Illinois Regiments in the Battle of Perryville
(Perryville, Kentucky)
(October 8, 1862)


In late 1862, Confederate General Braxton Bragg led an invasion into Kentucky. His aim was to bring Kentucky into the Confederacy, gather supplies and recruits in this untouched region, and give battle to Union General Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio. Bragg was joined by troops under General Kirby Smith striking north from Knoxville through the Cumberland Gap. Through most of the campaign, Bragg and Smith kept their armies separate and did not coordinate their efforts.

Buell left a defensive force in Nashville and started his army north unsure of Bragg's intentions. Buell's principal concern was that Bragg would strike for Louisville which was relatively undefended. Bragg's army headed for the capital at Frankfort allowing Buell to get between Bragg's army and Louisville.

Both armies were split and somewhat unsure of the others location. Near the town of Perryville, thirsty groups of soldiers from both armies began fighting to control access to the only water in the area. Darkness suspended the skirmishing, but it promised to be a bigger fight in the morning. Buell's 22,000 men formed in line along the hills west of Perryville during the night. 16,000 Confederates formed on the east side of the river. Bragg was certain he was only facing a portion of the Union army and was intent on destroying this portion of it the next day.

Fighting over the water supply went back and forth with distinction being won by a new Union division commander Brig. General Philip Sheridan. Fighting at Perryville was intense but largely inconclusive. The southern portion of the Union army was not even engaged. Bragg finally realized that night that he was facing the full Union army and pulled back. Buell's forces did not pursue.

In the aftermath of the battle, the Confederates returned to Tennessee with the vast supplies they captured, somewhat disheartened by the lukewarm reception they got from the natives of their "sister" state. The number of new recruits did not even match the losses his army sustained in the campaign. On the Union side, Buell's lack of agressiveness finally led to his replacement. Just prior to the battle of Perryville, orders arrived for General George Thomas to take command from Buell, but he asked that the orders be postponed as they were on the eve of a battle. The request was accepted, but it had its effect in Washington. When Buell was sacked for not pursuing Bragg back into Tennessee, his replacement was General William Rosecrans. Thomas had to settle for a corps command. The Army of the Ohio was redesignated the Twelfth Army Corps and was later known for the remainder of the war as the Army of the Cumberland.

The Illinois regiments which took part in the Battle of Perryville are listed below. The links will take you to the regimental pages.

Source: Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Dyer's Compendium

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