Sunday, November 22, 2015

Trail Guide - Progress

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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Walking With History - My New Business Venture

My loving wife has been telling me for some time to start a business doing the things I love to do, walking battlefields and hiking/backpacking.  So, after having such a grand time with the Michigan Regimental Round Table during their recent tour at Perryville, I have jumped in an created Walking With History LLC.  The purpose is to provide folks a chance to have a walk on historic sites while covering the events that took place on those grounds.  The company will be able to cater tours based on level of experiene...want just a few hours at Perryville and a general overview of the battle?  I can do that.  Want a few days getting into the weeds and seeing some sites that most folks do not have access to?  I can do that.  Need a recommendation on a place to stay or grab a good local meal?  I can do that.

Not only will I be covering Perryville, but also Camp Wild Cat, Mill Springs, the Ohio Indian Wars of the 1790s (what the Army calls the Miami Campaign), the Miami-Erie Canal, and other local places, along with larger tours at Gettysburg, Antietam, and Chickamauga.  

It is quite an exciting time for me, and if you are looking for a tour, 2016 is wide open.  Please check the Walking With History website for details.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Perryville! Perryville! Perryville!

Looking at the main position of the 10th Ohio on Loomis Heights
I must admit, I become re-energized every time I make the 2+ hour sojourn to Perryville.  I was just at the battlefield a few weeks ago, making copies of park manager Kurt Holman's file on the 10th Ohio, and did some walking in some of the areas the 10th Ohio heroically fought.  That got me thinking about more unit histories within the context of the battle, much like the Stuart Sanders work on Maney's Brigade.

A few months ago I was contacted via the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table by a round table association in Michigan about whom to contact to lead a group tour at Perryville.  After a few messages suggesting they contact Chuck Lott but I could do it if Chuck was otherwise engaged, I found myself co-leading a trip this coming weekend for the Michigan Regimental Round Table, a group based in Farmington Hills.  To be honest, I am tagging along to learn what Chuck covers during a two day tour as every trip I have led at Perryville has been no more than a partial day, and I want to take advantage of getting inside the Squire Bottom House, explore Walker's Bend and the Dug Road area, and perhaps get inside some of the buildings along Merchant's Row in town.  While I expect on helping as needed, this is certainly Chuck's baby and I very appreciative to be "along for the ride."  Chuck has been diligently working on a wagon that the group can use, much like a hayride, to reduce the many miles of walking it would take to cover the battle in detail.  The group was kind enough to book my hotel room and invite my wife and I to their Saturday evening banquet.  A bit about the tour for the Michigan group can be found here: MRRT Fall Trip.

Sample elevation profile for the Donelson Loop Trail
This weekend will once again stoke the fires for my Perryville passion.  I have been slowly working on a walking/trail guide, something a bit different from the park's current numbered trail system, that will allow the casual visitor and serious battlefield tramper to break the battle down into smaller pieces by walking specific loops.  My observations of most park visitors at Perryville is this: they tour the museum, the Confederate cemetery and the monuments around the cemetery, then leave.  Some of them might drive the gravel road that leads to Loomis Heights, and some may drive on Hays-Mays Road to look at the Russell and Bottom House areas.  But very few of them get out to walk the battlefield, and by not doing so I believe they are missing out on how the battle truly unfolds and the importance of terrain.  Many are probably intimidated by the excellent walking trail map the park provides, as it includes about twenty miles of trails, and most folks won't walk more than a couple of miles and hence are probably not certain where to start.  Most of the the loops in the guide I am working on are less than three miles, and so should encourage more use of the trails and a better understanding of the battlefield.  This guide will be a work in process as the battlefield continues to expand and I do not want it to be published and then have the trail system change due to some major land acquisition (more important parcels are in the works).  But I may post a few of the trails here so that folks can provide feedback.

