Welcome to The Perryville Civil War Battlefield Website


Commemoration 2017

U.S. Infantry Information and Guidelines

The following information will guide you through the impression standards and guidelines for Perryville Battlefield’s 2016 Reenactment.  Please read the following information thoroughly as it will answer most of the questions you may have about participating as a reenactor.  If you have further questions, email joan.house@ky.gov or call 859-332-8631 to speak to the staff preservation and program coordinator.

Military Living History Participant Guidelines
The following guidelines were designed as a typical impression of a private in the Army of the Ohio.  The men who engaged at Perryville were young men from rural communities and in general they represented the typical western infantrymen.  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. 

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.

Primary Impression
The following infantry regiments will be portrayed during the event weekend:
105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
21st Wisconsin Infantry
15th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry
3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry
42nd Indiana Infantry

A Word About Federal Uniforms

We know that veteran reenactors know this information, but we have a lot of requests for first time reenactors and they don’t necessarily know about appropriate uniforms.

Federal Uniforms Jackets in the Kentucky Campaign
This is a brief overview of Federal coats in the Kentucky Campaign. Although one can find other examples of jackets present in the campaign, the purpose of this is to illustrate the common soldier’s uniform in Kentucky during the fall of 1862. In Louisville, Buell’s Army had an abundance of issued items.  Accounts appear in diaries describing the abundance of clothing and how this was often a problem.

  • “All extra clothing which is issued we will have on a march. A knapsack filled with what is allowed a soldier weighs about thirty lbs or more.  Those undershirts which I took will have to be left or sent home if I can send them.  The army clothing is warm enough.  You need not send any stocking.  I have four pairs and can get all I want by picking up to last a life time.  You may send a pair of gloves to me if you can.  The mornings are cool and the days are quite hot.”
  •       Pvt. Bliss Morse
  •       105th OVI Co.
  •       September 1862
  • The enlisted men’s frock coat appears to be heavily issued during the campaign.  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. 
soldier small

Private Christian Wienman
         21st Wisconsin Infantry
           KIA Perryville, KY

State issue jackets are also found within the ranks of the men present at Perryville.  Private William Howard Co. K 105th Ohio was photographed in what seems to be a short jacket that might be an Ohio State Jacket.  His breast plate is the Ohio State Seal and his belt buckle is OVM.  It appears that regiments from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin were issued state coats and accouterments.  There are two images of Henry and Rueben Hunter of the 42nd Indiana Infantry made just before Perryville and both men are wearing short jackets with epaulets and stand up collars


Private William Howard
105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
KIA Perryville KY

Henry Hunter

Private Henry Hunter
 42nd Indiana Infantry
 KIA Perryville KY

Rueben Hunter

Private Rueben Hunter
42nd Indiana Infantry

Federal fatigue blouses are also an accepted impression.  Federal Issue sack coats 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.


Private Peter Lightle
 Co. D, 33rd Ohio Infantry
 Killed in Action

Private Peter Lightle was killed in action at Perryville, Kentucky.  He appears to be wearing a 4 button Federal issue fatigue blouse.

The following guidelines are a minimum set of standards. 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 regiment 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.

Special impressions of sharpshooters, naval impressions etc. are not appropriate for Perryville and therefore not allowed.

Enlisted men’s frock coat
State Issue Jackets (Ohio, Illinois, New York, Indiana)
Federal issue fatigue blouse

Federal issue eagle
State buttons

Federal issue sky blue
Federal issue dark blue
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).

Federal Issue – domet –flannel shirt
Civilian woven checks or strips, period prints –EXTREMELY LIMITED

Military issue or civilian style in cotton or wool flannel if worn

Forage cap
Slouch hat

Hats should have as appropriate the proper sweatband, lining, ribbon, and stitching. Trim and insignia should be limited.  No dead animal parts.

Brogan pattern shoes

    “We are not allowed to wear boots in our regiment.” Pvt. Bliss Morse

     “…after I got to camp I took off my boots and threw them away and got a pair of shoes… 

            Pvt Josiah Ayre
           105th OVI, Co. D
            September 1862

Wool or cotton knit socks in white, a basic color, or natural color; hand knit are best.
Military or civilian pattern boot

Eyewear and Glasses:
Spectacles (what we call glasses today) were not a common item amongst Civil War soldiers. 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.

Civilian attire:
Civilian attire should be extremely limited.  Some civilian attire would be present such as shirts and certainly under clothing as in any volunteer military organization, but the majority of all clothing and accouterments would be military issue as they seemed to be in abundance.

Personal effects:
Not every soldier has to have every possible personal possession. 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.

Soldiers would have combs, toothbrush, pocketknife, housewife, handkerchief (bandannas/railroad scarves are not acceptable), vests, civilian or military pattern wallet, writing paper pen and ink, pencil, mirror, playing cards, various game pieces books or newspapers.

