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A More Perfect Union


The Battle of Gettysburg ended on July 3rd, 1863. On July 4th, 1863 the river city fortress of Vicksburg fell to Union General US Grant. The loss of both battles meant the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. Had Lee won at Gettysburg and Vicksburg held out longer it’s entirely possible that one of two things or both could have happened. The first is that France and England would have recognized the Confederacy as an independent nation. Among other things that could have meant the breaking of the Union blockade of Southern ports by the all powerful British Navy. (In 1863 the UK was the most powerful nation in the world and not necessary our pals.)

Confederate High Tide at Gettysburg

The second thing that is probable Lincoln would have lost the 1864 election in favor of Northern Democrats and Copperheads (a Copperhead opposed the war). If Lincoln was defeated it would have resulted in an independent Confederacy. The net result of an independent CSA would have meant a continuation of slavery-pure and simple. When news of the Union victories reached the North most realized it was the beginning of the end for the CSA although thousands more would die before the Confederates would surrender in the Spring of 1865. 

Note this quote from the preamble of Constitution of the USA:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Former President Barack OBama used the line, ” a more perfect Union” in a famous speech that spoke of race relations. The central idea of the preamble and presumably Obama’s speech was that the US keep striving for that more perfect Union. 

US History is full of warts and injustice but we have always striven to be that more perfect Union and fix what we can. There was a time when people of good will on both sides of the aisle recognized the common goal of striving for that more perfect Union. I truly fear that time has passed and that our country is in more trouble than it was in April of 1861. When one party refuses to condemn mob justice and violence and openly seeks socialistic Marxism we no longer have any kind of unity worthy of the name. It is not out of the question that a second Civil War is brewing and that would be tragic.

So what is the Christian to do? First we are mandated to pray for those in power no matter how distasteful that may be. After all, Paul’s instructions to do so involved the despot Nero. The question is how to pray for them. The most common answer to that question is that we are supposed to pray for wisdom. IMO, the wisdom to be prayed for is biblical wisdom that leads to practical application derived from the inalienable rights derived from our Creator.

The framers, for all their faults recognized this when formulating the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Therefore, it seems to me praying that those in power uphold the Constitution rather than treating it like silly putty would be the pathway to striving for that more perfect Union. That is my prayer.

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U. S. Grant and N. B. Forrest

One of the more disturbing aspects of the woke Cancel Culture is judging people (and history) of the past by contemporary woke social justice standards.

This is troubling because as Victor Davis Hansen puts it;

Once a cultural revolution gets going, there can be no contextualization of the past, no allowance for human frailty, no consideration of weighing evil vs. good.

https://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2020/06/18/how-cultural-revolutions-die–or-not-n2570836

This all relates to the war on historical statues and in particular to the statue of Union General U.S. Grant and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

This is noteworthy because Grant was the general who finally ended the Civil War and was instrumental in breaking the bonds of slavery. Forrest fought for the Confederacy. He was a slave owner and an early supporter of the KKK. Yet both have had their monuments torn down thus proving it’s not really about slavery, but rather a Marxist ideology that seeks to destroy everything about American history. It’s worth quoting Hansen again:

Once a cultural revolution gets going, there can be no contextualization of the past, no allowance for human frailty, no consideration of weighing evil vs. good.

https://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2020/06/18/how-cultural-revolutions-die–or-not-n2570836
U.S. Grant

I wish to deal with Hansen’s observations one at a time starting with contextualization.

The American Civil War has a historical context. The United States struggled to deal with the slavery issue since the country’s founding. The split between north and south was based on votes in congress. When a state was added would it be a free state or a slave state? In other words it was about power politics. When Lincoln, a Republican whose base was at least partially abolitionist was elected, South Carolina led the way to break away from the Union fearing the loss of power (and slavery). The Civil War was on. Slavery and the election of Abraham Lincoln were the catalysts that ignited the fire that would take the lives of over 600,000 soldiers, both north and south.

