Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spring Walking Tour Date Set!

After some discussion after the fall walking tour this past October, Chuck Lott and I have decided to move the tour to May while at the same time adding more time to walking the battlefield by dividing the tour into two sessions on the battlefield.

Perryville Spring Walking Tour
May 17th, 2014
Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site
1825 Battlefield Road, Perryville, KY 40468
Sponsored by the Friends of Perryville Battlefield and the Cincinnati Civil War Roundtable
Guides – Chuck Lott and Darryl Smith

Join Chuck Lott and Darryl Smith for an extended walking tour of the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site.  There will be a morning session from 9:00 a.m. until noon, a break for lunch, and then an afternoon session from 1:00-4:00 p.m. (covering a different part of the battle than the morning session).  Evening roundtable talk to be held over drinks in Danville, most likely at V the Market or other suitable location.  Attendees should wear comfortable clothing, sturdy walking shoes, bring water and snacks, and pack a lunch.  History buffs and the general public are all welcome!  Each session will involve three miles of walking, with some elevation changes (none greater than 100 feet) along the way. Meet for the morning session at the picnic shelter in the park.  When entering the park, take the first right and look for the shelter.

Morning Session – Cheatham Strikes the Federal Left
9:00-12:00 – Meet at the Picnic Shelter
We will follow Cheatham’s Division as it strikes the Federal forces under Jackson and Rousseau.  Brigades covered: Donelson, Maney, Stewart, Terrill, Starkweather, Webster.  Distance – 3.0 Miles.

12:00-1:00 - Be sure to pack a lunch!

Afternoon Session – Men of Iron
1:00-4:00 – Meet at the Confederate Cemetery
We will focus on Rousseau’s stand against Buckner’s and Johnson’s Divisions.  Brigades covered: Lytle, Harris, Jones, Brown, Adams, Cleburne, St. John, Wood.  Distance – 3.0 Miles.

Evening Session – Post Tour Gathering
5:00 – V-the Market, 130 South Market, Danville
Open question and answer session over wine and beer.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fall Hike - A Rainy Fun Affair!

Cold temps and pouring rain were our companions on the fall hike this year.  I would say those weather conditions were 180 degrees from what the soldiers suffered with in 1862, but twenty-four attendees suffered through the rain and cold for three hours as we tramped in a hurried and abbreviated fashion across the battlefield.  I was really impressed by the dedication the attendees exuded, but finally, after seeing more and more of them shiver, we decided to cut the event a bit short.  Thanks to those who made it out and tramped the fields in the rain!

The post hike event was held at a variety of locations.  First fourteen of us stopped at V-The Market for some warming spirits.  After imbibing a few pints, we moved on to Bluegrass Pizza and Pub, which never fails to deliver a great pie!  A few of us moved on to the Beer Engine for another quick pint.  It was good to be able to support local businesses while sharing some great times.

The plans are already starting for an extended event in the spring.  Both Chuck Lott and I are feeling that three or four hours are just not enough to cover Perryville they way we want to.  Not only do we have a lot of material to go over, but there is also a lot of ground to cover.  Look for details soon!

Rainy Day at Perryville - Photo by Tim Jeffries

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Good News/Bad News

Good news, bad news.  The good - we are still having our post hike event.  Bad - Lore cannot host due to KY laws.  They are trying to get us into V The Market in Danville, which will still give us plenty of adult beverage choices and food.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Odds and Ends/Ends and Odds

Just an update post of sorts....

First, I have seen one of the first maps for the tour book/booklet.  Hal Jespersen (of Civil War Maps) has done great work on the first map, which shows the positions of both armies at approximately 2:00 p.m. on October 8th.  I have written the first draft of the campaign background (a very simple overview leading up to the battle), and have started just a bit on the first tour stop.  As I am focusing on Cheatham's attack, the tour stops in the book will not be in the same order as the tour stops on the battlefield as I want to follow specific brigades in order of the advance across the battlefield.  Actually, I pulled off the book shelf the series of tour guides that I picked up at Antietam a few years ago, and am giving some thought to perhaps just doing a series of guides, perhaps one for each Confederate brigade and the Federal forces they encountered.  I will have to see what info I can find out about publishing a larger book vs. a series of booklets.

