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Battle of Perryville
Harper's Weekly Article

The following article is transcribed from Harper's Weekly Journal of Civilization, dated November 1, 1862.

          Perryville is a small place of about 500 inhabitants. It is now entirely evacuated by residents, and several of the houses have been destroyed by the shells. Of the battle a Times  correspondent gives the following account.

          When McCook and Rousseau appeared before the town they found the immense forces of the enemy most advantageously posted to meet them. The rebels were posted on a long range of hills, extending in a crescent form from north to west, the terminal of the crescent being almost due north and due west, with its inner centre precisely northwest. This semicircular range of hills formed their advance, and on these hills the rebel generals exhorted their soldiers to dye their colors deep in the blood of the enemy rather than surrender them. These hills are about a mile a half from Perryville. Behind this range of hills, and between them and the Big spring, there are two other high hills, along the left base of which is a cornfield, and along the right base the tortuous coarse of the Spring, to the right of which is the extensive and finely shaded woodland forming the corn-field, and angling a little south of west, beyond the western terminus of the advance crescent, there is a strong stone fence, behind which the enemy posted a part of the infantry. Under the brow of the semicircular range of hills the rebel batteries were placed in admirable position, sustained by their infantry - who could fire with destructive effect, and then screen themselves behind the hills and among the grass and weeds. In front of the enemy's right there is a narrow valley of meadow-land, after descending which you come into a skirt-woods. Facing the enemy's centre there was a cornfield, which extended, a little broken, for several hundred yards back to the woods. Facing the stone fence is a stretch of waste land, gently sloping parallel with the fence to the woods. Behind the fence there is heavy timber. The rebels were commanded by their chosen and favorite generals. Bragg was on the field in person, and assumed general command. Buckner led the centre, Hardee the right, and Polk and the left wing. General Cheatham had the reserve, while General Brown who commanded the Third Tennessee Regiment at Fort Donelson, and who, with Buckner, surrendered, and served a term at Fort Warren. Since his exchange he has received a Brigadier General's commission. He is, I believe, a nephew of Niel S. Brown, of Tennessee. So much for the position of the enemy. Now let us look at our own.

          The approach of Gilbert's Corps, with McCook, Rosseau, and Mitchell, was well known to the rebels. Our men had made forced marches through hear and dust, over a rough road, and through a country utterly destitute of water. Their arrival in the morning was hailed by a shell from the enemy's battery. Notwithstanding the formidable array before us, and notwithstanding the advantages of position the enemy had, our men prepared for action. Harris's battery was planted on our left, Loomis's on the right, with Parson's and Simonton's between the two. McCord was chief in command on the field, and Rousseau second. General Jackson, with his brigade, was posted on the left, Rousseau in the centre, while the right was led by General Mitchell. We opened upon the rebels at 1 o'clock on the 8th. The most sauguinary battle of the war commenced. The enemy opened all their batteries upon us. Soon the whole rebel artillery let their guns loose upon us. The hills shook to their base, as one livid sheet of same poured across them. Shell would whiz through the air, fall at the point of their aim and burst, dealing death all around. Solid shot went screaming across the field, cutting great gaps through the ranks. Mingling with the terrific roar of cannon, near the shrill hiss of grape and canister, thinning our the troops - literally mowing them down, and piling them in mangled swaths over the field and across the hills. Next come the crash of musketry, quick, loud and incessant. The noise of these guns blended with that of the artillery in tumultuous roar. Never, perhaps, was there a battle fought at so short a range, and never were fires so murderous and destructive. The battle commenced at 1 o'clock and had reached its height at 3. for an hour now it was a succession of advances and repulses, first one side advancing and then falling back before their infuriated pursuers. On the right a desperate attempt was made to flank the reinforcing columns of McCook, which was for a time partially successful, some of the new regiments wavering and staggering under the galling cross-fires poured upon them. The scene was terrific. Dense smoke rolled all over the field, while the hills were literally enveloped in sheet of fire. The thunder of of cannon and crash of musketry can be compared to nothing I have ever heard. The simultaneous falling and splitting of thousand forest trees might perhaps be something like it.

