Living History Participant Guidelines
Military Living History Participant Information and Guidelines
The following information will guide you through the impression, guidelines, and registration process for Perryville Battlefield’s Sesquicentennial Living History Programs. Please read the following information thoroughly as it will answer most of the questions you may have about participating as a military living history participant. If you have further questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 859-332-8631 to speak to the staff preservation coordinator.
Parsons’ Improvised Battery.
Because of the massive buildup of newly-recruited infantry regiments arriving in Louisville in September of 1862, there was a shortage of artillery batteries. Lieutenant Charles C. Parsons was detached from the 4th U.S. Regular Artillery and assigned to command a new artillery battery. This battery was the brainchild of recently-promoted Brigadier General William R. Terrill who was very recently a battery commander in the 5th U.S. Artillery. Upon assignment, Parsons was assigned five 12pdr Napoleon guns, two 12pdr field howitzers, and a Parrott rifle. He was also assigned a hundred horses, all the harness, 16 limbers, and 8 caissons; everything he needed, except there were no men.
In late September, 100 men of the newly-recruited 105th Ohio Infantry Regiment were detailed to the battery. Soon after, 24 men from Battery D and 20 men from Battery G of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery happened to be in Louisville when the rest of their Batteries, along with all their guns and equipments were captured at Munfordville. These men joined Parsons under the command of Lieutenant Nathaniel M. Newell of Battery D. These 44 men operated Parsons’ two 12pdr field howitzers on the left of the Battery.
Lieutenant Newell’s Section contained the only members of the battery who had ever seen a cannon up close before.
One of the interior sections was commanded by 2nd Lieutenant William H. Osborn of Company I, 105th Ohio.
The far right section of two Napoleons, was commanded by 1st Lieutenant Henry Harrison Cumings of Company D, 105th Ohio Infantry.
At Perryville Parsons’ Improvised battery was attached to 33rd Brigade W.R. Terrill, (KIA at Perryville), 10th Division, James S. Jackson, (KIA at Perryville), 1st Corps. A.M. McCook, Army of the Ohio where they engaged on the left flank of the Union line. They were heavily engaged and sustained numerous casualties.
“the men and officers being volunteers from the various regiments of the brigade, a large number, including Lieutenants Cumings and Osborne, from the [105th Ohio]. Parsons was a chevalier sanspeur et sans reproache.” -- A. Tourgee, 105th Ohio
Other impressions for US Artillery will be acceptable as long as it is from a battery that was at Perryville.
FULL SCALE ARTILLERY ONLY – NO EXCEPTIONS! Federal guns will be limited to 12 cannon.
Military Living History Participant Guidelines
The following guidelines were designed to insure the appropriate and typical impression of an artilleryman in William R. Terrill’s brigade of the Army of the Ohio in late 1862. The men who engaged at Perryville were typically young men from rural communities and in general they represented the typical western theater soldier of the American Civil War. It is in their honor that we request that your impression be based upon those typical soldiers instead of some unusual or non-typical individual.
Union Artillery Impression
Because of the large number of infantrymen in Parsons’ Battery, the specific impression of Parsons’ Improvised Battery is not a typical Union artillery battery.
In general, a Union artillery impression will represent an artillerist in Parsons’ Improvised Battery between October 1st and October 8th, 1862. Impressions of other soldiers associated with the Army of Ohio during that time can also be considered. Unless there is a specific interpretative purpose that is preplanned, impressions from earlier or later in the war, from some other theater of the war, or some sort of other soldier impression are inappropriate and will not be allowed. These guidelines are minimum standards; nothing less is acceptable. The use of any modern or inappropriate material (including cigarettes, modern eyeglasses and watches, modern food containers, plastic, soda cans, sleeping bags, coolers, etc.) by Living History personnel in view of the visitors will not be acceptable at any time (including “after hours”). Impressions are subject to inspection by park staff and their representatives at all times. All Kentucky state park rules and regulations must be followed.
These guidelines are organized in such a way as to suggest the most appropriate types of equipment and material for Living History use. An item ranked 1 would be expected to be more common and hence be better then an item ranked 3 as long as material and construction are also acceptable. As Living Historians, we must always be striving to improve our impression so as to better educate our visitors and honor the soldiers and civilians we strive to portray. These guidelines are based on continuing extensive research and documentation.
