The Battle of Perryville

My Old Kentucky Ghosts

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The small town of Perryville was the site of the largest battle in Kentucky during the War Between the States. In one day, October 8th, 1862, nearly eight thousand lives were lost. General Braxton Bragg and his men initially defeated the Union forces, but an overwhelming supply of troops from the north eventually forced the Confederates to retreat. The Battle of Perryville marked the end of the Confederacy in Kentucky. This allowed the Federal Government to move in and draft Kentuckians into the Union Army, though a great many Kentucky soldiers continued to fight for the Confederacy. After the Confederate troops retreated, the Union troops returned to the site and buried their own dead, leaving the Confederate soldiers to decay in the sun. With so many young lives lost so quickly, itís no wonder that an eerie feeling still lingers there. Soldiers on horseback have been seen galloping across the bluegrass fields before vanishing into thin air. Many of the residents of Perryville have had more than one ghostly encounter.

When the battle was over and the Armies from both sides had left, volunteers from the town of Perryville got together and gave the Confederate soldiers a proper burial. The Confederate monument pictured above was dedicated to the memory of those soldiers. It reads:

NOR BRAVER BLED
FOR A BRIGHTER LAND
NOR BRIGHTER LAND
HAD CAUSE SO GRAND

Cotton Reynolds of Perryville tells of one grisly incident that happened after the battle - My great uncleís granddaddy was coming to town the next day after the Battle of Perryville to get coffee and sugar. The little creek branches were running red with blood. As he come over a hill, he saw a guy throw down a fence rail and run. He went on by there and said a soldierís leg was sticking out of the ground. He wasnít buried good and had on a pair of stripped pants. He come on to town and got his coffee and sugar. When he went back by, the soldier had been reburied. He said he saw his neighbor wear them stripped pants a many a day after that. That neighbor had dug the soldier up for his pants. He died and never did tell which neighbor it was.

Karen Wheeler, who has a store on Merchants' Row in Perryville, describes seeing a Confederate soldier while living in a house along one of the main roads leading to the battle field - We were upstairs playing, me and my brother, and we had a downstairs door attached to the stairs. We heard the door handle open, and we heard footsteps of someone walking up the stairs. We hollered for my dad because we thought it was him. We were like, ďDad is that you?Ē but nobody answered. When we turned around and looked, there was a form in the middle of the doorway that was gray. You could see that it was a Confederate soldier; he had the hat, the whole nine-yards uniform on, but you could see right through him. He grinned this little eerie grin that still makes the hair on my arms stand up. It was like a, ďSee me, but Iím not really here,Ē kind of grin. We screamed, and he just disappeared. The road this house is on was used as the main road to the battle. That would explain any ghosts experiences there.

The Karrick-Parks House, pictured above, was used as a hospital after the battle. Itís said that nearly every house in town was used to hold wounded soldiers during this time. In at least one case, itís reported that amputated arms and legs were stacked to a second story window.

Merchantís Row in Perryville seems little changed since antebellum times. An opera house was once housed there, and one of the buildings was used as a casket factory after the battle. Merchantís Row has itís share of ghost stories also.

Karen Wheeler describes another encounter with the unexplained she had while working late one night at her store on Merchants' Row - I was hanging up a mirror, and I heard a creak in the floor behind me. When I looked down in the mirror, I saw a shadow - a gray shadow. They were right in front of the mirror. I about fell off the ladder when I turned around to see who it was; there was no one there. And then I heard the floor squeaking back here. I called my husband and told him something had just happened. It was at nighttime, and I was trying to be brave and not freak myself out worse. I went to hang another picture, and then it sounded like somebody was walking. At that point, I just put everything down and left because there have been so many ghost stories associated with this place. This building was used as an opera house in the 1800s, and it was also used as a merchantís store at one time. And in another incident, I had some wreaths hanging on a shelf. When I came in one morning, they were all the way across the room on the floor.

A View of Perryville's Merchants' Row

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