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Battle of Perryville

An engagement in the Civil War fought near Perryville, in central Kentucky, on October 8, 1862. Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg, with about 18,000 troops, launched an invasion into Kentucky, hoping to win local support and eventually to invade Ohio. Union forces of roughly 25,000 under Gen. Don Carlos Buell met Bragg near Perryville. The Confederates won a tactical victory but encountered a strategic defeat. Bragg was forced to withdraw his outnumbered army from the region and from the state, ending his invasion and dashing the hopes of a Confederate Kentucky. The Battle of Perryville, which was the largest Civil War battle in the state, killed and wounded more than 7,500 Union and Confederate troops. The Confederates' failure to attain a decisive victory kept Kentucky in Union hands for the remainder of the war, influenced northern Congressional elections, and gave President Lincoln the political acumen needed to issue a preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The college's Old Centre was used by both armies as a hospital before and after the battle. The school attempted to continue classes in Old Sayre library, but community excitement and the absence of students forced the college to suspend classes for thirteen days. The following entries from the 1862 faculty minutes chronicle events on the Centre campus surrounding the battle.

September 26, 1862

The regular Faculty meeting was prevented by the visit of several Confederate officers, who examined the College building with a view to making it a hospital for Confederate soldiers. Profs. Beatty, McKnight, and Patterson, at an informal meeting, concurred in the opinion that, should the College be thus occupied, we should, if Dr. Green concur, endeavor still to hear the recitations of the classes, using the Sayre Library as far as practicable, for that purpose. On Saturday, Sept. 27th, 1862, the College was taken possession of by the Confederate forces, for hospital purposes, with the exception of Prof. Beatty's rooms. On Monday, Oct. 13th, the Confederate soldiers in the hospital are taken prisoners and paroled by the U.S. forces; and on Thursday, Oct. 16th, the Confederate sick are removed to the Baptist Church, and the College building is occupied by U.S. soldiers, as a hospital. On Feb. 27th, evacuated by the sick; and on March 14th, the building is restored to the College authorities, after twenty day's occupation by the Confederates and 5 months, less 2 days, by the U.S. forces.

September 29, 1862

Monday. Commence using the Sayre Library for Chapel exercises and recitations.

October 3, 1862

Faculty met: present Messrs. Green, Beatty, McKnight and Patterson.

Prof. Patterson notifies the Faculty of his expected absence, on account of fears of the operation of the Confed. conscription.

October 9, 1862

There being but six students present, and the community intensely excited on account of the battle of yesterday (at Perryville), the Faculty, present Messrs. Green, Beatty, and McKnight, resolve to suspend exercises until Monday next.

October 13, 1862

Monday. Faculty met: present Messrs. Green, Beatty, McKnight, and Patterson; but six students appearing, and both armies being in our immediate vicinity, it was resolved to suspend exercises until Monday next.

October 17, 1862

Faculty met at the office of the Financial Agent: present Messrs. Green, Beatty, and Patterson.

At the suggestion of Rev. Dr. Humphrey and Hon. Joshua F. Bell, it was resolved to suspend the exercises of the College for another week.

October 27, 1862

Monday. College re-opened, but the classes excused for today, the stoves not being in readiness. Have thus lost, in all, thirteen days of College exercises.

October 28, 1862

Exercises resumed: 17 students present. Faculty met after recitations: no business transacted.

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