Second, I am becoming quite eager for the next Cincinnati Civil War Round Table meeting.  The CCWRT does not meet during the summer months (I assume because the members are out "campaigning"), and I think that if they increased their membership base they could probably generate enough interest to have summer meetings, but growing membership is another topic.  The September meeting has Dr. Gary Joiner discussing the 1864 Red River Campaign, an area in which I am certainly not very knowledgeable.  The October meeting is one I am really looking forward to as Stuart Sanders will be discussing his recent Perryville Under Fire book.  The timing is perfect since I am leading the fall hike at Perryville just two days later.  Regardless of the speaker, spending time with other folks interested in the Civil War is really keeping my passion level high and therefore having meetings during the summer months would be, selfishly, my way of keeping the fires stoked.

Next step for the tour book is to visit the battlefield and measure distances and write directions for each tour stop.,  I am hoping to head down to the area on July 4th weekend as Lore Brewery Company is hosting an event that promises to be quite enjoyable, and if may have noticed in previous posts I do enjoy their beer.  So not only do I get to enjoy beer, food, and fireworks, I can spend some time on the battlefield that weekend as well.

One thing I had not mentioned was some follow up info about having a study group at Perryville.  It just seems as if folks there, while interested, do not have the time to pull something like that off.  Short of moving to Perryville (which the other half is still against), I cannot organize such an event without having someone on the ground in the area to do the legwork.  And it would also take some time investment on the part of the experts to lead the groups on the battlefield, and I do not consider myself to be an expert.  While I can help with the promotion of such an event and probably guarantee a good turnout, I cannot lead detailed discussions of the various aspects of the battle, nor can I arrange food, transportation, meeting rooms, places to stay, etc., without seeing the facilities to be used and meeting folks face to face.  Hence the need for on the ground personnel.  This could be a great thing for the Friends group to pull off, but that group can;'t even let its members know about membership renewals or put out a newsletter (or even an email using a service like Constant Contact), so I highly doubt if they can be so motivated.

And on the final front, the Lytle Monument at Chickamauga is undergoing its renovation.  You can see a few pictures on Dave Powell's Chickamauga blog.  Exciting to see this work being completed!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

And So It Begins

I started working on the tour book a bit today, mostly the intro and the campaign background.  Writing the text should be the easiest part of this project as I have plenty of first hand accounts and modern studies to utilize, and I am going to definitely focus on Cheatham's attack against Jackson's division and Starkweather's brigade from Rousseau's division.  I am definitely going to mirror Mr. Carter's Snodgrass Hill book (see previous post), as I think the format is extremely friendly towards battlefield trampers.

After the text has been written, I will need to visit the battlefield to determine the tour stop locations and to measure distances between those locations.  I do not plan on following the current tour route, but will use stops that flow more readily with Cheatham's division as it attacked towards Dixville Crossroads.  I will use my gps to create an overall map of the locations, write the text for moving between those locations, and then have maps made for the book.

Speaking of maps, I think I have found the person to do the maps for this project.  Hal Jespersen contacted me about this project, and his prices seem to be reasonable.  He did the maps for the recent Morgan's Raid book by Cincinnati Civil War Round Table member David Lowery, and those maps are excellent.  Here is a sample of a Perryville map he completed for the Perryville article on Wikipedia:

And one from David's book:

As you can see, Mr. Jespersen does excellent work.  You can see more of his maps on his website, Civil War Maps.

Finding a publisher will be another step that may be a bit perplexing.  I really do like the production value of Mr. Carter's book, but it appears that his publisher may be a very small company.

As I slowly progress on this project, be certain to stop by from time to time to see where I am at.  I am excited to be pushing forward with this idea!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New Direction, New Ideas

A friend of mine shared with me that the Civil War Trust Annual Conference will be based in Nashville next year.  Hearing that news prodded my neurons into thinking about a few ideas/issues/opportunities that I would like to explore/solve over the next year.  Bear with me as I try to explain....

Perryville, sad to say, is becoming more of an after thought for me.  The lack of forward thinking and actions from the Friends group really has left a negative impression upon me.  I have started looking for other places to lead history hikes, and I will be leading one at Camp Wild Cat in September for a group of hikers.  If that goes well I may try to lead one there every year.  More on this opportunity later.  I will still do a yearly event at Perryville for those who are interested, I just do not expect the Friends group to help my endeavors.  But instead of becoming frustrated over their inability to live up to their word, I have decided to move on/move ahead.

