I have been slowly working on a Perryville trail guide with a purpose to encourage more folks to get beyond the visitor's center and Confederate Cemetery and explore the battlefield and its surrounding areas a bit more thoroughly. Many times while I am at Perryville, I see plenty of folks stopping at the park, but very few of them get beyond the core area. I do believe that the trail map folks are given might be overwhelming due to the many miles of trails that are shown. My trail guide will provide 4-6 short hikes on the battlefield that focus on specific parts of the fighting so that visitors can delve more deeply into the Perryville experience in smaller, bite-sized chunks. The trail guide will also have a modified town walking tour, and longer walks for the Federal I and III Corps approach routes to the battlefield.
Here is a bit of a sample of what folks can expect. I need to add in more details, but this should give you an idea how the guide will include directions, an elevation profile, and a map.
The Maney Loop Trail
“The bullets were coming like hail against the old fences, when finally an Orderly came on the run with an order from the Colonel to get out of there.”
John C. Hartzell, 105th Ohio Infantry
Distance – 1.5 miles
Time to Complete – One to two hours.
Focus – Seeing that Donelson’s Brigade was in trouble, Cheatham ordered George Maney’s Brigade (41st Georgia Infantry, 1st, 6th, 9th, and 27th Tennessee Infantry, and Turner’s Battery) to the left to attack the northern Federal positions that are pouring flanking fire into Donelson’s regiments.
Directions - From the Visitor Center head towards the Civil War Hall, staying to the left of that building. Behind the Hall you will find a mown path that leads downhill to a footbridge and up the other side of the swale to the park’s picnic shelter. Pass the shelter and use the paved path. Bear right along the park road and go .1 mile to a mown path on the left (if you reach the main park road you have traveled too far). Take the mown path to Tour Stop 3 – Stewart’s Advance. Facing the interpretive panel, look behind you to view the area where Cheatham’s Division came through Walker’s Bend, crossed the Chaplin River, and deployed to attack Federal First Corps (Major General Alexander Mc. McCook). Continue on the same path to Stop 4 – Turner’s Battery (Smith’s Mississippi Battery – Lieutenant William B. Turner – two 12 pounder howitzers, two 6 pounder iron smoothbores). From this point bear left (southeast) towards the wooded fence line at the bottom of the ridge and Tour Stop 5 – Maney’s Fence. Portions of Maney’s Brigade halted at the fence and slugged it out with the Federal 33rd Brigade (Brigadier General William R. Terrill) which was moving into place along the Open Knob (123rd Illinois, 105th Ohio, 80th Illinois, Garrard’s Detachment, and Parson’s Independent Battery). Follow the path to the top of the steep rise in front of you to Tour Stop 6 – The Open Knob. From the knob push ever westward into the low ground to Tour Stop 7 – The Cornfield. It was here along the fence line near the road, within the cornfield, that the untried men of the 21st Wisconsin Infantry (Colonel Benjamin J. Sweet – 663 men) came under fire from both front and rear as they tried to stem the Confederate advance. Head towards the road and carefully cross and take the mown path up the steep rise to Tour Stop 8 – Starkweather’s Hill. Here were posted two Federal batteries, the 4th Indiana Battery Light Artillery (Captain Asahel K. Bush – two 6 pounder James Rifles, two 6 pounder smoothbores, two 12 pounder howitzers) and the 1st Kentucky Light Artillery, Battery A (Captain David C. Stone - two 6 pounder James Rifles, two 6 pounder smoothbores, two 10 pounder Parrotts). Supporting the batteries were the veterans of the 1st Wisconsin Infantry (Lieutenant Colonel George B. Bingham – 407 men). After visiting both battery sites, head southeast down the hill towards the bend in the road, cross over, and take a sharp right after moving through the fence line. Proceed to Tour Stop 9 – An Act of Mercy. It was in this area where part of the 79th Pennsylvania (Colonel Henry A. Hambright – 530 men) of the Federal 28th Brigade (Colonel John C. Starkweather) changed facing from east to north to flank Maney’s attack against Starkweather’s Hill. From Tour Stop 9 head southeast along the low ridge to Tour Stop 10 – Bloodbath at the Crib. Turn left (northeast) then left again at the next intersection (northwest) and follow the path back to the Visitor’s Center. This concludes the Maney Loop Trail.