After the Fight            

 

 

 

          The night after the first day of fighting, generals Bragg, Polk, and Hardee met to discuss their situation.  They had gained the advantage throughout the course of the day, however they had suffered heavy casualties in comparison to number involved for the Confederates.  The tired, outnumbered Rebels could be crushed when fighting started back up again the next morning.  The only way to save what was left of the army was to retreat.(Harrison 54)  The next morning, an Indiana soldier described the bloodshed, “The spectacle presented by the battlefield was enough to make angles weep.  It beggars the description.(mountaingrown)”  The Federals had suffered 845 killed, 2,851 wounded, and 515 missing.  Confederate losses were also heavy with 510 killed, 2,635 wounded, 251 missing.(Randall 408)  On October 9th, 1862, Bragg pulled out of Perryville and retreated to Harrodsburg where he hoped to pull all of his forces together.  However, the Federals were beginning to threaten Harrodsburg, causing Bragg to retreat to Bryantsville, his supply base.  Southern calvery units brought in reports that the Federals planed to cut them off from Cumberland Gap.  Finally aware of their dangerous situation, the Confederates began to join their forces for a defense.  General Kirby Smith arrived at Harrodsburg on October 10th and General Polk led his men across the Dix River, now Herrington Lake, in the direction of Bryantsville.  With the Federals closing in, Bragg was forced to form a battle line along the Salt River.  On October 12th, Bragg got together Smith, Polk, Cheatham, and Hardee to discuss their future plans.  Convinced that the invasion of Kentucky had been a failure, Bragg decided that he had to preserve what was left of his army to help stop a Yankee invasion of the South.(Harrison 54)  General Buell followed the Confederates as far as London, Kentucky but never did attack.  Buell stopped the pursuit at London where he planed to redirect his army to Nashville, Tennessee and start a penetration into the deep South.  Leaders of the Union armies criticized his plans for not wiping out Braggs army when he had the chance.  Many thought he was a coward and were not convinced with his plans.  Buell started his march toward Nashville anyway, but by the time he had reached Bowling Green, Kentucky, he was replaced as commander of the army.(56)

          The Battle of Perryville was one of the most crucial battles of the Civil War, even though many historians down play the significance of the fight due to the complex way the events played out.(Randall 409)  The 2,500 native Kentuckians who had joined the Confederate “cause” fell extremely short of the expected 20,000 to 30,000 volunteers.  The supply wagons still carried the thousands of unused rifles that were to arm the Kentucky soldiers, back to Tennessee.  General Bragg had said earlier that his army could not even stay in Kentucky unless a large number of Kentuckians would join it.  He later wrote, “Why then should I stay with my handful of brave Southern men to fight for cowards who sulked about in the dark to say to us, ‘We are with you, only whip these fellows out of our country, and let us see you can protect us, and we will join you.’”(Harrison 55)  Such comments helped to make Bragg the most hated general of the Confederates among Kentuckians.(ngeorgia) 

          The Confederate failure to advance farther into Kentucky after Perryville, along with the defeat at Antietam, Maryland, crushed hopes for the recognition of the Confederacy as a separate nation by Great Britain and marked the beginning of the end for the South.(civilwar)          

 

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