Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle

Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle

by Kenneth W. Noe
     
 

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Winner of the Seaborg Award A History Book Club Selection On October 8, 1862, Union and Confederate forces clashed near Perryville, Kentucky, in what would be the largest battle ever fought on Kentucky soil. The climax of a campaign that began two months before in northern Mississippi, Perryville came to be recognized as the high water mark of the western

Overview

Winner of the Seaborg Award A History Book Club Selection On October 8, 1862, Union and Confederate forces clashed near Perryville, Kentucky, in what would be the largest battle ever fought on Kentucky soil. The climax of a campaign that began two months before in northern Mississippi, Perryville came to be recognized as the high water mark of the western Confederacy. Some said the hard-fought battle, forever remembered by participants for its sheer savagery and for their commanders' confusion, was the worst battle of the war, losing the last chance to bring the Commonwealth into the Confederacy and leaving Kentucky firmly under Federal control. Although Gen. Braxton Bragg's Confederates won the day, Bragg soon retreated in the face of Gen. Don Carlos Buell's overwhelming numbers. Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle is the definitive account of this important conflict. While providing all the parry and thrust one might expect from an excellent battle narrative, the book also reflects the new trends in Civil War history in its concern for ordinary soldiers and civilians caught in the slaughterhouse. The last chapter, unique among Civil War battle narratives, even discusses the battle's veterans, their families, efforts to preserve the battlefield, and the many ways Americans have remembered and commemorated Perryville. Kenneth W. Noe holds the Draughon Chair in Southern History at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. He is the author of several books and articles.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A detailed account of how the Civil War engagement at Perryville, Kentucky, changed the lives of the soldiers, officers, and civilians who endured its brutality. Noe (History/Auburn Univ.) untangles the complicated events leading up to and during the crucial battle between the forces of Union General Don Carlos Buell and Confederate General Braxton Bragg. His analysis emphasizes the effects of the opposing commanders' personalities on their armies. Noe argues that Buell's sympathies for the Confederate cause combined with his meticulous planning to produce an operational timidity that mystified and infuriated his Union subordinates. Likewise, he asserts that Bragg experienced monumental mood swings, which undermined his self-confidence and allowed subordinate generals to pursue their own uncoordinated plans. Under the guidance of these weak commanders, the two armies blundered into each other on October 8, 1862. Since neither Buell nor Bragg understood that they faced the bulk of the other's armies, both generals made significant tactical errors: Bragg fed his regiments piecemeal into an inferno of Union artillery and small arms crossfire; Buell stubbornly refused to adequately reinforce his defensive lines or even believe that a major battle was unfolding until the combat was almost over. Making extensive use of personal letters and later interviews with the combatants, Noe vividly creates a horrific picture of the carnage that resulted from this incompetence, with many regiments suffering 50 percent casualties. He concludes that the heavy losses inflicted on Confederate forces constrained Bragg to abandon his attempt to capture Kentucky for the South, making Perryville asignificant turning point in Civil War's Western campaign. The definitive history of a key battle that demands thoughtful consideration by anyone interested in the Civil War. (maps, illustrations, b&w photos)
From the Publisher
"Noe artfully steers the combatants toward Perryville, provides a coherent account of that confused clash, and tells what it meant to soldiers and civilians caught in the maelstrom." — Society of Civil War Historians

"Casts new light on this epic struggle for Kentucky and restores it to a deserved place in the Civil War's pantheon of great campaigns." — Southern Historian

"This superb book unravels the complexities of Perryville, but discloses these military details within their social and political contexts. These considerations greatly enrich our understanding of war, history, and human endeavor." — Virginia Quarterly Review

"Noe writes with a fine eye for detail and a moving prose: his work is a first-rate historical narrative." — Wargamer

"Noe details in stirring prose backed by impressive research, the full dimension of the campaign and the battle that ended in a tactical victory yet could not win Kentucky for the South. In surely the most detailed and exhaustive study to date, Noe has produced in Perryville a work that will stand as the definitive word on a lost opportunity, and a lost dream." — William C. Davis

"Noe's well researched, well written Perryville is the best volume on arguably the least understood important battle during the Civil War. No Civil War buff will want to miss it." — William W. Freehling

"While providing all the parry and thrust one might expect from an excellent battle narrative, the book also reflects the new trends in Civil War history in its concern for ordinary soldiers and civilians caught in the slaughterhouse." — cmapaigns-books.blogspot.com

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813137148
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
Publication date:
10/01/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
520
Sales rank:
433,956
File size:
6 MB

Meet the Author

Kenneth W. Noe holds the Draughon Chair in Southern History at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. He is the author of several books and articles.

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