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This Day in History

Joshua Claybourn

On this day 147 years ago, our ancestors James Harrison Claybourn and Pleasant T. Claiborne (both cousins) took part in the Battle of Perryville. Over 20% of those engaged in the battle were either killed, wounded or went missing, making it one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

The Union victory there marked a turning point in the War. Confederate forces retreated into Tennessee, and Kentucky remained in Union possession for the remainder of the War. Just as important, the victory stalled Europeans from recognizing the Confederacy and rejuvenated Northerners enough to continue supporting the War in the 1862 elections.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this battle for our family is that cousins James and Pleasant fought on opposite sides of the line. James participated on the Union side with Company H of the 80th Illinois Infantry, and Pleasant with Company H of the 25th Arkansas Infantry Regiment. It isn’t known if Pleasant and James ever realized or discovered they were fighting each other in this battle.

Pleasant ultimately died in the War about a year later in July of 1863. James, however, survived and lived to be nearly 77 years old. He had ten children and hundreds of descendants, including yours truly and the family’s initial historian, Harriette Pinnell Threlkeld. One great irony is that had Pleasant or any of his Confederate compatriots succeeded in killing James, the family’s genealogical information might never have been compiled. Thus, Pleasant would have survived the battle, but any historical evidence of his very existence would have died.