2012 Perryville 150th Commemoration
Battle Reenactment Scenarios
All Scenarios are on the exact, historic ground where the events actually happened 150 years ago, and all the battle reenactment scenarios are scripted to follow these actual events as closely as possible.
Saturday, October 6, 2012 – Morning “Sunrise” Scenario (To be enacted at 7:00am)
This scenario will attempt to simulate the events that took place at approximately 2:00 PM on Wednesday, October 8th, 1862. Preceded by a sweep by Confederate Colonel John Wharton’s Cavalry which drove in the skirmish line of the 33rd Ohio Infantry, Brigadier General Daniel Donelson’s Brigade made the opening attack on the Union left flank. Donelson’s lead regiment, the 16th Tennessee Infantry, finding itself alone, was ordered to attack. They attacked up “the Valley of Death” (as their Colonel John Savage later called it) right into the center of Union First Corps – 370 Confederates vs. about 13,000 Union soldiers. The 16th Tennessee was later re-enforced, but the regiment lost almost 60% in killed, and wounded.
"I was riding in front expecting a surprise, the left of the regiment was at the edge of the forest and the field, when the battery, about one hundred and fifty yards from the regiment, fired, enfilading it, sweeping the whole length of the line, killing a captain, a lieutenant and many privates. I was riding in front of the regiment; a grape shot passed through the head of my horse below the eyes." -
Colonel John Savage, 16th Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A.
Saturday, October 6, 2012 – Afternoon Scenario (To be enacted at 2:00pm)
The Fight for Webster’s Hill
This scenario is a continuation of the morning “Sunrise” scenario, but depicts events that happened after 4:00PM on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 8, 1862. Brigadier General Daniel Donelson’s Brigade had held its ground and was reinforced on its right by Brigadier General George Maney’s Brigade (See Sunday’s Scenario), behind by Brigadier General A.P. Stewart’s Brigade, and on the left by Brigadier General Sterling Alexander Martin (S.A.M.) Wood’s Brigade. The Union Brigades on both on the left and on the right, were forced back from their initial positions. Thus reinforced, Donelson’s and Wood’s brigades pushed hard against the center Union brigade commanded by Colonel George P. Webster. Webster’s Brigade was made up of raw recruits who had never seen combat before. The Confederates pressed their attack and drove the Union forces off the hill, killing Colonel Webster in the process. This battle scenario takes place on recently restored land and this is the first time this part of the battle of Perryville will be reenacted. One of the Union Regiments will be portraying the 80th Indiana Infantry. A number of descendants from the original 80th Indiana will be present to witness their ancestors’ part in the battle of Perryville be reenacted for the first time ever, on the 150th Anniversary.
"Ammunition had of necessity to be replenished from the boxes of the dead and wounded, having failed to be supplied from our train. [Two of my officers] were captured in an effort to get it up. The force on my left having retired I was ordered to a new position about two hundred yards in the rear. My men promptly formed and poured in a destructive fire on the advancing foe which materially assisted in checking them."
Colonel Lewis Brooks, 80th Indiana Infantry, U.S.A.
"Company B of the 33rd [Alabama] was at times partly in front or rear or right of the 32nd Mississippi, the pressing together causing some boys to use language they did not learn at church . . . our officers who were not wounded urged us forward, and we rushed their line which broke after one getting near the muzzle of their guns and Company B on the left of the regiment passed between some of their [cannon] and pushed on over the ridge and down the slope and across the second valley in pursuit of them and up another slope into some timber to where we met a line behind a fence."
- W.E. Mathews, 33rd Alabama Infantry, C.S.A.
Sunday, October 7, 2012 – Afternoon Scenario (To be enacted at 1:00pm)
The Fight for the Cornfield
This scenario will attempt to simulate the events that took place at approximately 3:00 PM on Wednesday, October 8th, 1862. While General Daniel Donelson’s brigade was moving forward into attack position, Brigadier General William R. Terrill’s Union Brigade was in the process of forming their line on the “Open Knob”. Maney’s Brigade, assisted by Wharton’s Cavalry, attacked with vigor, rolling over Terrill’s regiments as they arrived on the field piecemeal. Union Brigadier General James S. Jackson, the Commander of the 10th Division was killed on the open knob. The first Union position on the Open Knob was overrun and the Confederates moved up their artillery as their infantry line moved forward into the cornfield. Here, the Confederates met Colonel John Starkweather’s veteran brigade. Starkweather’s only new regiment, the 21st Wisconsin, was positioned in the cornfield when the Confederates attacked. They were quickly overwhelmed, losing all their field officers. The retreating Confederates were pressed across the Dixville Road and a Hand-to-hand fight erupted on the front slope in front of Starkweather’s cannon. The Union forces were driven from the hill, but regained it in a counter-attack. General Terrill was also killed on the reverse slope of “Starkweather Hill”. With the deaths of General Jackson, General Terrill, and Colonel Webster, the Union 10th Division lost all its commanders. This was the only time in the Civil War that this happened to a Division in a single battle.
The corn planted in the cornfield is an heirloom corn breed, developed in Wisconsin in 1847. This breed of corn, Wisconsin Red Dent, chosen and planted by the Friends of Perryville was done to honor the Wisconsin regiments involved in the Battle of Perryville.
"Bayonet thrusts and blows from the butts of our guns crashed on all sides. We would drive them back a few yards, then we would in turn be driven. The very leaden hail, like rain-drops, and as thick, was poured into our very faces, fairly hurling us back."
Sam Watkins, 1st Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A.
"I did not go far, however, before a musket or rifle ball struck me in my left leg just below the calf, breaking it, and passing clear through. I of course fell, and that finished my fighting. Shortly afterward, the rebels passed me by. One of them cut off my cartridge box and took it away from me. The shot and shell flew think over my head as I lay there, making it very unsafe."
Josiah Ayre, 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, U.S.A.
"The 79th [PA] and 24th [IL] were all enveloped in smoke; the 1st Wisconsin I could not see on account of the corn. I looked for the front. All at once I saw a rebel flag, that is, the upper part of it above the cornstalks and not far away either. I sat down on my right knee and said as loud as I could: 'Boys be ready! They are coming'! They got on their knees; some looked forward, some back at me. Instinctively I yelled: 'Why don't we fire?' I looked to the right, [the] Colonel was not there; I looked to the left, [the] Major was not there. I leveled my rifle at some butternut colored jacked which I saw among the stalks. Instantly the Company followed suit. The Rebs staggered a little and in their turn saluted."
John Henry Otto, 21st Wisconsin Infantry, U.S.A.
Monday, October 8, 2012 – We invite you to join us for a re-dedication of the Union and Confederate Monuments which will take place exactly on the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Perryville starting at 9:00am.