1862 battle broke spirit of resident Henry Bottom

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By Special to The Banner

Perryville resident Henry Bottom–known commonly as Squire Bottom to his many friends–was a farmer and justice of the peace whose home was caught in the crossfire of Kentucky’s largest battle.  After the fight, Bottom’s house became a field hospital. According to one eyewitness, a pile of amputated arms and legs, “some with shoes on, others with socks,” stood “four or five feet high” in one corner of the yard.

Soldiers also swept his farm clean. Bottom lost nine cows, 30 sheep, thousands of pounds of pork and bacon, 3,000 bushels of corn, 50 bushels of oats, two horses and 22 tons of hay.  For the first time ever, the Bottom family had to buy food to eat.

With hundreds of dead Confederates covering his farm, Bottom, his neighbors and slaves interred many on a small rise on the northern end of Bottom’s farm.  The Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site evolved from this cemetery.

Bottom never recovered–economically or psychologically–from the horrors and destruction of the Battle of Perryville.  One Perryville resident said that Bottom was “broken in spirit from that time on until he died.”

In cooperation with many partners, KHS is creating Civil War heritage tourism development opportunities, educating students, training teachers, developing initiatives for new scholarship and encouraging events and activities across Kentucky. For more information on the Civil War Sesquicentennial, see www.history.ky.gov/civilwar.

The Kentucky Historical Society, administrator of the Kentucky Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, is working to highlight the commonwealth’s importance during America’s most significant conflict.  

The KHS Historical Marker program memorializes many people and events that contributed to the commonwealth’s Civil War history.  Historical Marker #192 commemorates Squire Bottom, the Perryville resident who made great sacrifices during the Civil War.

“Discovering Together” is a Civil War newspaper series produced by the Kentucky Historical Society.