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Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  80 ratings  ·  15 reviews
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
Hardcover, 520 pages
Published September 21st 2001 by University Press of Kentucky (first published August 2001)
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Dennis Fishel
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
A WHOLE lot of detail in this book about an often-overlooked but extremely bloody Civil War battle. The maps were sparse and showed static positions without a quick and easy illustration of troop movements, so understanding on-site situations was a little difficult. There were also quite a number of typos to wade through; a fully-awake proof reader would have been an asset. But all in all, Kenneth Noe is to be admired for the massive amount of intricate research he had to have done to create thi ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: civil-war
Braxton Bragg's campaign into Kentucky in the late summer and early autumn of 1862 is an often neglected chapter in Civil War history. Noe's book explores the campaign based on use of primary and secondary sources. While solid, the author's digressions into retrospective psychoanalysis are a bit silly and lessen the credibility of the book as serious history. Nevertheless, it is worth reading. Like many university press histories, however, it is degraded by poor maps. It is a solid two star effo ...more
Brian Miracle
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although I have read on the Civil War for a while, I confess to not knowing much about the Battle of Perryville. I bought this book (widely acknowledged as one of the best on the battle) while visiting the battlefield. This is a fine account of the battle, the largest on Kentucky soil, and the events just before and after it. It especially focuses on the fighting on the Union left and center, where the fighting over those few afternoon hours of October 8, 1862 was as fierce as that seen at Shilo ...more
Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well done, detailed battle narrative

Noe has provided a masterly, intimate and detailed treatment of the campaign and battle. His dense narrative of the action is in places hard to follow, though this battle, one of the hardest fought actions of the war, is inherently confusing. Noe addresses the failings of leaders on both sides. The quality of the Generals does not impress; the courage and endurance of the soldiers astonishes.
Mark Harden
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: civil-war
One of the best Civil War campaign books I have read. Covers not only the battle itself, but the land and people, including post-battle stories.
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. I visited the park years ago without understanding it. Worth reading before visiting the battlefield.
Josh Liller
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Perryville is one of the more forgotten major battles of the Civil War. It's not hard to see why: short in duration, comparatively low in casualties, and with commanding generals on both sides who have been seen mostly negatively then and now. But this battle was the high water mark of the Kentucky Campaign / Confederate Heartland Offense of 1862 that was a kind of western parallel to Lee's Antietam campaign. It could be argued it was the Confederate high water mark in the entire western theater ...more
Sean Chick
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Research is top notch, although the level of detail on the battle can make it a bit of a slog at times. Fortunately Noe's prose is solid. He is fair to Buell and Bragg, noting good and bad points. The soldier accounts are good (and often missing from books like this) but can get redundant. In the end neither general was good, but Noe does not succumb to the whipping boy impulse. Kirby Smith is thoroughly pilloried however, as is Gilbert.

I took off a star for not having anything much to say about
Jul 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Perryville is a forgotten battle but an important battle in that the Confederates lost Kentucky in this battle. The strategic, logistical political implications of the battle can't be understated however the Battle of Perryville is overlooked. Perhaps the location on a back road far from the interstate has something to do with the being overlooked but perhaps it was the fact that neither commanding general was well thought of. Noe does a very thorough job in his book to bring Perryville to the p ...more
Jen Padgett Bohle
Feb 28, 2008 rated it liked it
I think I've figured out that I prefer the type of civil war history that makes military historians cringe --- civilian and soldier accounts, letters, diaries, and the more humanistic or sociological aspects of battles and war. Military strategy, admittedly, is a bit difficult to follow without clear maps on each page and I had trouble keeping track of all the brigades, regiments, columns, and who led what. This book was a mix of both strategy and sociology, so as soon as I got bored with flank ...more
Steve Switzer
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
A book about an important but little known battle .. literally the high water mark of the confederacy where they got the furthest north and retook kentucky for a brief time
A battle in which neither Commander knew that the main battle was going on and the union commander denied it was more than a skirmish!
I had always wanted to know what actually happened during braggs dash to kentucky but now i know he was dragged forward by kirby smith , completely misread the union plans and finally realisied
Mar 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: civil-war
Noe does an excellent job of covering the maneuverings of the opposing forces in the months preceding the battle and a similarly fantastic job of covering the battle in detail. My only major complaint is that at several times the author attempts to convey command decisions through the lens of post-post-post facto psychoanalysis. That's another subject for another book and an individual with many years of education in another field. Thankfully, these instances are short and few. ...more
Jun 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
One of my new favorite CW authors. Well written account of this often forgotten battle. I'm really into the Kentucky/Trans-Miss action right now and this was a great introduction. Looking forward to touring Kentucky sites sometime. ...more
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