I also hope, based on the fact that folks have been asking about my tours at Perryville, to start a history walking tour company that would not only cover Perryville, but also Camp Wild Cat, Mill Springs, Richmond, along with sites from other periods of history.  More on this as I start the process of setting up my own business.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The 10th Ohio Volunteer Infanty

View of Squire Bottom House from 10th Ohio's position
10th Regiment Infantry (3 Years). Organized at Camp Dennison, Ohio, June 3, 1861. Left State for West Virginia June 24, and duty at Grafton, Clarksburg and Buckhannon till August. Attached to 2nd Brigade, Army of Occupation, W. Va., to September: 1861. Benham's Brigade, Kanawha Division, West Virginia, to October, 1861. 1st Brigade, Kanawha Division West Virginia, to November, 1861. 17th Brigade, Army Ohio, to December, 1861. 17th Brigade, 3rd Division, Army Ohio, to September, 1862. 17th Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Corps, Army Ohio, to November, 1862.

Strength - 528 men. 60 killed, 169 wounded, 8 missing. 

Commander - Joseph W. Burke (Lieutenant Colonel). Joseph Walter Burke was a Union soldier during the Civil War who served in the 10th Ohio as a Major, Lieutenant Colonel, and Colonel. He commanded the reserve brigade of the Army of the Cumberland and was brevetted Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers. Burke was born in County Mayo, Ireland, and took part in the revolt of 1848 despite the fact he had four brothers in the British Army. 

Weapons - .69 caliber smoothbore muskets and .577 Enfield rifled muskets.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


The Joseph Poffenberger Farm
As you may or may not be aware, I have started a new job that entails traveling to Hagerstown, Maryland on occasion.  Of course, Hagerstown is a perfect place to visit some of the iconic Civil War locations, as it is twenty minutes from Antietam, thirty from Harper's Ferry, and less than an hour to Gettyburg and Monocacy.  Add in South Mountain, and one has quite a lot of options to get a battlefield fix.  In only my second week on the job I had to travel to Hagerstown, and so took advantage of driving to the work site by spending several hours walking some portions of Antietam that I had not previously explored.

Mumma Farm on left, Roulette on right
Leaving early from Cincinnati, I arrived at the Antietam visitor center by 1:00 p.m.  A bit of browsing in the bookstore (not as grand as I remembered it from a previous trip...must be a result of Eastern National taking over), I snagged a couple of items, particularly of note a book on the Shepherdstown fight that took place immediately after Antietam, and did a bit of the driving tour, stopping at a few places pertinent to the morning fighting before dismounting from my vehicle to walk the trail system starting near the Sunken Road.  I wanted to focus on this trip on the Middle Bridge area, where the Regulars saw some action, and I wanted to get a few miles of walking in.  So, taking the Three Farms Trail north away from the Sunken Road, I passed the Roulette and Mumma Farms, before bearing east then south to pass the Parks and Newcomer Farms, taking a side trip to Tidball's Battery location along the way.  

Overgrown "trail" near Tidball's position
One thing of note, and this reinforces my stand against Perryville becoming a National Park, is the trails at Antietam could be in much better condition, and if the NPS is millions in the hole in their maintenance budget, how in the heck could they keep all the trails at Perryville open?

After stopping in the information center at the Newcomer Farm (it was a hot day and I wanted a cool break for a few moments), I headed back out to try and find the trail as it goes along Antietam Creek near the Middle Bridge.  I was able to locate the trail head, and continue along the Three Farms Trail to the Sherrick Farm Trail, taking part of that trail back to the park road, and walking the park road back to the observation tower.  I spent quite a few minutes in the top of the tower, enjoying the mountain views and excellent breezes, before heading to Boonsboro for an early dinner.

The Regulars were active in the center, South Mountain in the distance
Some takeaways from this quick trip.  First, the terrain is very rolling with limited sight distances; I had forgotten how rolling the battlefield can be.  Second, the Regulars get the short end of the straw at Antietam as several battalions and batterie were engaged, coming within a stone's throw of the current location of the National Cemetery, yet there is not a lot of interpretation nor information about the Middle Bridge fighting.  And, someone really needs to write a book on the Regulars at Antietam.  Utilizing the trail system from the Sunken Road to Sherrick Farm, one can really delve into the key positions, farms, and locations of the Regulars, and a book, or at least a guide, about their involvement would encourage more battlefield trampers to visit this part of Antietam and gain a different perspective of the bloodiest day of the war.