Nathan Bedford Forrest

Grant was not an abolitionist, although his father certainly was. Grant later married into a family that was a slave holding family from Missouri. He later freed his slave who was given to him by his wife’s family). During the Civil War Grant became a friend of what were called contrabands, blacks who took refuge within the Union armies as they invaded the south. Grant was also for the enlisting of African Americans in the Union Army remarking that in an initial engagement, even though under trained and ill equipped they performed heroically. As President, Grant did even more for African Americans, a fact he is rarely given credit for. Grant’s context changed over time and he evolved so-to-speak; yet his statue had to come down as if he invented slavery rather than being a major factor in destroying it.

Forrest on the other hand is remembered as a brilliant general of Confederate cavalry. W.T. Sherman referred to Forrest as “that devil Forrest” as a left-handed compliment because Forrest was a natural born soldier who gave Sherman a lot of grief.

Forrest was also slave owner and the first leader of the KKK. Few people know or care that Forrest changed, quitting the KKK and breaking with the racists that continued the movement-all southern Democrats I might add. For this, Forrest was scorned by southern racists for being soft on the recently emancipated blacks. After the Civil War Forrest’s context changed and he changed for the better with it.

This leads to the second observation of Hansen’s; that of human frailty.

The woke social justice mob are in fact arrogant, self-righteous bigots who judge others by a standard that they would never judge themselves. They are incapable of introspection and blinded by what they believe is the moral high ground; even though they are largely ignorant of history. Many have been indoctrinated by an education system that is Marxist and as good little Marxists feel free to judge others by standards they never apply to themselves.

This factors into Hansen’s observation about evil versus good.

The Cancel Culture believes it has the moral high ground and as Marxists they either are atheists or at least practical atheists who have no concern for the God of the Bible who sets moral standards with absolute authority. Without the higher authority of a sovereign God they are free to reconstruct morality in their own image. And so they have.

What can be done about this? I’m not certain since anyone that objects is shamed and called a racist. The Cancel Culture shuts down debate from their lofty perchs on what they believe is the moral high ground. The majority who love their country, warts and all, are thus far cowed into silence. Few Republican leaders seem willing to push back and push back hard. Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas seems to be the exception to what should be the rule.

The country is probably more divided than at any other time and that includes the nation just prior to the Civil War. The Civil War was a war of irreconcilable differences as north and south had two very different visions for the country. So it is now. I hope saner heads prevail, but I confess to not being optimistic. God help us.

I wish to give credit where credit is due although I am fairly well read regarding the American Civil War. Three sources came together to help me form my thoughts for this blog entry. I’ve cited Victor Davis Hansen as the first. The others are the History Channel’s recent three part series on Grant. I highly recommend it. The other is a column by Scott Morefield from Townhall. In the column Morefield documents why Forrest’s bust has not yet been removed from Tennessee’s capitol building (while his statues have come down elsewhere).

History is complicated. It’s important we do not ignore it or erase it.

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Edward “Butch” O’Hare

Did you ever wonder how the big airport in Chicago got its name?

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Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare, Feb. 1942

On Feb. 20, 1942, the flattop Lexington was steaming toward the Japanese base at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, when it was approached by two enemy flying boats. Their crews managed to signal its coordinates before American fighters flamed the planes, and the Japanese immediately launched an attack against Lexington.

That chance encounter had dire implications for the U.S., which couldn’t afford the loss of a single ship and certainly not a carrier.

American radar picked up two waves of Japanese aircraft. Mitsubishi G4M1 “Betty” bombers—good planes with experienced pilots.

Six American fighters led by legendary pilot Jimmy Thach intercepted one formation, breaking it up and downing most of the Bettys.

The second wave, however, approached from another direction almost unopposed.

Almost.