Because the Nashville CWT conference will cover several potential battles, I pulled out some books and maps last night (Donelson, Stones River, Chickamauga), and one of the books I grabbed was a walking tour guide written by Robert Carter about the Snodgrass Hill fighting at Chickamauga (Officially titled The Battle of Chickamauga: The Fight for Snodgrass Hill and Rock of Chickamauga).  It is a well written tour guide, filled with enough detail for the history, but without overwhelming the casual battlefield visitor.  What I also enjoy about Mr. Carter's book is it seems to be locally printed, but without all the errors I have seen from other small print run titles.  Mr. Carter's book also does not suffer from "over-writing" which I have seen in a recent Camp Wild Cat book.  Mr. Carter is a member of the Chickamauga study group, and knows his subject well, and promised to bring out another Chickamauga walking tour book.  This had me thinking that Perryville could use a specialized walking tour book or two, breaking down the battle into specific parts.  

Doing this project I certainly can forego my frustration with the Friends group while providing the park with some much needed material.  Most visitors to Perryville only step a few feet onto the battlefield, focusing on the monuments and Confederate cemetery near the parking lot.  Some may drive their cars along the gravel lane that leads to Loomis' Heights and overlooks the iconic H.P. Bottom House.  An even fewer amount might walk a mile or less along the mown paths and read a few interpretive signs.  To understand the fighting at Perryville one must walk the battlefield, with a tour guide, or a tour book in hand.

To interpret the core battle without overwhelming the casual visitor with a six or seven mile hike, I foresee more than one tour book being needed.  One could focus on Cheatham's attack against Jackson's division (along with Starkweather's brigade from Rousseau's division), and another on the defense of Loomis' Heights by the remainder of Rousseau's troops.  This would make the walks shorter in duration, meaning more manageable to the average Perryville visitor.

I will be working on this idea over the next few months, just to see if I can pull it off.  Having great maps is one of the keys, so finding a map-maker who will work for next to nothing yet still produces works of art will be a priority.  Stay tuned for more details!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Direction

Hmmm, after reaching out one last time and having post about my negative blog entry from two days ago (which really isn't that negative), I finally get some email responses from some of the folks at the Friends of Perryville Battlefield group.  However, I am thinking too little, too late.  There are claims that I did receive email replies to my numerous inquiries, but I can say unequivocally that I did not.  If I had, why would I be so adamant about reaching out one last time?  Why would I send multiple emails asking the same questions and making the same suggestions over the last several months?  Probably because no replies were ever composed and sent.  Again, I just do not understand...if you put an email address out there for contact, then reply to it, timely, and without numerous further inquiries.

So, over the last few days I have been casting about, trying to find a new Civil War cause to support.  I've given money to the Friends group, just to be disappointed.  I've also given money to another Friends group in the past (a National Park group), and never received a newsletter from them either.  And no, I have no issues receiving any other mail.

I belong to the Civil War Trust as a Regimental Color Bearer, and as long as I am able to do that financially, I will continue my support of that top notch group.  I send them emails and get replies.  They communicate.  They are active.   And yes, I do understand they are not 100% volunteer, so they have staff to accomplish such things as email replies and publish the Hallowed Ground magazine.  But worthy, nonetheless.

I took a gander at Mill Springs Battlefield Association, Friends of Stones River National Battlefield (who doesn't appear to update their website very often, which could be a negative indicator), the Battle of Richmond Association, Camp Wildcat Preservation Foundation, and a few others.  The problem with most of the aforementioned is that they do not offer the hiking/interpretive opportunities I desire.  Stones River does have some miles of hiking trails, but those trails really do not offer the interpretation piece that I can do at places such as Perryville and Chickamauga.  Mill Springs may open up more trails, but I do not believe the trail system will be co-joining, meaning that there would either be sections of road walking or hopping in and out of cars to get from one trail to another.  Chickamauga is ideal, but at five and a half hours away becomes a bit more than a battlefield tour and more like a weekend outing.  Camp Wildcat is closer, and the Sheltowee Trace/Wilderness Road runs right through the battlefield, so a longer hike could be completed, but it is a long drive for a day hike.  Perhaps a one or two night backpacking trip would work there.  They have also opened up a few more trails to add to the interpretive piece.  Potential exists, and the battle for me to interpret to hikers and casual history buffs is fairly straight forward.

