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Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle Hardcover – September 21, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 520 pages
  • Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky; First edition (September 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813122090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813122090
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,242,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Awarded the 2002 Seaborg Civil War Prize." --

"An indispensable source for an understanding of the events in Kentucky in the fall of 1862, when Braxton Bragg's Southern soldiers fought courageously to achieve what turned out to be the 'high water mark' of the western Confederacy." -- America's Civil War

"Full of facts, details, and descriptions of the battle, but it also contains vivid descriptions of the soldiers and civilians caught in the wake of the battle making it interesting reading for not only the avid Civil War buff, but the casual reader." -- Back Home in Kentucky

"For anyone seriously interested in the Civil War in Kentucky, Noe's books is a must buy. It should remain the definitive work of the Perryville campaign for many years." -- Bowling Green Daily News

"Noe has authored the essential book on this battle." -- Civil War Book Review

"About as detailed as it can get regarding this long-overlooked and recently discovered Civil War battle for Kentucky." -- Civil War Courier

"None of the professional works that touch on Perryville... can offer the breadth of perspective and the innovative investigation that inform Noe's Perryville." -- Civil War History

"An exceptional book. Buffs and serious scholars alike will enjoy what should be the definitive work on this battle for some time to come." -- Civil War News

"A conversational, easy-to-follow style with vivid imagery, Perryville clearly sets out the battle lines and savagery that took place there." -- Danville Advocate-Messenger

"Does a masterful job of placing the Battle of Perryville, and Kentucky more generally, in the context of the Civil War and southern history." -- Filson History Quarterly

"Noe's study of this pivotal campaign will be the standard work on the subject for some years to come. Essential reading on the military events in the west, and a model for future studies." -- Florida Historical Quarterly

"A model study that helps expand the definition of campaign histories." -- Gary Gallagher, Washington Post

"Noe's scholarship is very good, his research exhaustive, and his ability to explain the course of events enhances the narrative." -- Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Noe has produced a model study that has comprehensively included a broad picture of military strategy and action as well as larger political issues.... This comprehensive effort constitutes what battle history ought to be." -- H-Net Reviews

"Noe clearly has established himself as a significant player among national Civil War historians of the western theater." -- Indiana Magazine of History

"An excellent book that will be hard to surpass in covering this battle." -- Journal of America's Military Past

"Perryville was, in the words of one participant 'a square, stand-up, hand-to-hand fight.' In that spirit, Noe has written a model study of just such a Civil War battle." -- Journal of American History

"An impressively researched, balanced, and detailed book that will please many readers, especially those who enjoy exciting battle histories." -- Journal of Military History

"The best among a good group of modern studies on the Kentucky campaign and by far the most detailed on the battle of Perryville itself. It brings a better recognition of this neglected battle's significance to the war's outcome." -- Journal of Southern History

"Noteworthy.... Provides a detailed history of this 1862 battle." -- Kentucky Monthly

"Untangles the complicated events leading up to and during the crucial battle between the forces of Union General Don Carlos Buell and Confederate General Braxton Bragg." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Noe gives a clear sense of the 'grand havoc' referred to in the book's title." -- Lexington Herald-Leader

"The first true history of the battle, its aftermath, and the wide-spread repercussions of the South's loss." -- McCormick Messenger

"A blow by blow account of not only the battle itself, but also its prelude and, most importantly, its aftermath." -- New 4U

"Noe has produced a model study that expands our understanding of a long neglected battle and raises our expectations for future campaign histories." -- North Carolina Historical Review

"Noe has rescued this key engagement from obscurity with this masterful study." -- Ohio History

"Noe captures the intensity and the frustrations well by delving into personal memoires for much of the battle narrative. Very well written and well worth getting." -- Paper Wars

"Noe's outstanding book, which relates the battle to the campaign and to overall Confederate strategy, fills an important need and will doubtless serve as the definitive account of the battle." -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Noe artfully steers the combatants toward Perryville, provides a coherent account of that confused clash, and tells what it meant to soldiers and civilians caught in the maelstrom." -- Society of Civil War Historians

"Casts new light on this epic struggle for Kentucky and restores it to a deserved place in the Civil War's pantheon of great campaigns." -- Southern Historian

"This superb book unravels the complexities of Perryville, but discloses these military details within their social and political contexts. These considerations greatly enrich our understanding of war, history, and human endeavor." -- Virginia Quarterly Review

"Noe writes with a fine eye for detail and a moving prose: his work is a first-rate historical narrative." -- Wargamer

"Noe details in stirring prose backed by impressive research, the full dimension of the campaign and the battle that ended in a tactical victory yet could not win Kentucky for the South. In surely the most detailed and exhaustive study to date, Noe has produced in Perryville a work that will stand as the definitive word on a lost opportunity, and a lost dream." -- William C. Davis

"Noe's well researched, well written Perryville is the best volume on arguably the least understood important battle during the Civil War. No Civil War buff will want to miss it." -- William W. Freehling

"While providing all the parry and thrust one might expect from an excellent battle narrative, the book also reflects the new trends in Civil War history in its concern for ordinary soldiers and civilians caught in the slaughterhouse." --

About the Author

Kenneth W. Noe holds the Draughon Chair in Southern History at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. He is the author of several books and articles.