The Union Artillery at Perryville
The Union Army at Perryville generally consisted of a mixture of veteran troops and raw recruits in the brigades, with James S. Jackson’s Division being made up almost entirely raw troops. In general, one artillery battery, typically six guns, was attached to each brigade. The other divisions of the army typically had a ratio of four veteran regiments and one raw regiment. All of the artillery batteries, except for Parsons’ Improvised Battery, were veteran organizations, being in the service for over a year.
“At length the order came for the battery to go to the front. How we envied the eager comrades as they swung themselves into their saddles and dashed forward at a sharp trot! The sun was hot and the horses’ flanks were covered with sweat from the day’s march, but they were in fine fettle, and one did not wonder at the flush of pride on the gallant Parsons’ face as the guns filed past him and took their way along a narrow country road toward the left front. “ -- A. Tourgee, 105th Ohio
“Parsons’ Battery was noted in the National and the Confederate armies, and many stories are told of his courage and daring. At Perryville when his Battery was temporarily served by partially drilled infantry men, forty of his men were killed by a furious charge of the enemy and the rest driven back, but Parsons remained with his guns until he was dragged from them by a cavalryman, by order of General McCook.” -- A Military Record of Battery D, First Ohio Veteran Volunteers Light Artillery
“It is said, that the men of the battery deserted Lieutenant Parsons while he was trying to bring one of the guns to bear on the enemy. It may be true; but it must be remembered that those men had only had their horses two weeks and their guns only ten days. They had never fired a shotted gun, and hardly a hundred blank cartridges until that day. So fierce was the attack that there was only time to change direction of part of the guns, the others remaining as at first posted, trained to the northward. Yet they stood by their guns until they lost almost forty per cent of the whole number engaged. It will not do to asperse the manhood of such men.” -- A. Tourgee, 105th Ohio
The following guidelines are a minimum set of standards that each Federal participant in the 150th Battle of Perryville will be required to meet. The items that are listed under each heading are acceptable. If it is not listed then it is not acceptable.
Individual Reenactment organizations are encouraged to tailor their impressions to fit the particular batter they wish to portray. Abundant research is available upon the various units and we encourage participants to work with park staff to achieve their impression goals.
Material and Construction:
The enlisted men’s infantry frock coats were constructed from dark blue woolen cloth. The frock was generally constructed with a six piece body and 4 skirt panels. These coats appear to have light blue trim. There are numerous documented photos of men in Terrill’s and Starkweather’s Brigades wearing these coats.
Federal Issue sack coats (fatigue blouse) are constructed of wool flannel (lose woven fabric with a twill weave.) These coats were issued both lined and unlined. The lining consisted of a linen or cotton and wool mixture.
The artillery mounted service jacket was made from a dark blue wool material (wool broad-cloth or fine kersey). It was piped with “crimson” worsted wool tape denoting the branch. It generally was lined with coarse wool in green, brown or grey. The Schuylkill Arsenal jackets were entirely hand stitched with 12 small buttons. All jackets had hand stitched details and buttonholes.
Trousers were made of sky blue woolen material (kersey). They would have been totally hand sewn or machine sewn with a single chain stitch. All trousers would have hand worked details and hand sewn buttonholes.
“100 men have joined the artillery unit of the regiment which, together with other things, leaves not over 600 men in the regiment fit for duty. The regiment was full at starting and was considered to be as good or better than any other from Ohio.” -- Josiah Ayre, 105th Ohio.
1) infantry frock coats with appropriate blue wool tape
\2) fatigue blouses
3) artillery services jacket with appropriate red wool tape
1) Federal issue eagle
2) state buttons
Suspenders: Suspenders of civilian pattern, cotton webbing, canvas, or ticking with either button holes or leather tips with tin or brass buckles (no nickel plated metal).
1) sky blue
2) sky blue footman’s pattern
Military issue or civilian style in cotton or wool flannel if worn
1) Federal Issue – domet –flannel shirt
2) Civilian woven checks or strips, period prints –EXTREMELY LIMITED
1 Brogan pattern shoes
2 Short military boots – just above the ankle
Wool or cotton knit socks in white, a basic color, or natural color; hand knit are best
1) forage cap
2) period slouch hat (sewn on silk edge binding, fine wool or felt)
NO cowboy hat conversions or shapeless hillbilly hat blanks and no animal parts. Hat brass should be kept at a minimum.
