating the many stories scattered across Perryville’s soil, one should remember the assessment of Confederate soldier and memoirist Sam Watkins, who wrote, “I was in every battle, skirmish and march that was made by the First Tennessee Regiment during that war, and I do not remember a harder contest and more evenly fought battle than that of Perryville.” He spoke form experience, escaping the ferocious fighting physically unscathed, but with holes in his hat and cartridge box.
As Kentucky’s largest battle, fought on October 8, 1862, Perryville proved a consequential scene. The battle swirled around this 51.5-acre tract, which was the last remaining unprotected property that made up the wartime farm of John Russell. It was where the remnants of the Union army were pushed back when the Confederates leaned into their advantage. But it was also where Union forces marched on their way to halt the Confederate advance on Dixville Crossroads. With reinforcements turning the tide, the Federals overtook the field and seized victory.
Surrounded by land already owned by Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, this property is a connective puzzle piece that will allow visitors to furthermore engage with the consequential actions that unfolded upon it — especially once fully integrated into the park. In recognizing the tract’s ability to expand meaningful interpretation, the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program stepped in to support this preservation effort, which, in turn, increased the value of each donor dollar.
The Trust continues to imagine a more complete battlefield park at Perryville, exhausting every potential resource and collaborating with new and longtime partners to make each preservation opportunity come to fruition. But of our most valuable assets, the Trust’s members remain an integral part of our preservation efforts at not only Perryville, but at battlefields peppered throughout the United States!