— The Battle for Kentucky October 8, 1862 —
During the Battle of Perryville, the Dixville Crossroads, the intersection in front of you, was a crucial tactical point on the battlefield.
Here, the Benton Road (now called Whites Road), which runs to Dixville in Mercer County, intersects the Perryville-Mackville Road (now Hayes May Road). On October 8, 1862, this was the key intersection of the battle. All of the Union supply wagons were parked behind you. These important supplies nearly fell into Confederate hands.
Had the Confederates captured and held this intersection, the entire Union First Corps would have been cut off from the rest of the Union army, which was posted west and south of Perryville. Fortunately for the Northern troops, Union reinforcements commanded by Colonel Michael Gooding arrived late in the day by marching from the west of town down the Benton Road (to your right) and to this intersection.
Gooding's brigade suffered heavily to hold this key point. Gooding lost one-third of his men and he was wounded and captured. The battle essentially ended around this intersection.
The day after the battle, local physician Jefferson J. Polk toured the battlefield. Walking from his house in downtown Perryville and out the Mackville Road, Polk reached this spot. What he witnessed he clearly remembered when he wrote his autobiography in 1867. Polk described the scene near this intersection:
"I passed on northward, and saw on either hand dead men and dead horses, canteens, muskets, cartridge-boxes, broken ambulances, coats, hats, and shoes, scattered thick over the ground. I reached Mr. Russell's white house?Here was the center of the great battle. The house was dotted over with hundreds of marks of musket and cannon balls. All around lay dead bodies of soldiers?In a skirt of woods close by were scattered hundreds of dead of both armies?The ground was strewn with soiled and torn clothes, muskets, blankets, and the various accouterements of the dead soldiers. Trees not more than one foot in diameter contained from twenty to thirty musket-balls and buck-shot, put into them during the battle?I counted four hundred and ten dead men on a small spot of ground. My heart grew sick at the sight?I saw dead rebels pile dup in pens like hogs. I reached my home, praying to God that I might never again be called upon to visit a battle-field."
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