1) foot pattern blue wool kersey, single breasted
2) mounted pattern sky blue kersey, double breasted
1) Union issue blanket
2) blanket made from period pattern wool
The amount of civilian blankets should be extremely minimal. The Federal Army as it marched toward Perryville discarded blankets all the way. The 24th Wisconsin Infantry left Louisville with red wool blankets, but tossed them into the ditch along the march. These blankets were quickly picked up by veteran infantrymen who then discarded their old Federal issue “ratty” blankets.
Eyewear and Glasses:
Spectacles (what we call glasses today) were not a common item amongst Civil War soldiers or even civilians of that era. Hence, try to get by without glasses if you can while doing Living History or wear contact lenses. If you must wear glasses, visit antique stores and purchase a 19th century pair and have the lenses replaced with one of your prescription, preferably with safety lenses. No modern glasses may be worn at anytime as part of a Living History program.
Individual items of civilian attire are acceptable as identified above. The presence, though, of a recent recruit in the ranks entirely in civilian attire would certainly be possible in recently recruited artillerymen. Most new men were uniformed in about a month after joining the unit, but in a period of active campaigning, some time could pass before the usual military clothing could be issued.
Not every soldier has to have every possible personal effect. However, having at least a few of these little items helps complete and enrich the impression. In choosing personal effects, remember that you will have to carry them. Combs, toothbrush, pocketknife, housewife, handkerchief (bandannas/railroad scarves are not acceptable; they should particularly not be worn as attire or adornment) vests, civilian or military pattern wallet, writing paper pen and ink, pencil, mirror, playing cards, various game pieces books or newspapers.
In addition to having the appropriate Living History equipment and material, it must be used and worn correctly. Pants and waist belts were worn at the real waist (i.e. the naval) and not at the hips; clothes were not form fitting. Hats and coats were worn whenever in public; pants were rarely tucked in the socks. By adopting the appropriate 19th century use and appearance, the Living History impression is remarkably improved.
Kentucky was enduring a major drought during the fall of 1862. Federals and Confederates both were on lengthy marches on incredibly dusty roads. They would be extremely dirty. Their uniforms were in various states of repair and the dust and dirt would be abundantly obvious on their person and clothing.
FULL SCALE ARTILLERY ONLY – NO EXCEPTIONS!
Artillery Pieces will only be full-scale guns of the type used at the Battle of Perryville. Mortars, volley guns, and Gatling guns are prohibited. Artillery pieces will be equipped with limbers. Guns served only with limber chests should be placed outside the direct view of and at a distance from the spectators, if possible. Artillery should function under the National Park Service rules for operation. The only exception is the interval between rounds, which may be increased to one round per minute from time of discharge to placing the next round in muzzle.
Artillery NCO Participants are permitted to carry one sidearm and a saber of the proper type.
Artillery Enlisted Participants will not carry any weapons unless they are acting as drivers. There are no side arms allowed on gun crews! For safety reasons, the full attention of all gun crewmembers should be on the cannon.
Cartridges must be made of aluminum foil, double wrapped, and contain only black powder. All unattended limbers must be locked! Loads may not exceed one-half pound for bore diameters up to 3.67 inches. Loads may not exceed one pound for bore diameters 4.65 inches or larger. Only friction primers may be used as the ignition device.
All ammunition must be kept in accurately reproduced cartridge boxes, packages, and crates. It will be stored in a safe manner away from open flames and other heat sources. All cartridges should be made prior to the event. Cartridge making and any other dangerous exposure to loose gunpowder are not allowed.
There is to be no discharging of cannon in camp. All discharging other than in the scripted battle shall take place on an established firing line after notifying and receiving approval through the Chain of Command.
No member of a cannon crew shall be allowed on his piece if he has been drinking alcoholic beverages during the 24 hours preceding the commencement of firing and/or he appears to be intoxicated. This will be grounds for immediate arrest. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed on park property.
The maximum rate of fire for any one cannon will not exceed one round per sixty seconds, from time of discharge to placing next cartridge into muzzle. Guns shall fire at least fifteen (15) rounds per battle scenario. Battery Commanders are responsible for controlling the rate of fire. No battery will be overrun unless scripted and planned in advance. If such an action is planned then batteries shall only be assaulted at a pre-arranged signal. The signal to opposing infantry or cavalry shall always be the furling of the battery guidon (flag) indicating all guns are clear and safe for assault.