I am looking forward to more "work trips" as it gives me a great opportunity to visit these key eastern battlefields.  In two weeks, Gettysburg! 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The National Park Issue

The proposal that Perryville should become a national park is making the rounds again.  I am personally against this movement, for a few reasons, which are summarized quite nicely on this blog post by Richard McCormick.  He captures my concerns quite well and I hope others realize what could happen to Perryville is national battlefield status is given.  I am certainly not against  increasing visitation and awareness, but I am against it when it threatens to ruin the park's interpretation and annual reenactment.

Here are some pictures from Pea Ridge from a recent (July, 2015) trip.  The second picture shows the nature of many of the walking trails, over ankle high with grasses and weeds, a perfect home for ticks.  That is a huge deterrent is getting visitors out of their cars and walking the ground.  This WOULD happen at Perryville due to the maintenance issues the National Park Service is having maintaining properties they already own.

Trail is along the left

There is supposed to be a trail on one side of this fence line...can you tell which side?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Walking Tour 2015 - Rainy AND Fun!

At the Bottom Barn site
Well, Mother Nature had her way for the latest edition of the walking tour, but we still had 25 folks attend for the Saturday portion of the weekend.  It was quite enjoyable for me personally to help share the Perryville experience while experiencing for myself new ground, new revelations, and new learning from the likes of Chuck Lott, Stuart Sanders, and Kurt Holman.  Chuck's wealth of knowledge on the battle never ceases to amaze, Stuart's passionate and articulate delivery weaves an interesting story, and Kurt shared his expertise on the history of the park with a wonderful presentation during the evening session, followed by Stuart's talk on the aftermath of the battle.

While the rain dampened attendance (I truly expected, with nice weather, 50-60 attendees) it did not dishearten the story being shared and the attendees trooped on through the various downpours and misty conditions.  To be able to view Loomis' Heights from the Bottom Farm for the first time and see the positions of the 3rd and 10th Ohio from the that perspective was inspiring.  And to have attendees from Michigan, Missouri, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Ohio, and Kentucky was very uplifting for me personally.

And really, due to my Civil War touring buddy Andy Papen, I gave some focus studying the Peters Hill fighting in more detail than I have even given prior.  He and I spent a bit of time Thursday evening along the old Springfield Road, detailing positions and landmarks, to get a better feel for the lay of the land and unit positions.  Peters Hill is an area I want to be able to tour with the group in future years if arrangements can be made with land owners.  He and I also toured the Munfordville fighting on Thursday, and he and I, along with Guthrie Gray, walked the Dry Canteen Trail on Friday, covering the ten miles in four hours, enjoying the company of (mostly) friendly dogs and haughty Palominos.

We were able to visit the excellent Bluegrass Pizza on Friday, and enjoyed BBQ at the new Brother's BBQ and Brewing on Saturday (both located in Danville).  And that Amish grocery store outside of Perryville on the Lebanon Pike still make a mean deli sandwich!

And yes, there WILL be another tour next year, with hopefully one of the sessions covering the Confederate artillery positions.  More on that in the future!

Here is a link to additional photos on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

9th Regiment Infantry (3 Years). Organized at Camp Dennison, Ohio, May 27 to June 13, 1861. Ordered to West Virginia June 16. Attached to 3rd Brigade, Army of Occupation, W. Va., to August, 1861. 2nd Brigade, Kanawha Division West Virginia, to November, 1861. 3rd Brigade, Army Ohio, to December, 1861. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Army Ohio, to September, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Corps, Army Ohio, to November, 1862.

Strength - unknown.  1 wounded, 2 missing.

Commander - Karl (Charles) Joseph (Lieutenant Colonel).  Colonel Gustav Kammerling was on sick leave in Louisville.

Weapons - Model 1842 .69 caliber muskets.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The 3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry

3rd Regiment Infantry (3 Years). Organized at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, June 4, 1861. Moved to Grafton, W. Va., thence to Clarksburg, W. Va., June 20-25, 1861. Attached to 1st Brigade, Army of Occupation, West Virginia, to September, 1861. Reynolds' Command, Cheat Mountain, W. Va., to November, 861. 17th Brigade, Army of the Ohio, to December, 1861. 17th Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of the Ohio, to September, 1862. 17th Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Corps, Army of the Ohio, to November, 1862.

