Friday, November 7, 2014

Spring Walking Tour Date Set and Expanded!

Perryville Walking Tour Weekend
May 15th and 16th, 2015

Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site
1825 Battlefield Road, Perryville, KY 40468
Sponsored by the Friends of Perryville Battlefield and the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table
Guides – Chuck Lott and Darryl Smith

May 15th – Dry Canteen Trail Walk
This walk replicates the Federal First Corps approach to the battlefield.  The Dry Canteen Trail is a scout trail that scouts, without water to simulate what the Union troops were going through on October 7th, could earn a badge and learn about the Battle of Perryville.  The trail consists of road walking, so wear comfortable walking shoes, bring water and snacks, and wear bright colors so that passing cars may see us more easily.  While the walk is mostly on back roads, there is a busier section at the beginning of the walk that we need to exercise extreme caution and walk single file.

Meet by the Confederate Cemetery at 10:00 a.m.  We will then take as few vehicles as possible and drive to Mackville.  Starting at the Mackville Community Center we will walk about ten miles back to the battlefield, arriving by 3:00 p.m.  Car drivers will then need to be shuttled back to Mackville to pick up their vehicles.  Do not let the distance deter you from joining as we will have an easy pace and smooth surface to enjoy.  Post walk event will be at Bluegrass Pizza and Pub, where we can enjoy a great local restaurant and chat about Perryville.

May 16th – Walking Tour of Perryville Battlefield
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).  There will be some sort of evening session (hopefully with a renowned Perryville expert), so please plan on joining us after the walking tour for some enjoyable post tour camaraderie.

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 about 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 near the playground.  When entering the park, take the first right and look for the shelter.

Morning Session – 9:00-12:00 – Meet at the Picnic Shelter near the playground.

Lunch - 12:00-1:00
Be sure to pack a lunch!  Note - There is a small Amish place on the Lebanon Pike southwest of Perryville that may be open (about a ten minute drive).  They make a delicious deli sandwich!

Afternoon Session – 1:00-4:00 – Meet at the Confederate Cemetery

Evening Session – Post Tour Gathering – To Be Announced

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Walking Tour of Camp Wildcat

The esteemed folks of the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table, of which I am a member, have, in a momentary lapse of typically good judgement, have made me the activities chair of the newly formed activities committee.  Seeing that I am the only person on the committee at this time, I am not certain if this is a blessing or a curse, but I plan on adding two to four events each year for Round Table members to join in, beyond the eight meetings we have.

To that end, I am leading an eight mile walking tour of Camp Wildcat on Saturday, November 1st.  The eight miles sounds like a lot to most folks, but most of the walking is easy, and there are only two spots where we will see an increased heart rate.  

For those in the greater Cincinnati area, you can meet up for a carpool (details below).  For those not joining the carpool, meet at Hazel Patch by 10:00 a.m.  Directions from I-75 to the tour start are HERE.

Details for the event:

The Battle of Wildcat Mountain was the first effort of Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer to invade the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Our first trip will be a walking tour of the Wildcat battlefield in southern Kentucky. This tour will be held Saturday, November 1, 2014. We will meet at the Florence Meijers parking lot (Exit 182 on I-75, 4990 Houston Road – park behind the Chick-Fil-A) between 7:45 and 8:00 a.m., leaving at 8:00 a.m. We will carpool to Camp Wildcat, which is about a two-hour drive. We will start our tour in Hazel Patch and walk the Wilderness Road to Camp Wildcat, where we will proceed to walk the hiking trails on the battlefield. This walk will be eight miles in length and involve two short but steep changes in elevation. Make certain to wear comfortable walking shoes, bring water and a snack, and an appetite to discover a hidden Civil War gem. This will be an all-day trip based on driving time, touring, and stopping for a meal on the way home. Those interested in joining should contact Darryl Smith ( or 513-321-1539) so that we have an idea of how many folks to plan for. We will need drivers who are willing to drive other members, as well.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Eastern Civil War Trip

Caissons at The Wilderness
Yes, I know, it HAS been some time since I have posted regularly on this blog.  I am hoping that will change a bit now that the wedding and honeymoon are past, and the stress from planning and anticipation of those large life events has subsided.  Yep, I got married!  And the honeymoon was a great excuse to visit historical sites in the east while giving my new bride the chance to see many gardens as well as Washington, D.C.