Two American fighters were close enough to intercept the second flight of eight bombers. The Navy pilots flew Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats, which like…

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Perryville, The Civil War Most Obscure Battle 2

Maney’s Brigade at Perryville

In September of 2019 my wife and I traveled to South Carolina to visit her sister. While there we took in some Civil War sites which included  Fort Sumter. On the way home we stopped in Kentucky to visit the largest Civil War battlefield in the state, Perryville.

I plan to discuss the visit to Perryville along with the excellent book that I purchased and then read about the battle on my other blog. The book is Kenneth W. Noe’s,  Perryville-The Grand Havoc of Battle. I also purchased from the visitor center at Perryville, Stuart W. Sandler’s, Maney’s Confederate Brigade at the Battle of Perryville.


Sandler’s book is a in-depth study of one Confederate brigade at the Battle of Perryville. It’s a Civil War nerd’s dream of detail and research crammed into 170 pages or so. It’s especially valuable to the war-gamer who wishes to focus on a single brigade’s contributions in a particular battle.

An excellent map from Civil War Trust showing the movements of the armies that ended up in mid-state Kentucky.

I tried to reproduce the effect of the terrain on my 4′ by 4′ game board. The rules we used were Rebels and Patriots. To reproduce the actions of a little more than a brigade on a side in a small space I had to fudge the scale while using the rules pretty much as is.

In this game a unit represented a regiment. As you can see from the OB all infantry units had either 18 figures or 12 figures. The rules feature units for 6 figure units but I didn’t include any. I also use two gun models for a battery for looks purposes, It does not have any effect on a gun’s profile meaning two models fire as one gun. It seemed to work fine.


I gave each side officers that improved discipline within 12″. I did not use the honor system in the rules.


Close order and first fire were eliminated from the game since the battle was well in progress by the time Maney’s brigade reached this point the action. Range was also restricted to 6″ for close 12″ for long. The artillery had a 24″ range. Part of the reason for this is the side of the game board but the other reason is the broken ground of North America.


Civil War re-enactors often do “impressions” of a real person. This is my impression of the role Maney’s Brigade played in the battle. It is not exact-only an impression and it was a lot of fun. Only the discipline modifiers were used from the unit profiles.

  • CSA OB
  • Maney’s Brigade
  • 41st GA, 18 models, Discipline=0,
  • 21st TN, 18 models, Discipline=+1,
  • 6th TN, 18 models, Discipline =+1,
  • 9th TN, 18 models, Discipline =+1,
  • 1st TN, 18 models, Discipline=+1
  • Turner’s Battery, Discipline=+1
  • Elements of Stewart’s adjacent brigade assigned to support Maney
  • 15th TN, 12 models, Discipline =0,
  • 38th TN, 12 models, Discipline=0


In my scenario the focus was on Maney’s brigade which faced elements from at least two Union brigades. The OB represents elements from those two brigades.

  • Union OB
  • 80th IL, 18 models, Discipline =-1,
  • 105th OH, 18 models, Discipline=-1,
  • 21st WI, 18 models, Discipline =-1
  • 123rd IL, 18 models, Discipline=0,
  • 79th PA, 18 models, Discipline =+1,
  • 1st WI, 12 models, Discipline =+1
  • Parson’s Battery, Discipline =+1, Stone’s Battery, Discipline =+1


Maney’s Brigade came very close to being the instrument that nearly rolled up an entire Union Corps. At this point in the battle some Union regiments were already tired and falling back. The discipline factor above reflects those units. Some Union regiments could not move until a certain turn was reached (activated). In another case Stone’s Battery would have to withdraw if certain Union regiments were routed. This was unknown to the Confederate player. The 15th and 38th TN from Stewart’s Brigade must align with Maney’s brigade and must attempt to pace them. In addition to that they could stray farther than 12″ from the board edge on which they placed. These fog of war rules for the scenario.

