Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Non-Civil War Post, Sort Of

I came across this site from a Facebook post by the Braddock Road Preservation Association, which I joined last fall during their excellent annual weekend held at Jumonville (yes, THAT Jumonville, you know, George Washington and Half King).  I enjoy many other military history interests (don't bring up Arthur St. Clair, Josiah Harmar, or that Anthony Wayne guy in my presence unless you have a couple of hours to listen to me ramble on), from the French and Indian War up through modern conflicts.  So when I attended the BRPA seminar last fall, I was hopeful that it would be enjoyable experience, much like the Chickamauga study group I am fortunate to spend time with every March. (led by Jim Ogden and Dave Powell)  I was happy with my trip to western Pennsylvania, spending Friday on a bus tour from Cumberland, Maryland back to Fort Necessity, and on Saturday listening to some excellent speakers covering a wide variety of topics related to the French and Indian War period.  This year has an interesting lineup as well, so I hope to save up my pennies and attend again.

Okay, so I am way off topic already...the Facebook post was from this site which pimps a fictional book set along the Forbes Road.  Other than reading Allen Eckert's great historical fiction series, I have a tendency to stick to non-fiction, but the website has a page that sets the historical context about the Forbes Road and the historical sites one can still visit rather well.  

What does any of this have to do with the Civil War, or Perryville?  Nothing, and everything.  This is one of those posts where I wish folks could and would and should do more at Perryville to present the Civil War battlefield tramper as well as the casual Civil War tourist, a deeper experience at Perryville.  No, this is not a rant against the Friends group...they are a dedicated, passionate, and hard-working bunch of folks who do a lot already, but perhaps....

Last year we expanded the walking tour to include an extra day of walking from Mackville to Perryville, following Alexander McCook's I Corps on its approach to the battlefield, and added an evening session that saw Kurt Holman and Stuart Sanders give great presentations.  Alas, these extra offerings did not result in a great turnout as Mother Nature rained on us all day and kept the sunshine visitor home, but still this is something I would like to see added to the Perryville event calendar, a study group/round table/seminar, that could give both the casual and dedicated Perryville visitor an annual event to look forward to every year.

The battlefield tramper can choose from specific walks each year that would cover ground not normally visited and discussed.  The casual visitor could attend a basic tour that covers the core aspects of the battle.  All could attend talks held in the evenings or on Sunday.  Bus tour on Friday, various tours catered to different levels of visitors during the day on Saturday, talks on Friday and Saturday evenings, and perhaps a half day program on Sunday morning.  Get the living history folks to come out to perform not only musket and artillery firing demonstrations, but also 

There are facilities already in place that could be used.  The Civil War Hall can hold folks for talks, the picnic shelter can be used for more talks and demonstrations, and why not have a bus tour that covers some of the approaches and sites related to the battle?  In town there are also some meeting spaces if needed.  There are also local businesses that could cater boxed lunches.  There are enough experts that can host tours and/or give talks or presentations.  A bus can be rented and covered by a bus tour fee for attendees.

What holds this back?  The amount of time volunteers have to put into such an effort, because it would be an effort.  And to ask the short-handed and under-funded staff at the park, or the Friends group who is tearing down post war buildings, installing yards of fences, and organizing an annual reenactment to do more is too much.  Yet this sort of effort would have to have some sort of local involvement.  

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