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[469]

Battle of Perryville.

General Buell, learning the position of our forces near Perryville, determined on attacking us there. Bragg wisely prepared to receive and give him battle, and, in fact, ascertaining that Crittenden's corps was nearly a day's march in the rear of Buell, he sent Withers's division of Polk's corps to intercept him, whilst he, with the remainder of the army, attacked the two Federal corps under McCook and Gilbert, both under the immediate command of Buell, then rapidly, and, as they thought, securely, approaching Perryville, hoping to crush them in detail, and thereby remain for a time at least master of the situation in the dark and bloody ground. But by one of those mishaps that will sometimes crop out when least looked for or expected, our (Withers's) division, which, as said above, was sent to intercept Crittenden's corps, came up, at the intersection of two roads, with the advance guard of General E. Kirby Smith's army hastening to General Bragg's support, and they being all dressed in new Federal suits, the spoils at Richmond, where Bull Nelson had the discretion, under the cloak of big-hearted generosity, to supply the much needed requisitions of the haughty Confederate (this was about twelve miles north of Harrodsburg, near the Louisville turnpike), Major W. C. Richards's (who had just before at Mumfordsville been severely wounded) sharpshooters of Chalmers's brigade, under command of Captain West, and those of our new, and, as it resulted, friendly acquaintances, mutually mistaking each other for the enemy, commenced skirmishing and continued for some time, and until Smith's men, discovering the mistake, sent forward a flag of truce and removed the apprehension, but not until it was too late for the accomplishment of the errand upon which we had been sent. The game had flown; Crittenden, with only his rear guard slightly harrassed, passed on and in time united with Buell's forces, then being driven back from Perryville, and turned the tide of battle against us, which, till his arrival, had rolled so proudly at our bidding, and in connection with the signal defeat of Van Dorn at Corinth on the second (4th October) day of that engagement, necessitating Bragg's retreat out of Kentucky by Cumberland Gap.

Van Dorn's army, had it been successful at Corinth, was to have cooperated with us in Tennessee and Kentucky, insuring success to our arms in the latter State. But few know the fact, or knowing it have suppressed its utterance, that General Bragg's original plan

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