The following article contains an eyewitness
description of the bloody fighting near the village of Perryville in Boyle
County, Kentucky during the second year of the American Civil War.
This account is from an undated letter written about 10 days after the
fighting by Major George
T. Simonson, the then third-in-command of the 80th
Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
At the time of the fighting the
80th was one of the regiments in the 34th Brigade commanded by Col. George P. Webster
[who was killed during the battle], in the 10th Div. commanded by Brig. Gen. James Jackson
[who was killed during the battle], in the 1st Corps commanded by Maj. Gen. Alexander McDowell McCook,
in the US Army of the Ohio commanded by Maj. Gen. Don Carlos
Buell [who was removed from command after the battle].
Abbreviations used on this page include: Brig.=Brigidier;
Capt.=Captain; Co.=Company; Col.=Colonel; Div.=Division; Feb.=February;
Gen.=General; Ind.=Indiana; inst.=instance; Jun.=June;
Lieut.=Lieutenant; Maj.=Major; Mar.=March; Oct.=October;
U.S.=United States; '62=1862; and '63=1863.
Source: Princeton Clarion newspaper,
Princeton, Gibson Cty., Ind., Oct. 25, '62. Courtesy of Sam I.
Chesnut, Great Grandson of Pvt. Thomas J. Chesnut
Co. A, 80th Ind., who was wounded in action
there, and is named in the article. Note: Information has been added
[within brackets] to correct or clarify details in the article.
Dear Friend Kurtz;
For the purpose of giving a
little information to all, I write you a very hasty account of the
battle of the 8th inst.
The cannonading began early in the
morning. The general engagement of infantry commenced fifteen
minutes before 2:00 p.m. and closed about one hour before
dark. The position of the 80th was about the center of the
line of battle, just to the left, and supporting Harris' Battery.
The rebels under
Bragg [Confederate Maj. Gen. Braxton
Bragg] advanced directly in our
front for the purpose of [capturing] Harris'
Battery, which annoyed them very much [with its
shelling]. This column of rebels was
in our uniform and carrying stars and stripes. This I saw
having been requested by General [sic] Webster.
I rode out in front of our lines 200 yards, which was in the woods,
and saw this column moving on our regiment which was lying at the
crest of a bald hill. They opened fire on me and Capt. Lewis'
Company [Capt. William D. Lewis
commanding Co. I of the 80th], which at the
time was deployed as skirmishers, killed two of his men in this
fire. I rode up to General Webster and reported facts.
By this time the rebel devils had filed into line in
our front and taken their respective tree to fight behind. We were ordered to fire and did so
firing 60 rounds while holding position. At this time the
firing became general and we were for an hour and a half under three
separate fires from the enemy -- one column firing on our right
oblique, another left oblique, and another direct in front.
We drove them from our front, when they
changed position right and left, when we were ordered to change
position and receive them on the right of Harris' Battery. As they
came through a corn field they were in plain view and we literally
mowed them down.
The fighting was said by old soldiers and
Generals to be terrific, and the hardest contested battle they ever
saw -- this was said by both Donelson and Shiloh heroes
[men who had been at the battles of Fort Donelson and Shiloh,
Bragg retreated at
once towards Harodsburg [Harrodsburg in Mercer Cty., Ky.]
and Danville [in Boyle Cty.,
Ky.], leaving unburied his dead, and our
surgeons are taking care of many of his wounded while his surgeons
have their hospitals in our lines.
In our regiment we lost: killed 24, wounded
117, missing 33. Having engaged 450 men, our casualties are
grevious [sic] indeed.
While engaged the Col. [Lieut. Col.
Lewis Brooks commanding the 80th] sent Sergt. Maj. Slack [believed to be
Edward W. Slack] on my horse for more ammunition and he, with the horse, was captured. I am left afoot and am nearly naked -- all I had being on my saddle except my trunk which was left at Louisville.
Adjutant Owen [1st Lieut. Alfred Dale Owen
is among the missing. We know Slack was captured because they had Asst. Surgeon Culbertson
[Robert H. Culbertson F&S]
and released him, holding Slack still a prisoner; also Joseph Small [Pvt.
Joseph Small Co. A], and Steven Stewart [Pvt.
Stephen T. Stewart Co. A], with an ambulance which they had on the field and got over in the rebel lines, were captured. This was just at the close of the
I would like to give you a detailed account
and description of the battle and battlefield, but the only
opportunity we may have for some time to write is now, and I am
hurried to close.
I will write again when opportunity offers.
forgot the mention that I can compliment all of the 80th and
particularize no one for they behaved with great coolness and
bravery, taking ammunition from dead and wounded companions to keep
up their supplies.
Enclosed please find a list of killed and
wounded from Company A:
Co. A KILLED: Sergt. E.D. Glick [Erasmus P.
Glick], Corporals A. Parmenter
J.W. Wilson [John W. Wilson],
and J.C. Triplet [Frederick C.
WOUNDED: Privates W.C. Lamb [Whitman C.
Lamb], hip [survived];
J.S. Wallace [Samuel J. Wallace],
hand [survived and returned to 80th];
E.W. Givens [Edward W. Givens],
side and arm [survived, but discharged from the army Mar.
23, '63 due to his wounds]; S.C. Polk
[Silas C. Polk],
head [survived and returned to 80th];
T. Chestnut [Thomas J. Chesnut],
arm and foot [survived, but discharged from the army Mar.
15, '63 due to his wounds]; W.H. McCracken
[William H. McCracken],
leg [survived, but discharged from the army Jun. 29, '63
due to his wounds]; J. Marlet [John
Marlet or Joseph Marlet],
head [survived and returned to 80th];
J.H. Ashmead [John H. Ashmead],
both legs [survived and returned to 80th];
J. Carithers [James Carithers],
head [survived, but discharged from the army Feb. 5, '63
due to his wounds]; E. Kimball [Elisha
[died of his wounds Oct. 18, '62 at Perryville];
E.P. Estes [Zebulon P. Estes],
seriously [survived, but discharged from the army due to