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Customer Reviews

It's well researched, well written and a really good read.
E. M. Holderman
Unlike other some other readers, I found the maps to be very helpful in understanding the battle -- I only wished there were more!
Don Roberson
The book seemed to flow well, and I never got bogged down in dry facts.
Chris Carter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Holderman on October 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Perryville - This Grand Havoc of Battle" is a great work of thorough research and presentation. The most recent book written about the civil war Battle of Perryville, Kennenth Noe sets the stage in providing the reader w/ a context of the civil war itself and the events leading up to the encounter between General Carlos Buells'(Union) and General Braxton Braggs'
(Confederates) men in this little central Kentucky town. With Perryville being home to me all my life, my interest is of course more personal, but civil war history has always intrigued both my brother and I, who have always taken in the re-enactment of the Battle of Perryville since we were kids. We grew up playing on the beautiful rolling hills of Perryville Battlefield State Park. It's amazing to think that our childhood place of play was once a bloody battlefield. It's also amazing to me to know the very land we live on was most likely traveled & camped upon by Union or Confederate forces, perhaps both.
The Battle of Perryville is probably one of the least understood battles of the civil war. While battles like Gettysberg and Shiloh are better known, Perryville was one of the biggest turning points in the war and certainly for Kentucky, as it was truly the Confederacy's last effort at winning the state. It was the largest battle ever fought on Kentucky soil. I think Noe does a remarkable job in helping the reader to understand the significance of the battle of Perryville. With guidance from locals here who are the most knowledgable when it comes to the accuracy of this battle, Noe's depication of detail is impressive, or so I found. He includes research never before written of.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Chris Carter on October 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Kenneth Noe's book is a fantastic addition to the recent books dealing with obscure Western battles. It expands upon the previously small amount of material dealing with Bragg's Kentucky campaign and its climax on the fields of a small town called Perryville. The book is quite readable, and is filled with first-hand descriptions from period accounts, some of which are absolutely fascinating.
Overall, I found this to be a very good read. The book seemed to flow well, and I never got bogged down in dry facts. One minor quibble is that the maps sometimes were hard to reconcile with the text. Eventually I would get to the part of the narrative that corresponded to the map, but I had to use my imagination sometimes to fill in the blanks. Also, there were several towns and/or brigades mentioned that were not labeled on the appropriate map, or were not clear. However, I could usually figure out where they would have been located by using other maps, and overall it did not hurt the main story.
Noe also tries to draw some new conclusions about different facets of the battle, but I did not get the sense that he was trying to rigidly rewrite history. He does imply that they are new interpretations and not solid facts. This allows the readers to decide for themselves, instead of having a new theory forced upon them by a pretentious author as the final word on the subject. This was refreshing, and really made the book more enjoyable and intelligent.
If you enjoyed Shea and Hess's account of Pea Ridge, or Cozzen's book on Iuka and Corinth, I think you will find this book to be similar in style and tone. It does not quite match the Pea Ridge book, but it is very close, and I would recommend it as the best current book on Perryville. If you want to understand a little-known battle which was the high-water mark of the Western Confederacy, it is a must read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By George C. Rable on March 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An unfailingly interesting account by a fine historian. Kenneth W. Noe has made sense of one of the most neglected and confusing campaigns of the entire Civil War. He has sorted through the geographical complexities and factionalism in both armies to show his readers why people should still care about what happened near an obscure Kentucky village over 140 years ago. His work is truly a pioneering one. Unlike most campaign studies, this excellent book pays considerable attention to the treatment of the wounded, the effects of battle on the local landscape, the lives of veterans after the war, and even how the battlefield itself was interpreted and preserved. It will be the standard account for many years to come.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Matt Hering on January 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The Battle of Perryville, which took place in central Kentucky in October 1862, was in my opinion one of the most important battles of the Civil War. In a day of intense combat, Confederate and Federal troops fought over the Chaplin Hills northwest and west of the little (even to today) town of Perryville. In the end, the Southerners had gained a tactical victory, but lost the campaign, perhaps ending the last chance the Confederacy had of bringing in Kentucky.

In "Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle," Kenneth W. Noe provides the reader with an excellent study of the battle. From the Confederate movement northward from Chattanooga to their subsequent retreat back to the Volunteer State, Mr. Noe covers all the important events. He is very critical of Union General Don Carlos Buell's handling of the Army of the Ohio during the maneuvering in Middle Tennessee, and also reveals the in-fighting, and discontent, present within that army throughout this campaign. Mr. Noe covers the entire campaign, from start to finish, very well.

The maps in this book are second to none, allowing the reader to easily follow the movements of both Northern and Southern soldiers, as well as understand the topograpy of the battlefield. Interspersed throughout the narrative are old photos of commanders involved in the battle and of the battlefield, along with modern photos of sites on the battlefield. Combine these with Mr. Noe's excellent writing and one has a great narrative of the 1862 Kentucky Campaign.

The Battle of Perryville has been all but ingored by Civil War historians. However, Mr. Noe has gone far in bringing this deserving battle to the forefront. No Civil War library is complete without this book. After reading this book, I find myself hoping that Mr. Noe will continue to write volumes on Civil War campaigns. Get this book!
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