Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Perryville Weekend

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be asked to lead a tour at Perryville by my Civil War buddy Andy for his Missouri Civil War round table.  Because his group is relatively small, we opened it up for a few more folks, and in all had thirteen battlefield trampers from Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Kentucky.  Friday afternoon I met most of the group in Danville at the Hampton Inn and we headed to the Peters Hill area, starting near the G. Bottom house and discussing the bivouac area of the Federal III Corps, in particular Phil Sheridan's division and Dan McCook's brigade along with Speed Fry and his 10th Indiana.  Setting up the scene of the early morning fighting of October 8th, we drove our cars slowly along old Springfield Pike, and saw the Turpin House (Sheridan's headquarters), and parked along Bull Lane where we discussed the retreat of the 7th Arkansas to the Bottom Hill mass, the counterattack of the 5th and 7th Arkansas against the deployed III Corps, as well as Gay's cavalry attack against the Confederates.  We also covered Powel(l)'s brigade movements on the afternoon of the 8th, Robert Mitchell's counterattack against Powel(l) and , and the closeness of the Peters Hill mass to the I Corps' positions.  We moved into town, stopping by Carlin's Federal brigade location and visited historic Merchant's Row as I thought it was important to show the group the town as well as the battlefield,  As it was getting fairly late we headed into Danville and had a great time at Bluegrass Pizza before heading back to the hotel to go over the Kentucky Campaign, setting up the next day's tour.

Saturday morning the group, joined by three others, including Chickamauga blogger and author Dave Powell, spent the first hour or so touring the museum and seeing the excellent film about the battle, then we gathered up into cars and drove out to Loomis Heights to start our talk about the deployment of Harris's and Lytle's Federal brigades, the attack of Jones's Confederate brigade, followed by Brown's brigade, then wandered down to Doctor's Creek to see the bluffs and the area where the 42nd Indiana were located.  Moving around to the Squire Bottom farm, we were able to see the excellent work completed by the Friends group with the addition of more rail and post fencing, along with the beginning of a stone wall added near the Bottom house.  Moving to the 3rd Ohio's position, we were able to see with clarity the closeness of Gilbert's III Corps to McCook's Corps, the plight of the outflanked 15th Kentucky and 3rd Ohio, the attacks of Johnson's, Adams's, Cleburne's, and Wood's rebel brigades, and then headed towards the Russell House site to finish this portion of the core Perryville battlefield.

After an excellent lunch provided by the Missouri group, we covered Cheatham's attack against the green troops of Jackson's Federal Division and the mostly seasoned troops of John Starkweather's brigade.  We pushed towards the last position held by Starkweather (and site of the latest Civil War Trust's recent campaign to save this core piece of property), then ended the day with a chat about the aftermath of Perryville.  We headed back to our cars and headed to Danville to enjoy bar-b-que from Brother's.  A few of us gathered in the hotel's lobby area to enjoy more discussion.

It was a whirlwind weekend, covering much more of the campaign and battle than I normally get to talk about, and it led to some great comments I was able to add to my business website.  It was also enjoyable to receive very nice feedback from Morgan's Raid expert David Mowery, who has himself led numerous Civil War tours.  I am hopeful that the group was able to enjoy Perryville and a couple of folks have already mentioned return visits to the battlefield.


  1. With your knowledge and such a beautiful park, I'm sure it was terrific.

    1. Thanks, Richard! I feel like it was, in many ways, my most successful tour, from a knowledge viewpoint. I feel like I have the battle down fairly well now. Hope to see you on the 21st!



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