Friday, May 11, 2018

In 10 images, the beauty of Perryville (Ky.) battlefield

A field of buttercups where the 3rd Ohio and 15th Kentucky made their stand on the Union right flank.
    PANORAMA: From this ridge, Union artillery dueled with Rebel artillery positioned 
                    on hills in the distance. (Click on image for full-screen panorama.)

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At Perryville, golden skies reluctantly give way to ominous, black clouds. Despite threatening weather, much beauty remains this morning on a hilly Kentucky battlefield where Union and Confederate soldiers clashed on Oct. 8, 1862, in the unheralded western theater battle. Near where inexperienced 40th Indiana troops made their stand, a man in a brown checkered shirt, jeans and long boots rides a chestnut mare on a trail as his gray dog eagerly leads the the way. Buttercups dominate a field where the 15th Kentucky and 3rd Ohio valiantly attempted to hold off a Confederate charge on the extreme right flank of the Union army. Here a Rebel artillery shell ignited a barn --- the acrid smoke from the hit obscured the Federals' view -- but there's no trace of the structure today. And in a rolling field of green bordered by a snake-rail fence and a wood line, a marker reveals the horror of the marvelous landscape: 40 soldiers in the 79th Pennsylvania were killed here nearly 156 years ago.

A statue of a Confederate soldier stands watch at the mass grave of his comrades. Two hundred Rebels
may be buried in the cemetery opposite the small Perryville visitors' center and museum.
A marker at the base of the memorial and a Confederate national flag.
A tombstone for one of the two known soldiers buried at the Confederate cemetery in Perryville, Ky.
In a field on the Union right flank, buttercups bloom where wounded soldiers once lay.
      PANORAMA: Where 79th Pennsylvania suffered 189 casualties, including 37 killed.
                                       (Click at upper right for full-screen experience.)
Nearly pristine, the Perryville battlefield is known for rolling terrain that sometimes bedeviled soldiers.
            PANORAMA: From Starkweather's Hill, Union artillery was forced to retreat.
                                       (Click at upper right for full-screen experience.)
Union artillery position on Starkweather's Hill. The Federals were forced to retreat to another ridge.

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  1. Thank you for the Perryville posts this week. I admit that geography - it is a bit more than 2 hours from my home, easily the closest major battlefield to me - is a reason why it’s my favorite Civil War site, but my state has actually (surprisingly) done a terrific job of keeping it so beautiful and has worked with the Civil War Trust to preserve it. I am proud of that and really enjoy visiting it.

    I have enjoyed your perspectives. Thank you again for sharing them

  2. Awesome pictures John and a beautiful battlefield. Hard to imagine the shock and awe happening in that peaceful place more than 150 years ago.