Battle of Perryville

Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site

At an auction house in North Carolina Tuesday morning, hundreds of Civil War artifacts hit the auction block.  The collection represents the life’s work of a Perryville, Kentucky man who died in April.

Jimmy Johnson says his company, based in Angier, N.C., has been dealing with Civil War relics for 30 years.  

“Lots of times you get little bits and pieces of different collections, but in this case, we’ve just got such a wide variety of different items,” said Johnson 

The collection belonged to James “Cotton” Reynolds of Perryville. He was 84 when he died this spring.

His two daughters were at the auction house Monday where hundreds of collectors previewed the trove of Civil War artifacts.

 “Obviously they’re excited, it is an emotional thing anytime you’re selling your parents items, it’s an emotional event,” said Johnson.  “But they saw their Daddy nurture these items and collect them over the years.” 

Clinton Lewis / WKU University Relations

A significant Civil War battle took place in Kentucky on October 8th, 1862. The Battle of Perryville claimed the lives of about 7600 soldiers, and some historians now say the battle was more important than some researchers thought in the past. Dr. Glenn LaFantasie of the WKU Institute for Civil War Studies and WKU Military Historian Dr. Jack Thacker  say Confederate forces moved into the state, hoping to get Kentuckians to join their cause.

In his storied career as a federal judge and former director of the FBI and CIA, William Webster was guided partly by the great-grandfather he never knew who died on a Civil War battlefield. His ancestor, Union Col. George Penny Webster, was mortally wounded in savage fighting at the Battle of Perryville on Oct. 8, 1862, the biggest Civil War confrontation in Kentucky.

Eight Civil War battlefields, including three in Kentucky and Tennessee, are receiving more than $2.4 million in grants to help with land acquisition. The National Park Service said the grant money will help in the permanent preservation and protection of the battlefields. This year marks the 150 year anniversary of several important Civil War battles.

This fall marks the 150th anniversary of Kentucky’s largest Civil War battle. To honor that event, planning is well underway for the October re-enactment of the Battle of Perryville.