Not sure what all this will mean for the's not like I can change the name and/or the url to reflect any new direction.  I will try to keep a positive frame of mind about Perryville, but I will say that the positive frame of mind I once had has been tainted (bomp, bomp, tainted mind, oh ohh oh, tainted mind).

Stay tuned...things could get interesting!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Negative Blog Post Gets Response...Sort Of

It's sad really, that my blog entry from yesterday is what it took to get someone from the Friends of Perryville Battlefield group to respond on Facebook, but really, they did not respond to any of the questions I have been sending their way for months and months.  No response about membership, no response about what a Trailmaster is supposed to be doing, and a half hearted attempt to explain away the lack of a newsletter.  Then they tried to say they could leave a negative response about me?  I asked about what and they didn't give an answer.  Sad, so disturbing actually that folks simply cannot do what they said they were going to do, and then have the audacity to turn it back on me, without basis.

I've been bringing folks to Perryville for five years now, encouraging them to support the park.  While I will keep bringing folks to Perryville, I will no longer suggest they join the Friends group.  I will suggest that they have save the land by giving to the Civil War Trust.

I hate negativity, but at the same time I will call a duck a duck when it needs to be done.  As stated, I have enjoyed my face to face interactions with the folks involved, but working long distance with them has been frustrating.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Friends of Perryville Battlefield - Does It Truly Exist?

At times I know I am not the most patient person in the world, but in this day and age of world wide web, internet, email, social media, and any other instant communication device we have available to use, I find it difficult to understand the lack of response to emails, especially emails from persons with a noted track record of passion and promotion.

I keep trying to get SOMEONE from the Friends of Perryville Battlefield to respond to ANYTHING I send them.  I became a member a few years ago, was promised a newsletter, never received a reminder to renew when my membership ran out, and finally sent them a fairly large amount of donation when I renewed in 2011.  Still, no newsletter.  And still, no renewal reminder.  When I send emails to those listed as contacts on the various websites, I hear crickets (actually the crickets are louder).  How can a volunteer organization be so non-responsive to a person whom has brought several hikers and history buffs to a battlefield that most of those aforementioned types would not have traveled to on their own?  How can an organization make promises and not keep them?  (just where is that newsletter I have heard about?)  How can they not utilize a person's passion for their organization?  It has become a bit of a running joke for me now, knowing that I can reach out, but there simply is no one reaching back.  Heck, I even make comments on the Friends of Perryville Battlefield Facebook page and get no rise.

I hear you already..."Darryl, they are a VOLUNTEER organization, no one is getting paid in this endeavor."  Yes, you are correct, absolutely correct with no denial.  Serving as a board member to a volunteer organization in Ohio, I know exactly what volunteers can and cannot do.  Volunteers give of themselves, freely, to make organizations "better."  So believe me folks, I "get it."  I get being busy.  Busy is why I email as opposed to talk on the phone...easier to compose and send an email while I am doing other things.  But I also get being responsible.  If you put a website out there, update it regularly.  If you put a contact email address out there, be prepared to check it on occasion and reply to those pending emails in your inbox.  If you make a promise, keep it.

So here I sit, waiting around in Ohio for folks who live practically on top of one of my favorite places on earth to grab onto my passion and USE IT!  Each year I am giving of my (volunteer) time to lead hikes on the Perryville battlefield.  I am gathering together folks who come to that hallowed ground and become interested in the stories of the men and regiments that fought there.  Those people are also buying items in the gift shop, spending money to tour the museum, and helping the local economy by frequenting food and drink places, not to mention putting fuel in their cars, in the greater Perryville area.  Seemingly I am helping to spread the Perryville story, now will someone help me and reply to emails and send me a blasted newsletter?

Over a year ago I was named the Trailmaster for the Friends group.  I have NO idea what that means or what I am supposed to be doing.  But do my inquires (and there have been several) go answered?  No.

Funny thing is...I know how great the people I am lambasting are.  Hard working, kind, really great folks that you just instantly take a liking to (or maybe that is take a shine to).  My face to face interactions in the area have all been so favorable, so honest, so passionate.  How can there be such a disconnect?  How can these folks who I know care about Perryville be so distant?

I have tried one more email, one more attempt to prod anyone into action.  I hope that I get a reply, because my passion is starting to cool.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Home Front is Busiest Front!