While on the field the ammunition chest shall be placed at least 35 feet to the rear of the trail. All rounds shall be kept in ammunition chests, except for rounds being delivered to the pieces. The lid of a chest shall remain closed and the chest locked at all times except when rounds are being removed, during inspections, or while work is being performed inside the chest. No smoking around artillery chests. This is ground for immediate expulsion from the event.
150-foot minimum safe firing distance shall be maintained between the muzzle and any person, animal, or vehicle in its front at all times. At 150 feet, the crew shall load only “light cartridges.” A “light cartridge” is defined as no more than 3 oz of black powder per inch of bore with NO COMPRESSION FILLER. No cannon shall discharge or be loaded with person, animal, or vehicle within 100 feet of the muzzle. Be conservative. If “light cartridges” were not prepared beforehand, then firing will cease at the 150-foot minimum.
The Chief of Artillery in advance of the opening fire for the given scenario must approve any deviation from these Artillery Regulations. It is our intent to have a safe, enjoyable and historical event. The Chain of Command is in place to provide support. If you forget an implement, break a lanyard, are short a cannoneer, or have other deficiencies, please request assistance through your chain of command before the field inspections. We can probably help you meet the requirements that will be enforced.
Ordnance Inspection and Requirements
Only full-scale War Between the States Artillery field pieces will be allowed. No mortars allowed. Mountain Howitzers are allowed as they were documented at the battle; however, they must be used in an appropriate manner and be full scale reproductions of Civil War period Howitzers.
All reproduction artillery tubes will be equipped with a steel safety liner or sleeve. Original tubes will be inspected for serviceability on an individual basis. All carriages will be inspected for general condition and determined serviceable on an individual basis per inspection checklist.
Only friction primers or percussion primers shall be used to discharge the piece.
Blank artillery cartridges shall be made up of Black Powder only, not to exceed 4 oz. per inch of largest bore diameter. Cartridges must have a minimum of three wraps of heavy-duty aluminum foil and be packed to a firm consistency. Cartridges will be subject to random selection for inspection.
Only cannon grade, 1F, or 2Fg black powder will be used. Powder grades cannot be mixed. No artillery cartridges shall be constructed at the event site.
Artillery cartridges will be stored in the ammunition chests at all times. All rounds will be individually stored in a sealed cardboard container within the ammunition chest.
The bore of the cannon shall be thoroughly sponged with water and wormed after each cartridge is discharged. Wet / dry sponging is a matter of unit preference.
Each piece shall be equipped with the following implements in good working condition:
Two sponge/rammers shall fill the bore and be capable of sponging the bottom of the breech. The sponge for field howitzers shall fill the breech.
Worm - Shall be of a size capable of dislodging all foreign objects in the bore.
Thumb stall or glove for thumbing the vent.
Friction Primer Tube Pouch
Gimlet or Vent Punch
Two pairs leather gauntlets or gloves for Nos. 1 & 2
Model 1848 Ammunition Chest (period) – Limber recommended.
i. Capable of being locked
ii. No loose powder in chest
Failure of inspection - All pieces will remain off the field until the Chief of Artillery is satisfied and has given full inspection approval. It is the responsibility of the Chief of Piece, the gunner or the Battery Commander to notify the Chief of Artillery when the piece is ready for re-inspection.
1) Federal pattern--smooth side
2) other common period pattern
“Bullseye canteens are post Perryville and not appropriate for the impression.
Straps should be cotton, cotton webbing, or leather sewn together or with a buckle or button. As few as two-thirds or one-half of the men need to carry canteens
Gunner’s tools (All required):
Thumb stall or love for thumbing the vent.
Friction Primer Tube Pouch
Gimlet or Vent Punch
Two pairs leather gauntlets or gloves for Nos. 1 & 2
Gum blankets/ground cloth:
Any appropriate Federal issue gum blanket
Horse Drawn Artillery
Horse Drawn Artillery General Operation Rules
Horse-drawn artillery will operate no faster than a slow-trot, except when traveling up-hill at a cantor.
No appaloosas, paints, or pintos, unless they can visually pass for a breed commonly in use by the armies during that time period. No stallions or ponies. Do not tie horses to loose or unsecured items!
A current EIA Test (Coggins) is required for each animal within 1 year of the date of the event. Out of state horses will need a health certificate within 30 days of the date of the event. In state horses will need a health Health papers are required for transport within state lines. Current flu, rhino, tetanus vaccinations are highly recommended for each horse. If said paperwork is not in order, or if the veterinarian deems the animal to be unhealthy, the participant’s animal will not be allowed access to the site(s). A veterinarian will be on-site or on call for the entire event weekend.
