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On This Day: October 8

1862 - (Civil War) Battle of Perryville, Kentucky

The victory at Perryville gave the Union control over Kentucky for the remainder of the war. The 1st Wisconsin Infantry was under fire much of the day and repulsed several Confederate charges. Fighting nearby was the 21st Wisconsin Infantry. It had just been recruited and had only four days of training. About 179 of its men were killed, wounded or left missing. The 10th Wisconsin Infantry fought from mid-morning until nightfall. When their ammunition ran out, they replenished it by lifting the cartridge boxes off the dead and wounded. Of the artillery present, only the 5th Wisconsin Light Artillery battery was engaged in combat. The 3rd and 8th batteries were held in reserve.

1871 - Peshtigo Fire

On this date Peshtigo, Wisconsin was devastated by a fire which took 1,200 lives. The fire caused over $2 million in damages and destroyed 1.25 million acres of forest. This was the greatest human loss due to fire in the history of the United States. The Peshtigo Fire was overshadowed by the Great Chicago fire which occured on the same day, killing 250 people and lasting three days. While the Chicago fire is said to have started by a cow kicking over a lantern, it is uncertain how the Peshtigo fire began. [Source: Wisconsin Magazine of History]