I used one of my colorful Zoauve units although no Union Zouaves were present.  The figures are Musket Miniatures. (painted as the 14th Brooklyn)
This unit is a combination of Irregular and Musket Miniatures. It could not activate until turn 3.
Airfix crews with Musket Miniatures guns.
Each unit had a unit ID as shown here.
This unit represented the 41st GA the only non Tennessee unit in Maney’s Brigade. It was a new unit to the brigade designed to bring the brigade up to strength. Most of these figures are 20mm Irregular Miniatures
Turner’s battery the background  giving cover fire to one go Maney’s TN Regiments. (Musket Miniatures for the infantry)
Turner’s Battery. The crewmen are from Irregular Miniatures (20mm) and the guns are again Musket Miniatures. They made a fine line of ACW artillery.
Turner’s Battery caisson with Airfix crew.
Bring up another gun!
Another one of Maney’s TN regiments. The figures are Musket Miniatures with an admixture of Revell poses. I like the standard with the Perryville battle honor!
Overview of the Union center and left flank at the start of the game. The units in the large field could not activate until turn 3.
The Union right flank.
The Confederate left flank and part of the center.
The Confederate right flank. The two units on the far left of the picture are represent the units from Stewart’s Brigade.
The 1st Wisconsin. The figures are from the excellent ACW Strelets sets.
The figures here are from the Strelets Confederates skirmishing set. Excellent figures! 
Division commander Cheatham giving Maney his orders.
I just enjoy these two vignettes.
Nice close up of Turner’s Battery
Rally boys, rally! The center figure is from the Strelets Union Staff set and the other two are Musket Minaitures.
A Union regiment consisting of Musket Miniatures. They were marketed as 22mm. It was an excellent and exhaustive line. The line was sold and the new owner has put them back on the market and then took them down repeating the process at least twice for some reason. I’ve only found some on eBay as of late.
Three os the TN regiments of Maney’s Brigade. Excuse the South Caroline flag. The figures are classic Airfix and part of my Hampton’s Legion impression.
Most of my infantry units for Rebels and Patriots have 18 figures. It’s easy enough to reduce them to 12 figures if needed. The rules are glorified skirmish rules built around “a company.” The authors suggest that scale does not matter much so call your units what you will and it will not affect game play. I admit I find this a little awkward but in this case it worked very well. 
An IMEX vignette-guns to the front!
Another Union Infantry Regiment-mostly Musket Miniatures with a few Irregular. My interest in 20mm (1/72nd) figures dates mack to my earliest days of wargaming when all we had were Airfix figures and Roco Minitanks.
Another pregame picture. I use the same figures for other sets of rules and a three model battery is a possibility in some sets.
The figures are mostly Irregular but there a few Waterloo figures as well. Irregular and Waterloo figures are close to 20mm and mix well.
The carpet squares represent farm fields. They had an affect on visibility. Having walked the actual battlefield it’s hard to minimize the effect of terrain. A rifled musket might be effective out to 300-400 yards but if you can’t see more than 100 yards in front of you it doesn’t matter much.
The Union position looked intimidating to the Confederate player and indeed it was since two Union batteries over looked portions of the battle field. The Confederate player did not realize that 1\2 of the Union infantry were already fragile and that if some routed at leas tone battery would limber up and move away.
One of my two Newline 20mm CSA regiments. Excellent figures, a bit chunkier than most 20mm but look great in their own units.
Stone’s Battery awaits the Confederate advance.
Portions of the 1st Wisconsin-my home state!
The two units represented portions of Stewart’s Brigade assigned to align with Maney. They had limited flexibility. As it turned out they both survived nicely and were critical is a very narrow Confederate victory.
Maney’s Brigade would carry the day but by a slender thread. The unit in the back is the 1st Tennessee of Company H fame. Atkins is quoted in the book.
Almost a ground level view of the beginning go the Confederate assault.
Here they come boys!
The Union Regiments in the field were exhausted already and had poor discipline to start the game.The 21st Wisconsin posted in the back of the field could not even see what was going on. By the time they could move the Confederates were on top of them and they routed just as their historical counterparts did.
The 123rd IL would virtually destroy the 41st GA with help of Parson’s Battery.
The 41st GA begins their advance.
Across a deadly field.
It looks bad here for the Rebs and it kind of was. However, the 1st WI is at 1\2 strength and would soon rout thus forcing the withdrawal of Stone’s battery. The Union left then collapsed saving the day for the south.
The Union right held firm but would have to withdraw best they could.
This is a pretty good aerial shot of the initial set up. The fields were all high grass or corn and did provide cover.
The view from the Union side.
2lb Napoleon stands guard today on one of hills at the Perryville State Park