What a whirlwind I have been caught up in over the last few days!  The fiancee and I have been looking for a new place...nothing serious, just starting the process to see what is out there.  We found a couple of larger condos across the street from our current location, so we jumped in.  We met with our realtor on a Tuesday night, our place was listed on Wednesday morning, showing and offer came in on Wednesday night, counter offer and acceptance of same Thursday, we looked at new places again on Friday.  Offer put in, counter given, accepted on Saturday.  Home inspections completed by Sunday!  Wow!

What does this have to do with Ohio, Perryville, or even Ohio at Perryville?  Not a lot, or maybe it offers the potential for a less active blog (short term while prepping to move), and a more active blog as we create an office out of the second bedroom.  This should allow me to focus on some of my extra curricular activities a bit more, which includes this blog and Perryville.  I still need to help put together a hiking guide for the battlefield, but since new trails are being added seemingly all the time, anything map I have created may become outdated rather quickly!  Regardless, it is a project I need to push forward with.

More Round Table - The fine chaps at the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table mentioned they would help promote the upcoming fall hike (October there!) via their website, newsletter, and email distribution list.  Maybe I need to get the details to!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Study Group
As the calendar rolls from 2012 into 2013, that means that the days until the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park Study Group are rapidly flying by.  In less than two months I will be heading to north Georgia to participate in my second study group, led by Jim Ogden, Dave Powell, and this year William Glenn Robertson.  I am really looking forward to this event, as it serves as the model for what Perryville could be doing.  While Perryville is a much smaller battle, having a one or two day study group each year certainly would be a reasonable expectation.  How better to increase awareness and support than by having historians and history buffs spending time at Perryville, dissecting the battle into small pieces, and spending their tourism dollars locally?
Think about it...those who are heading to Chickamauga from out of state will need a place to stay.  Dollars spent locally.  They will need to find places to eat.  Dollars spent locally.  They will also buy items from the gift shop on the battlefield.  Dollars spent locally, and dollars going directly to the battlefield.
I know I have mentioned this idea before, and you may be thinking I should put up or shut up.  If I lived in central Kentucky, I would put up, for certain.  But I am over two hours away in Cincinnati, and do not have the connections on the local level.  Can not the Friends group and the battlefield management, who are local, join arms and put together such an event each year?  I know they can.  Having seen the work they did for the Civil War Trust conference in 2009 as well as the massive effort put forth in the 150th anniversary reenactment, it can be done.  It would take a strong core group, a group that is within shouting distance of Perryville, to get the ball rolling.  But something like this, like many programs of this ilk, call for volunteers, and at times volunteers can be difficult to find.
I will keep pushing for this idea, because I believe that devotees of the Perryville battle would attend and support such an endeavor.  Based on the success I have had leading the hikes, people are interested in Perryville, and are interested in doing more than just a casual visit to the battlefield.  There are those who want "more".  Can there be a Perryville Study Group?  The answer is yes.
Cincinnati Civil War Round Table
Ah, yes, it is about time!  For years I have been wanting to join the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table, but for some reason just never got around to sending in my membership.  I think part of the reason is that the CCWRT makes it impossible to join online, which is a real shame in this day and age.  It would be extremely simple for them to set up PayPal as a way to accept online payments, which would make it much easier on their members.  But I digress.

What I am excited about is the fact that the CCWRT has eight speakers each year, as well as a battlefield tour.  One of the speakers will be Stuart Sanders, who will discuss the aftermath of the Perryville battle (and as covered in his recent book, Perryville Under Fire).  I am looking forward to his talk.  It has been years since I first met and spoke with Stuart, who was kind enough to chat with me for a couple of hours while he was still involved with Perryville.  He is an engaging person, and I am certain his presentation will be equally engaging.

Fall Hike Date Set

This year I am only going to lead one hike at Perryville, that being in the fall.  I feel that while I could do two each year, having one event works better with my other plans this year.  Therefore, the hike will be held in the fall, on October 19th.  I will post more details in a future post, but for now plan on meeting near the Confederate Cemetery no later than 11:00 a.m.  We will spend three to four hours hiking the battlefield and talking about the battle.  I also plan to have a post hike event at Lore Brewing Company again this year, and believe the fine folks at Lore will be doing some grilling for a post hike meal!  As mentioned, details to follow!


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