          Harris's Battery which, as stated, was posted on our right, poured grape and canister into the ranks of the advancing rebels, and literally paved the slope with their dead bodies. Yet, on and on came these fierce rebels, over heaps of dead of their own, to within forty yards of that death-dealing battery. Again and again would they recoil with decimated ranks from the terrible machines of death. Determined yet to take that battery, they charged down the slope and through the hollow, diagonally across, from toward the centre, and there one of the regiments supporting it fell into confusion. Still the battery maintained its ground, right in the face of fearful odds; and again the rebels were driven back with fearful slaughter. Parson's Battery, to the right of Harris's, in the mean time had been dealing destruction in the ranks of the foe. The enemy, in overwhelming numbers, and with determined exasperation, closed in upon this battery and succeeded in capturing it. They subsequently spiked the guns and cut the wagon-wheels to pieces. In taking this battery the rebels lost fearfully, our men fighting like heroes against their superior advance. In the early part of the action, General James S. Jackson was killed. He was cooling giving some order on the left. He and General Rousseau had been in conversation. Rousseau turned to toward the centre, and Jackson deliberately lighted a cigar; just as he had light it, a ball from the enemy struck him, killing him almost instantly. Jackson was a member of the National Congress from the Second District of Kentucky. He resigned his seat to draw his sword for Constitutional liberty. The nation mourns no truer patriot; the army no braver soldier. About this time, also, Colonel Terrell, one of the bravest and most skillful officers of the service, fell mortally wounded, while engaged in pointing a battery under fire of the enemy. The First Wisconsin, Colonel Starkweather, had engaged the First Tennessee rebel regiment on the left, and warm work was going on. The ground was sharply and gallantly contest for hours, with apparently no decisive results, the fire of the First Wisconsin thinning the ranks of the enemy at every round.

          The Twenty-third Indiana, toward the centre, covered itself with honors. Their flag was planted near the centre of the field, and the regiment was raked by the crescent-shaped batteries and cross-fires from the rebels. Their ammunition gave out, and they heroically threw themselves upon their faces, the balls of the enemy passing over them in a perfect shower. This regiment suffered severely, one-third of its men being killed or disabled. Their flag was riddled into strings and shreds, and its staff splintered by the enemy's bullets. Yet they kept it waving, and preserve its torn fragments as a memorial of their bravery upon that bloody day. McCook and Rousseau both pronounced this a much severer than they were at any time at Shiloh. The Twenty-third Indiana was now happily relieved. Further to the right the immortal Tenth Ohio, of the Seventeenth Brigade, under Colonel Lytle, who was Acting Brigadier, stood their ground firmly for hours in a perfect rain-storm of shot and shell. At length their leader, the high-souled and heroic Lytle, fell dangerously wounded. The Tenth Ohio was now withdrawn. The battery of Captain Loomis, which had all day piled the enemy in heaps, was now threatened by the enemy, who were throwing their dense columns forward with a view of surrounding and capturing it. The battery was withdrawn toward the wood, but continued to hurl its leaden death-messages at the enemy. A part of Gilbert's command now came superbly into action on the left, driving the enemy before them, though into action on the left, driving the enemy before them, though suffering heavily from the fire poured upon them from the stone fence. General Webster was in the mean time killed, as was also Colonel Jouett, of the Fifteenth Kentucky. The first advantage gained by the enemy in the centre was by one of those acts of perfidy which they have never been slow to exhibit. A rebel Colonel, with National uniform on, advanced along to the centre, where the brave Indianians were exposed, and shouted, "Hurrah for the old Hoosier boys!" He was met as a comrade, and by deception the rebels were permitted to advance to within a few yards of our men. A most unexpected and murderous fire was poured upon us from two sides, without our regiment even returning it. The Indiana boys were of course stunned and thrown into temporary confusion. The battle having raged fiercely now for five hours, and the men being exhausted with slaughter, just as night began to conceal the field of death and of blood, the combatants ceased their awful work. Our troops fell back a short distance under cover of the woods, worn and exhausted with their hot day's work. A portion of the rebels held possession of the larger part of the battlefield. We had but twelve thousand troops on the field, which contended with the combined forces rebel forces, fully forty thousand strong.

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