ISSUE NUMBER 9

HISTORICAL MINIATURES BY GEORGE GRASSE
HISTORICAL MINIATURES JOURNAL

AUGUST 2010

HISTORICAL MINIATURES JOURNAL ISSUE NUMBER 9

PUBLISHED BY GEORGE GRASSE

PHOTO TOUR OF THE PERRYVILLE BATTLEFIELD 1862

By George Grasse

 

#1 OVERVIEW OF THE BATTLEGROUND:  This map is taken from Perryville - This Grand Havoc of Battle by Kenneth W. Noe, The University Press of Kentucky, 2001.  It shows the overall simplicity of the battleground and deployment of both sides.  Only the upper one third of the map represents the area of heavy fighting.  At the top left are the brigades of McCook's Union Corps: Terrell, Starkweather, Webster, Harris, and Lytle.  These five Union brigades bore the brunt of Bragg's assault represented by all of the brigades shown opposite McCook.  All of the photos that follow were taken in this area of the battlefield.

 

#2 DONELSON'S CONFEDERATE BRIGADE: This view looks south with the Perryville Road in the left background.  Donelson's Confederate brigade was deployed in this area roughly parallel to road facing west or to the right.  This brigade opened the battle under Bragg's assumption that he was facing an isolated Union force.  This view shows the broken but gently sloping nature of the battlefield.

 

#3 DONELSON'S CONFEDERATE BRIGADE IN TROUBLE: This view looks directly west.  Parson's Ridge is off-camera to the right but Union artillery there are raking Donelson's line as he moves ahead.  To the left on the ridge are elements of three of McCook's brigades: Harris, Lytle, and Webster who are moving to block Donelson and hitting his left flank with musketry and cannon fire.  The small white marked in the right distance is Donelson's furthest point of advance.

 

#4 PARSON'S RIDGE: General William R. Terrell ordered the forward deployment this high ground of an improvised battery commanded by Lt. Charles C. Parsons of seven (7) 12 pounders and one (1) 10 pounder Parrott rifle supported by the 123rd Illinois Infantry Regiment. This view is taken from the Confederate side of the ridge as though they are about to assault the ridge line.  A lone cannon on the sky line marks the crest along which Parson's guns were placed.  Terrell was intent on using the guns against Donelson far off to the left.

 

#5 ON TOP OF PARSON'S RIDGE:  I am standing next to the lone gun seen in the previous photo.  Over my right shoulder is the next ridge known as "Starkweather's Ridge" on which were elements of Terrell's Union brigade.  The distance from Parson's and Starkweather's ridges is about 250 yards with a sizeable "valley" covered in corn between.  The remainder of Terrell's Brigade (80th Illinois and 105th Ohio) were in the "valley" in support.

 

#6 VIEW FROM PARSON'S RIDGE TO THE EAST: Parson's guns were so involved in firing on Donelson's Confederate brigade at right angles to this view several hundred yards away and did not notice the "creeping" advance of Maney's Confederate brigade filling the view from the distant tree line.  Although the topography is the same, the undergrowth was such that the Confederate infantry were able to get to the fence line that runs from the right of the picture to the left without being noticed.  From there, the distance to the crest of Parson's Ridge, from where this picture was taken, is about 125 yards.  When Maney's Brigade was finally noticed, Parson's guns swung around and began firing but did not appreciably halt the advance so that an impetuous bayonet charge by the supporting 123rd Illinois was ordered.  It was quickly broken up and the Maney's infantry swept the ridge.

 

#7 VIEW FROM PARSON'S RIDGE TO STARKWEATHER'S RIDGE: The main part of Starkweather's Ridge runs from the white modern barn to about the middle of the photo and descends into a small valley cut by the Mackville dirt road behind the prominent tree-lined hill on the left.  All of the remainder of Terrell's Union brigade were in valley trying to get organized to resist Maney's Confederate brigade now over-running Parson's Ridge.  Starkweather's brigade has nearly finished its deployment on their ridge getting ready to support Terrell.  All of the remainder of the McCook's Corps is off to the left out of sight and, beyond them, the remainder of the Union Army.

 

#8 MANEY'S BRIGADE ASSAULTS STARKWEATHER: This is the view Maney's Confederate infantry had after crossing the small cornfield "valley" between Parson's Ridge (behind the camera) and Starkweather's Ridge (directly in front).  A relatively long exchange of musketry preceded the final charge up the hill.  However, Starkweather was able to disengage and fall back across yet another small "valley" and take his final position on yet another defensible ridge with his 24th Illinois just to the left of the Widow Gibson home and connecting with the 2nd Ohio of Harris' brigade to the right of that place. 

 

#9 DONELSON CONTINUES TO ADVANCE UNDER HEAVY FIRE: This view is taken from the the high ground on Donelson's left shown in photo #3.  In that photo, Donelson's brigade has passed the large, lone tree and crested the small ridge heading toward the white marker in the middle right distance.  From this position, Harris' Union brigade would be firing into Donelson's line.  Stewart's Confederate brigade would be coming up on Donelson's left to neutralize this threat.  The center of the Union line would form on either side facing toward the camera of the small reproduction log cabin representing Widow Gibson's home site: Harris' Union brigade on the left in this view and Starkweather's Union brigade on the right.  The ground rising on the left becomes Loomis Heights.

 

#10a DEFENSE OF LOOMIS HEIGHTS: The white road in the left middle distance marks the spot of Harris' Battery shown in the photo to the right.  This gun marks the spot where Simmonson's Union battery 5th Indiana Light overlooks Doctor's Creek.  Harris' battery 19th Indiana Light in the distance overlooks the line of advance of Donelson's Brigade. #10b DEFENSE OF LOOMIS HEIGHTS:  This is Harris' battery 19th Indiana Light.  Simmonson's battery 5th Indiana Light is in the middle distance just to the left of the two small white objects off the road.  Both batteries were supported by Union infantry.  The combination of these arms held back Donelson, Stewart, and Brown, until Cleburne successfully drove off Simmonson's guns leaving the supporting infantry to be driven off.

 

#11 H. P. BOTTOM HOUSE AND CLEBURNE'S ATTACK: This view from one of Simmonson's guns shows the terrain up which Cleburne advanced all the time firing to drive off the vulnerable battery.  Once the guns left, the Union infantry was hit be Cleburne and elements of Johnson's brigades.  The result was the relocation of the main Union line all the way back to Russell house at the junction of the Mackville and Dixville-Benton Road.

 

#12 MUSEUM STOP: Union general officer of the time. 

 

MUSEUM STOP: Confederate battle flags

I TOOK THESE PHOTOS IN MAY 2010 WHILE ENJOYING VISITS TO LOCAL KENTUCKY BOURBON DISTILLERIES

 

MAKER'S MARK WOODFORD RESERVE
 

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kentucky Department of Parks, Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site Trail Guide.

Noe, Kenneth W.   Perryville - This Grand Havoc of Battle. The University Press of Kentucky, 2001

Sanders, Stuart W. The 1862 Kentucky Campaign and the Battle of Perryville.  Blue & Gray, Volume XXII, Issue 5, 2005. Editor & Publisher David E. Roth, Columbus, Ohio.

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