Horses must be supervised and maintained at all times.
Horse Equipment for the Horse Drawn Guns – all horse drawn gun harness and equipment must be period correct in construction and material. Absolutely no chrome, bright steel, nylon or overly decorated harness is allowed. If you have a question about your harness please contact the park.
Horse Miscellaneous – Forage will be provided for all horses. Water troughs will be situated near all encampments. All horse trailers will have designated parking areas. Said parking areas will be patrolled by the Kentucky Department of Parks. Camping out of trailers will not be allowed.
Tentage and Camps
There is no documentation of soldiers either Confederate or Union camping with “canvas” at Perryville. Tents are documented to higher rankings officers only i.e. majors, colonels, and generals.
Tents are allowed at Perryville. If you are in the military camp you may have a Sibley, A–Frame or shebang. If you are camping in the mixed camp you may have any tent as long as they are period correct.
Recommended – Federal “rubber blankets” or “gum blankets”
Shelter halves do not appear in the Western Theater until the end of December 1862.
If tents must be used due to weather or life/safety conditions they must be only A-Frame style. Areas within the military camp will be set aside for this.
The military use of wall tents will only be allowed for specific historical interpretations such as commissary, hospitals etc. These impressions must be approved by park staff.
All military camps will be set up as if “on campaign.” No civilians are to be quartered in the military camps. Civilians who wish to interact with the military will require the permission of the military commanders and make appropriate arrangements with them. Only functioning and appropriate period civilian interaction with the military will be allowed: i.e. laundress, contract cook, and refugee. Civilians simply cooking for reenactment units are not considered a functioning or appropriate impression for the military camps.
There will be a civilian camp set aside for authentic civilian impressions. Mixed civilian and military groups will camp in the Reenactor Camp of Convenience (Mixed Camp.) This area is provided for the comfort and convenience of our reenactors who wish to do family camping. Although this camp will not be interpreted to the public, all participants will remain in period attire with no modern items in view of the public (including “after hours.”) It is the responsibility for all military participants who camp in the mixed camp to attend the required drill and be aware of the military schedule.
Each soldier should carry a period tin cup, knife, fork, spoon, and tin plate. More extensive cooking items such as period individual frying pans (even improvised ones from old canteens) are not necessary and should be very limited Cooking during the Kentucky Campaign was done in messes (four or five to fifteen men) sharing the cooking duties and using large cooking utensils such as kettles, camp kettles, frying pans, coffee pots, dutch ovens, large spoons and forks, butcher knives, mess pans, wooden water buckets, axes, etc. These large items were carried in the regimental baggage wagons which accompanied the troops except in the presence of the enemy. They were often packed in wooden boxes serving as mess chests. When the soldiers were issued rations (normally in three to five day increments), the baggage wagons with the cooking utensils were present except on rare occasions. In some units, the soldiers assigned to the wagon trains did the cooking and the rations were delivered cooked to the troops in the ranks. Tables, chairs, and stools were not provided for soldiers or even company officers and no transportation allowance was allotted to them. They should not be present in Living History camps.
A company desk for the company books, order books, and other papers will be allowed.
Military Structure and Responsibility- Participants will not portray officers above the rank of captain without specific appointment from the park appointed overall military commanders. Battery Commanders and Non-Commissioned Officers will be responsible for enforcing these standards within their chain of command. Chief of the Piece and /or the Gunner is responsible for the discipline of the detachment, safe operation of the piece, and carrying out of orders of the elected and appointed Chain of Command.
Minimum Age to Participate – To carry a weapon at the Battle of Perryville you must be at least 16 years old. No exceptions!
If these standards for participation are acceptable then you are welcome to register for the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Perryville.
Haver, Thomas T., Forty Eight Days, The 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Camp Cleveland, Ohio to Perryville, Kentucky.
OR, Vol. 52, Pt. 1, p. 51 – 53
OR. Vol. 16, Pt. 2, p. 746-747
Primary Resources provided by Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, Manuscript Collection.
Tobey, John E., The Columbia Rifles Compendium, 2nd Edition.
Time-Life Books Echoes of Glory: Arms and Equipment of The Union, Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy, 2 volumes (1991).
Special thanks to the staff at Chickamauga National Battlefield for their assistance in developing these impression guidelines.