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Home Front – Wartime Recipes (5)

This is one of my favorite blogs. It deals with WW2 mostly. During WW2 our parents and grandparents endured rationing so the troops would get first dibs on supplies. A lot of people planted what were called Victory Gardens. They turned yards and parks into gardens to grow veggies. It was a huge success. They also had to get creative with recipes. The gal mentioned in the blog has apparently compiled a book on wartime recipes. Here’s the link..

Pacific Paratrooper

 

Please thank Carolyn on her website for putting these delicious meals on-line! We often discuss the food our parents and grandparents dined on, despite rationing and wartime, they ate quite well – here are some of the recipes you might want to try out.

Now – you can even download her cookbook for free by clicking Right Here!!

Recipe 131: Kale and Bean Stew

Recipe 132: Pea and Potato Stew

Recipe 133: Baked Chips with Thyme

Recipe 134: Homity Pie

Recipe 135: Vegetable Au Gratin

Recipe 136: Kale and Potato Soup

Recipe 137: Trench Stew

Recipe 138: Irish Potato Pancakes

Recipe 139: Vegetable Soup

Recipe 140: Canadian Bake

Recipe 141: Savoury Meat Pie

Recipe 142: Potatoes in Curry Sauce

Recipe 143: Padded Pudding with Mock Cream + VIDEO RECIPE

Recipe 144: Bread…

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Psalm 91: Confidence for the Believer in Times of Trouble

Psalm 91 has a lot to say about the current virus crisis to the person who trusts in Christ alone. It also has a military history connection since it is sometimes called the Soldier’s Psalm.

My Take

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This morning I was reminded of Psalm 91 and how the Psalm functions in order to give hope and confidence to the believer in times of trouble.

As a certified biblical counselor I am always interested in helping people to counsel themselves by using the Bible and their knowledge of Scripture in general. Paul himself encourages the Roman Christians to counsel one another through the Word of God. He states:

14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 15:14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Toward that end of trying to help people counsel one another during this time of uncertainly, I will use nothing more than the study notes from the MacArthur Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible for my comments. The point…

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There are Things Worse Than a Virus

Historic Christianity from my other blog. It’s a good time to consider the claims of Christ.

My Take

The apostle Paul wrote:

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Co. 15:26, ESV)

Then, as now, mankind’s greatest fear is not a virus from Wuhan but the possibility of death that the virus represents. Viruses and diseases are scary especially when the recipient knows that treatments and vaccines either do not exist or are not necessarily all that effective.

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When we are sick we instinctively think in terms of cure and rely on the doctors and scientists to provide that cure and when they have little to offer at the moment we tend to panic.

Why? Because the specter of death looms large in our minds and death is to be feared above all else. A virus serves as a symbol of sorts that predicts possible doom.

Most people do not want to die. Most believe they have something to live for. The exceptions to that are…

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Christmas poems for our military (1)

Some military poetry from one of my favorite blogs

Pacific Paratrooper

Sailor Santa

“A Different Christmas Poem”

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And…

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Perryville, the Civil War’s Most Obscure Major Battle_1

On October 8, 1862, a hot and exceedingly dry day, Union and Confederate forces classed in the Chaplin Hills just west of Perryville, Kentucky, a small market town located southwest of Lexington in the commonwealth’s central bluegrass.