However, the heat, like our trip to Gettysburg two summers ago, was oppressive.  While touring Fredericksburg/Chancellorsville/The Wilderness/Spotsylvania Court House, the temperature hit 100 degrees.  Days like those make it difficult to get out and walk the ground, but we did cover all the car tours and I got to see battlefields I had yet to tick off the list.  We also stopped at McDowell to see a bit of that area (part of Jackson's Valley Campaign). 

Add to this Monticello, Montpelier, Mount Vernon, Harpers Ferry, and the National Mall, and we had quite an historic week.  We hope to go back either later this year or early next year to enjoy cooler temperatures.

I was able to score some great titles, taking advantage of some ridiculous discounts at Harpers Ferry.  I have now added the following to the Civil War library:  Army of the Potomac - McClellan's First Campaign (Beatie), Colonels in Blue - Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the District of Columbia (Hunt), Chancellorsville and the Germans (Keller), Chancellorsville Battlefield Sites (Harrison), Simply Murder - The Battle of Fredericksburg (Mackowski and White, and The Fredericksburg Campaign (O'Reilly).

Some Battlefield Thoughts

Garden at Montpelier...Perryville has an empty corner in town
When I travel to other battlefields I often try to compare them to Perryville.  National parks have their advantages of course, as they often have large visitor centers, huge gift shops with massive book selections, usually a lot of interpretive signage, both modern and older.  However, many of them also suffer from development, and the four battlefields mentioned above suffer from modern encroachment.

Fredericksburg was a huge disappointment.  Much like Stones River, the battlefield is mostly covered by modern housing and business.  One cannot get a feel for the open ground in front of the stone wall, simply because it no longer exists.  But even the drive down to Prospect Hill was less than impressive.  No monumentation, and very little interpretation, and a lot of modern "progress".

The other three battlefields are more open, being further away from Fredericksburg proper, and have more opportunities for keeping the landscape as it appeared in 1863 and 1864, but they, too, have their issues with housing around many of the areas that should be preserved.  

After visiting the area, it makes me realize even more what a gem Perryville is and can be.  There are what, one thousand acres now saved?  And of those one thousand acres, most of it is very much the same as in was in the fall of 1862, and what isn't the same the park and the Friends of Perryville Battlefield will make the effort to make it that way.  This makes supporting the park, the Friends, and the Civil War Trust very important because at Perryville, your dollars are helping to save this land and make it one of the premier Civil War sites in the nation.  While Perryville doesn't have the eye-catching monuments of Gettysburg or the miles of paved tour roads of Antietam, what it does have is great potential, not only for the battlefield, but also for the town as well.

Bench at Ellwood (Wilderness Battlefield)
Anyway, my thoughts are all over the map with ideas for Perryville, things like benches at the tour stops to having Merchants Row cleaned up and installing green spaces to having more artillery displayed, including ammunition caissons.  My point is simply this: appreciate Perryville.  Make a trip to see the battlefield, walk the ground.  Spend a few dollars in the museum shop, buy gas at one of the two stations in town.  Join the Friends group and/or the Civil War Trust.  Become an advocate for Perryville!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spring Walking Tour - Huge Success!

Normally I have several of my hiking friends on these tours at Perryville, which helps keep the numbers decent.  For the spring walking tour, although it was expanded by both time on the field and amount of miles to be walked, there was only one of the hiking group who was able to make it, and to be honest, because of the lack of hikers I thought we would see a low turnout of participants.  Thank goodness I was wrong.  We had about forty folks show up, thirty-five for the morning tour, and about five replacements for the afternoon tour, keeping both tours at about thirty-five walkers.  This made the spring walking tour one of the most successful yet in terms of participants.

The weather was quite grand, going from overcast skies in the early morning to sun by the time the morning tour set off, and the sun stayed with us all day!  Having such great weather seemed to keep the group invigorated, even when dealing with a few ticks and some higher than normal grass (the park is suffering from having only one working mower, and miles of trails to be cut).  And we had some enjoyable banter post event at the new Bluegrass Pizza location, and even more banter at Beer Engine later that night! (V-The Market was undergoing some sort of remodel so we moved the post event location)

The park was kind enough to provide us some 10% discount coupons to be used in the museum, and I do believe several folks took advantage of a restocked book selection (probably the best I have seen in the last few years at Perryville).  Thank you, Joni House, for being so generous!  I hope the museum saw some increased sales!