During the Kentucky Campaign many of the Federal soldiers were not yet veterans.  Some regiments such as the 105th Ohio endured an ugly march from Lexington to Louisville, but had not yet been on any lengthy campaigns.  These men would still maintain a “fresh fish” veneer rather than the look of a veteran of numerous campaigns. Several regiments particularly in the 10th Division were completely new to military service.

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; haversack and canteen straps and cartridge box belts were adjusted so that those items did not slap the soldier on the back of the legs or buttocks on the march; haversacks carried food and individual mess equipment (including the tin cup if there was room) and not personal items; personal items were carried in pockets and knapsacks; 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 brand new, but the dust and dirt would be abundantly obvious on their person and clothing.

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.

     “…we have just received orders to be ready to march at any moment with two days rations in our knapsacks.  Our tents to be left behind all but three in a regiment.”

       Pvt. John Morse
       105th OVI Co.

Shelter halves do not appear in the Western Theater until the end of December 1862.

This does not mean you can’t have a tent.  You can have a tent.  We are just informing you of the historical information.

The use of any modern or inappropriate material (including cigarettes, modern eyeglasses and watches, modern food containers, plastic, soda cans, sleeping bags, coolers, etc. absolutely no Cell Phones are to be visible at any time) by Living History personnel in view of the visitors will not be acceptable at any time (including "after hours"). All Kentucky state park rules and regulations must be followed.

Recommended –Federal “rubber blankets” or “gum blankets”

If you use a tent we recommend an A-Frame of Sibley tent.

Military camps are for military participants only.  Civilians who wish to interact with the military will require the permission of the military commanders and make advanced arrangements with them.  Only appropriate period civilian interaction with the military will be allowed i.e. laundress, contract cook, and refugee. Per the military commander - civilian participants simply cooking for reenactment units are not considered a functioning impression.

There will be a civilian camp set aside for authentic civilian impressions.  Mixed civilian and military groups will camp in the 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 (includingafter hours.”) 

It is the responsibility for all military participants to attend the required drill and be aware of the military schedule.

Camp Equipage:
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.

All flags shown on the field must be pre-approved at least one month in advance by Park Management


M1855 or M1861 “Springfield” pattern .58 Caliber Rifle-Musket.
M1853, Type III, .577 (.58) Caliber Enfield 3-Band Rifle-Musket.

Side arms only for officers and cavalry impressions.

Cartridge box and cartridge box belt
M1855/61 box and tins
Enfield box and tins
M1842 box and tins

Cap box
M1845/50 pattern
Enfield style

Waist belt and waist belt plate
State Buckles

Waist belt should be of appropriate Federal Issue and appropriate to the buckle.

Bayonet and Scabbard
Appropriate for the weapon and bayonet being carried.

No knapsack

    “We only took our blankets with us in the clothing line leaving our knapsacks in our tents a guard left of those who were not able to march…”

      Pvt. Josiah Ayres
      105th OVI Co. E

  • Double bag pattern

Other common period patterns
Numerous primary resources site that knapsacks were dropped by many Union regiments before entering battle.  It would be reasonable to see several soldiers without knapsacks. An accurate impression would be to leave knapsacks in camp under guard before assembling for the battle.

Federal pattern--smooth side
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

Appropriate Black Federal pattern

Union issue blanket
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 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.

Gum blankets/ground cloth:
Any appropriate Federal issue gum blanket

Noncommissioned officers:
Noncommissioned officers were important to the functioning of the line of battle in combat. The ratio of sergeants to privates was about one to seven or eight and the ratio for corporals was about one to nine. Living History companies should manifest about the same ratio. Noncommissioned officers should be equipped the same as privates. Chevrons are not necessary and their use should be limited. Noncommissioned officers should know the drill and duties expected of them.

The general ratio of commissioned officers to noncommissioned officers and enlisted men in the campaign averaged one to ten. Companies typically had three, sometimes two, of their four authorized officers. Therefore, if there are ten or more soldiers, it would be appropriate to have an officer represented, probably a second lieutenant. With twenty or more soldiers, there should be one or two officers, a first or second lieutenant. Thirty to forty soldiers should have a captain and two lieutenants.

Command Structure and Company/Battalion Size
Park staff will designate an overall command structure who will portray field grade officers. Other field grade officers will be acceptable if the minimum amount of participants is reached to constitute a battalion.

The average size of a Union infantry regiment at Perryville was 559 men each.   The smallest was the 44th Illinois Infantry with 290 men.   The largest Union regiment was the 24th Wisconsin Infantry with 1,024 men. Thus, companies should have a Captain and 1 or 2 Lieutenants. 

In order to adequately represent the Union Army in the field – organizations portraying a company must contain a minimum of 20 men.  Battalions must consist of at least 3 companies.

Individuals and unattached messes are welcome and invited to participate.  We will work with you to find you an appropriate regiment/battalion.

Confederate to Federal ratios will be 5 C.S. to 3 U.S. men.  This means that for every 5 Confederate participants there must be 3 Federal participants.  Registration for C.S. participants will be capped at 500 until Federal registration reaches 300.  At that time we will allow participants to register as long as the 5 to 3 ratio is maintained.

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 2016 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.



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