Perryville-This Grand Havoc of Battle by Kenneth W. Noe, pg xiii

So begins Noe’s exhaustive work on the Civil War’s most obscure major battle.

Part of the reason for the obscurity is the location of the battle. The battlefield is not near any major interstate or large city. The largest city is near-by Danville, KY with a population of just over 16,000 as of 2010.

Another reason for the relative obscurity is simply because other battlefields such as Shiloh, Vicksburg, Stones River and Chickmauga in the west and Gettysburg in the east have been written about exhaustively. Those battles have been thought of being of greater importance than a battle fought in the middle of nowhere Kentucky.

Yet, the Battle of Perryville can be and should probably be thought of as the Confederate high tide in the Western Theater of Operations.

The Confederates under Braxton Bragg and Kirby Smith invaded the border State of Kentucky (a slave state) in order to encourage secession in the hopes of recruiting thousands of Kentuckians to the cause.

Secession leaning Kentucky politicians and Rebel Kentucky generals already in the Confederate camp were adamant in assuring Bragg and Smith that should they invade and that many southern leaning Kentuckians would flock to the colors and “fight for Kentucky’s independence” from the Union.

No such thing happened. Most Kentuckians were against secession despite the fact Kentucky was a slave state. Recruits to the cause were few. Most that did enlist preferred service in the cavalry rather than the less glamorous infantry where they were needed the most.

Nevertheless, Bragg and Smith did invade and for a time the invasion did provide a panic for the Union. A major Confederate success in Kentucky would have meant Louisville falling to the Confederates and probably would have pulled Kentucky out of the Union. Bragg was so optimistic that he thought he could cross the Ohio River and take Cincinnati.

Although obscure, The Battle of Perryville was not a small affair especially for the soldiers on both sides who had to fight it. Sam Watkins, the author of the well known memoir, Company H served in the 1st Tennessee (CSA) in nearly every battle and skirmish in the Western Theater of the War.

Here is Noe’s quote on Watkin’s experience at Perryville:

The ubiquitous Confederate infantryman Sam Watkins remembered Perryville, where he fought hand-to-hand for control of a federal battery, as “this grand havoc of a battle” and swore that he had never experienced anything else like it. “I was in every battle, skirmish and march that was made by the First Tennessee regiment during the war,: he recorded in his memoir, “and I do not remember a harder contest and more evenly fought battle than that of Perryville…Both sides claimed victory—both whipped….Such obstinate fighting I never seen before or since.

(Perryville-This Grand Havoc of Battle by Kenneth W. Noe, pg xiv

In late September, 2019 my wife and I traveled to South Carolina to visit her sister and her husband. It was an opportunity for me to scratch my life long interests in the American Civil War.

On the way home which took us through Tennessee and Kentucky we decided to visit the Perryville Battlefield for a day. My wife is very gracious in indulging my hobbies and over the years she too has developed an interest in American History.

We visited the battlefield many years before-before the birth of out son; almost as newly weds back in the late 1970’s. Back then, it was an impulsive stop and it occurred simply because we were close enough to it after we had visited Shiloh, Chickamauga, Fort Donelson and other better known battlefields.

I remember driving for miles and miles on a single lane highway in mid-summer wondering if we would ever get there. When we arrived I was disappointed. The battlefield was small and the visitor center was nothing to brag about. I knew little about the battle and that contributed to the overall impression that is was a long ride for nothing.

Over the years in furthering my study of the Civil War I thought the battlefield would be worth a second look. My expectations were not as high as they were previously and I researched the site (what did we do before the INET!) prior to our trip.

Since the 1970’s the size of the battlefield has grown considerably through the efforts of the State of Kentucky and Battlefield Trust. Land has been purchased and new visitor center built that features a small bookstore as well as a battlefield museum which given it’s size is quite impressive.