I cannot thank both the participants who come out year after year, ask great questions and provide some great insight along the way, and I also really cannot thank Chuck Lott enough for his support, his knowledge, and his willingness to support the Perryville "mission".  I plan on having a talk with Chuck about the direction we go in the future.  We both liked the expanded tour, having a break for lunch, and covering more ground, but we also find that there are so many details it may call for even more specialization, or perhaps two tours each year, each one focusing on specific parts of the battle.  Stay tuned for details!

More tour pictures can be found on the Facebook page HERE.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dry Canteen Trail

Something I have come across a few times is a reference to the Dry Canteen Trail.  This is/was a Boy Scout "trail" that takes Alexander McCook's I Corps path from Mackville to the battlefield.  I've been doing a bit of searching, and was able to get some great info from Perryville resident Sam Reid.  First, the old map.

How about a patch for completing the trail?  Scouts had to walk the trail with empty canteens and were not allowed to stop by locals' homes to ask for water, in an effort to recreate and understand the hardships that McCook's men went through during the drought ridden summer of 1862.  Of course, being a hiker and backpacker, this about one of the worst things one can do (hike without water), so encouraging scouts to not drink water is not a wise decision.  Hopefully they have lifted that restriction a bit!

Here is the route of the Dry Canteen Trail from Mackville to the park.  Just a bit under ten miles, mostly on roads.

I am thinking that for future walking tours at Perryville I might offer this walk as the Friday warm up to the Saturday main event.  It will involve some car shuttling, but it does offer a) exercise and b) a chance to interpret a bit more of October 8th to those that may be interested.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Recent Library Additions

Having spent another glorious weekend at Chickamauga for the Seminar in the Woods, I have decided to focus even more on the American Civil War than before.  To that end I went through my bookshelves and cleared out numerous book on other subjects so that I could expand my Civil War library.  Seven bags to Half Price Books later, I have open shelves to refill!

I am going to try to focus my future purchases on more reference material on Perryville as well as western battles in general.  On the way to Chickamauga I picked up a two volume set on Stones River (The Stone's River Campaign 26 December 1862 - 5 January 1863), written by Lanny Smith.  These two volumes of around 800 pages each cover Stones River in such great detail I will be able to sell my Cozzens book on the battle.  As Stones River is the next battle for the Army of Ohio/Cumberland after Perryville, having details on many of the regiments that shared both battles on their banners is quite exciting.

I've also picked up a copy of The Battle Rages Higher, which is a recent regimental history of the 15th Kentucky Infantry.  Like many Kentucky regiments, many of the men that served within the 15th's ranks were from Ohio, which alone is interesting to me, but the 15th also played a pivotal role at Perryville so reading this title is adding details and enhancing my knowledge about the 15th and Perryville, something I hope to share more on the walking tours.

On the way from Amazon are two additional Perryville related regimental histories, one on the 24th Illinois and the other on the 42nd Indiana.  The latter regiment is rather well known at Perryville for their getting caught in Doctor's Creek with stacked arms as the Confederates launched their attack on McCook's right.  The 24th Illinois, a German regiment, receives scant mention in the general Perryville story, so I am hopeful that the regimental history will give me some salient points to cover on the walking tours.

For other western topics, I have three more books on their way.  Another regimental on the 36th Ohio (Crook's Regulars), a book covering the Battle of Campbell's Station (part of the Knoxville Campaign), and an interesting title called The Civil War in the Big Sandy River Valley.  This latter title covers some of the small battles and skirmishes in Eastern Kentucky like Ivy Mountain and Middle Creek.

On pre-order I also have Dave Powell's first volume of the Chickamauga Campaign (A Mad Irregular Battle) and Stuart Sanders' Maney's Confederate Brigade at the Battle of Perryville.  Dave is one half of the Chickamauga Study Group leadership (along with Park Historian Jim Ogden), and Stuart served many years as director of the Perryville Enhancement Project.  Stuart's Perryville Under Fire is a well-written account of the post battle sufferings the local communities went through, so I know that his forthcoming book will be excellent.  Dave has written a few books already related to Chickamauga, and the level of knowledge he shares about Chickamauga I am certain will translate well to his epic campaign history.  Heck, when Dave's books are published I will be able to sell my Cozzens Chickamauga book as well!

So, a rather drastic move to clear my shelves has turned into a buying frenzy!


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