Strength - 500. 42 killed, 148 wounded.

Commander - John Beatty. Born near Sandusky, OH, December 16th, 1828.  Established with his brother the Beatty Brothers Bank (later the First National Bank) in Cardington, OH in 1854.  In April, 1861 raised a company of the 3rd Ohio Infantry, later becoming lieutenant colonel.  Promoted to colonel prior to Perryville.  Later promoted to brigadier general and commanded a brigade at Stones River and Chickamauga.  Resigned his commission in January, 1864 to return to the banking business, allowing his brother to enter the army.  Elected to Congress in 1868.  Candidate for Ohio governor in 1884, and served as president of the Ohio Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military Park Commission.  Died Columbus, OH, December 21st, 1914.  Buried in Oakland Cemetery, Sandusky, OH.

Weapons - Two companies (flank) with Pattern 1853 Enfield (.577 caliber).  Remaining companies with .69 caliber rifled muskets.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry

2nd Regiment Infantry (3 Years). Organized at Camp Dennison, Ohio, July 17 to September 20, 1861. Left State for Kentucky September 4. Operations in vicinity of Olympian Springs, Ky., till November. Action at West Liberty October 23. Olympian Springs November 4. Ivy Mountain November 8. Piketown November 8-9. Moved to Louisville, Ky., thence to Bacon Creek, Ky., and duty there until February, 1862. Attached to 9th Brigade, Army of the Ohio, October to December, 1861. 9th Brigade, 3rd Division, Army of the Ohio, to September, 1862. 9th Brigade, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Ohio, to November, 1862.

Strength - 460 engaged.  31 killed, 77 wounded, 2 missing.

Commander - John Kell.  Captain, Co. F, 1st Ohio Infantry (three month regiment), April 17, 1861.  Honorably mustered out August, 16th, 1861.  Lieutenant Colonel, 2nd Ohio Infantry, August 27th, 1861.  Colonel, 2nd Ohio Infantry, December 24th, 1862.  Gun shot wound, Stones River, Tennessee, December 31st, 1862.  Born in April, 1817, Germany.  Died on December 31st, 1862.  Killed in action, Stones River, Tennessee.  Captain, Company I, 3rd Ohio Infantry during the Mexican-American War.  Tailor and postmaster.  Resided Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio, and Franklin, Warren County, Ohio.  Buried at Woodhill Cemetery, Franklin, Ohio (Section 4, Lot 17).

Weapons - Pattern 1853 Enfield (.577 caliber)

Medal of Honor Winner - William Surles.  Rank and Organization: Private, Company G, 2nd Ohio Infantry. Place and Date: At Perryville, Kentucky, October 8, 1862. Entered Service At: Steubenville, Ohio. Born: February 24, 1845, Steubenville, Ohio. Date Of Issue: August 19, 1891.  Citation: In the hottest part of the fire he stepped in front of his colonel* to shield him from the enemy's fire.

* Actually Major Anson McCook who was later colonel of the regiment.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Walking Tour Updates

While some details are still being worked out, I can announce that noted author Stuart Sanders will be involved with the Perryville tour weekend.  He will be giving his talk on the aftermath of the battle for our evening session (based on his excellent Perryville Under Fire book), but we still are working out where that will be held.  He will also be joining us during the day for the walking tour, so if it works out we will have one full session on Maney's Brigade, the subject of Stuart's second book on Perryville (Maney's Confederate Brigade at the Battle of Perryville).

The evening event will be held either in Danville at a restaurant or conference room, or on the battlefield at the Civil War Hall across from the battlefield museum.  The evening session, if not at a restaurant, will start at 7:00 p.m., allowing visitors a few hours between the afternoon and evening sessions to enjoy a meal and a bit of a rest.

We are slowly making this weekend into a true battlefield event, which has been one of the goals for doing the walking tours.  Expanding it into a multi-day event, and having folks such as Stuart be involved can only help bring about awareness for the battlefield while also giving folks a chance for more in-depth study.  I hope to see you in May at Perryville!


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