The Perryville 154th Anniversary 2016 Event was one of the most heavily researched and meticulously staged events in a decade! The Friends of Perryville Battlefield, the Perryville Battlefield Park and the State of Kentucky each played pivotal roles in transforming the battlefield park and the newly acquired Civil War Trust property into a stunning 1862 landscape.
The Perryville Battlefield Park was an amazing sight with hundreds of acres of open landscape newly sown with native grasses and streaked with wild flowers as far as the eye could see. The vast sea of vintage grass contrasting with tree lines and distant groves of hardwoods beginning to take up their fall colors enhanced the beauty.
The serenity of the rural farms and pastures was soon broken by the approach of both Union and Confederate troops.
The fight for the cornfield began with Gen. Donelson’s brigade moving forward into position; B. Gen. Terrill’s Union Brigade was forming their line at the open knob. Maney’s Brigade, assisted by Wharton’s Cavalry attacked pushing through Terrill’s regiments as they arrived on the field. The Union position on the open knob was overrun and the Confederates moved up artillery as the infantry line pushed forward into the cornfield. The Confederates ran headlong into Col. Starkweather’s veteran brigade. The Union Forces were pressed hard and forced across the Dixville Road. The Union line was driven from the hill only to regain the ground with a strong counter attack.
The Fight for Bottom’s Barn, Lytle’s brigade took up position on the right flank of Union 1st Corps commanded by Gen. McCook. The 3rd OVI, were positioned along the fence rail in Bottom’s barn yard overlooking Henry Bottom’s House. The calm was broken by Confederate artillery shot & shell. Soon after, two heavily supported Confederate brigades came out of the woods and attacked towards the 3rd Ohio with the 15th Kentucky in reserve, the attack pushing the 42nd Indiana from the creek. The Confederates coordinated attack on the 3rd Ohio and with a force 3 times their size. As the 3rd Ohio steadfastly held the fence line the Confederate artillery fire set the best barn in the county alight . The strong wind blew the blinding smoke through the Union line. The fierce battle lines were extraordinary close at or near only 100 yards apart. The Confederates were protected by a stone wall while the 3rd OVI’s only shelter from the bullets and shell fragments was a thin post and rail fence. After nearly 30 minutes of horrendous fire, the 3rd Ohio gave ground to the 15th Kentucky and withdrew. The 15th Kentucky held the line behind the post and rail fence with the smoke from the burning barn still choked and blinded them. After a half hour in the heat of the barn fire and storm of confederate bullets the 15th Kentucky was forced to withdraw after the Confederates positioned themselves behind the Union troops. Bushrod Johnson’s supporting brigade under the command of Patrick Cleburne broke the Union positions to the north, forcing the entire Union line to crumble and retire.
With the close of the Perryville 2016 event and all of our individual efforts and expectations behind us, we would like to thank the Friends of Perryville Battlefield, the Perryville Battlefield Park and the State of Kentucky as well as the Civil War Trust. Thank you to each of you who donate to these important preservation causes for making the premier Civil War event in 2016 a reality.
-By Col. S.A. Miles