The Visitor Center at Perryville. It’s not huge but it is very good and the staff is excellent. As I understand it there are plans to continue to expand the battlefield as money allows. Check out Battlefield Trust if you want to help.
Three flags over the battlefield at Perryville. The one in the middle is the Kentucky State Flag. Kentucky, like other border states had soldiers on both sides of the conflict but most Kentuckians fought for the Union.

The staff member (who could not show us around that day) spent a lot of time explaining the battle and guiding us in how to use the map. We spent the better part of the day hiking around the battlefield in the sequence the staff member suggested. Perryville Battlefield, Kentucky State Park

This gave me an excellent understanding of the battle in how it started, how it progressed and how it finally ended.

If you do not take the time to listen to the guide and then read all the plaques all you will see is rolling hills, tall grass, fences and a few cannon standing guard over ground where brave men bled and died.

The staff member, whose name I have forgotten, has our thanks for providing the framework for an immersive experience that both my wife and I enjoyed.

When we returned to the visitor center I purchased Perryville-This Grand Havoc of a Battle by Kenneth W. Noe. I’ve rarely read a more compelling and interesting account of a Civil War battle. I will probably write a review of the book as it will serve in a big source way for my planned series on the battle.

This is the Confederate Monument at Perryville. The soldier on the top stands guard over the Confederate mass grave. After the battle a man by the name of Henry (Squire) Bottom, owner of the land and southern sympathizer buried hundreds of Confederates because the Federals would not. Bottom attempted to identify the bodies but in the days before metal “dog tags” it was difficult, so most remain known only to God.
The inscription on the Confederate Monument at Perryville. At many Civil War sites efforts are being made to give more background and scope to the Civil War so that inscriptions like this one are better understood. We tend to judge events of long ago by contemporary standards and as a result remove the event from its historical context. Slavery was indeed the catalyst that ignited the Civil War but the roots go back to the founding of our nation. Most Confederate and most Union soldiers for that matter did not factor in slavery as to why they fought. In general, they fought for their states (homes) in the south and for their states in the north as part of a Union they saw as insoluble. All that to say, tearing down Confederate monuments is not a reasonable solution to anything. What is reasonable is giving context to momentous events that shaped our history and in the final result ended the horror of slavery at the cost of hundreds of thousands killed and maimed for life.
The Union Monument at Perryville. The Union monument was put up much later than the Confederate one. It does not stand over a mass grave either. After the battle Union soldiers did their best to bury their fallen comrades as soon as possible. Feral hogs and other animals feasted on the corpses until they sickened and died from consuming putrefying flesh. It was important to bury comrades quickly to prevent this. However, the burials were in haste and often shallow so as a preventative measure it didn’t help much. Months and even years after the battle the government moved the remains of the Union dead to a proper cemetery elsewhere in Kentucky. Today, only the bodies they missed remain.
This is the inscription on the Union Monument. It was an incredibly hard fought battle and both sides lost heavily. Tactically, the Union lost but it mattered little as the Confederates realizing they were out numbered withdrew during the night and next day.

On a side note, I do have a couple of personal connections to the battle, although both are indirect.

The first connection are the Wisconsin infantry regiments and artillery batteries that were present at the battle. McCook’s Corps of the Army of the Ohio fought the lion’s share of the battle and within that Corps three Wisconsin infantry regiments served. The veteran 1st and 10th Wisconsin and the brand-new 21st Wisconsin all fought with the 21st being particularly roughly handled. A blog post just on that is planned.

The 21st was recruited in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the time, Milwaukee was heavily German so many Germans served in many Union regiments recruited from the heavy German areas such as Milwaukee, St. Louis and Cincinnati.

My own family immigrated to the US from Germany in the 1870’s so I do not have a direct link that I can establish as a Civil War ancestor. Yet, I can find our family name among the rosters of other Wisconsin regiments. It simply serves me to understand that had I been born in Milwaukee 15-18 years prior to the Civil War I probably would have been in it! Such is the providence of God that I was not.

The second connection is also indirect.

My wife’s great-grandfather immigrated from Scotland to Kentucky in 1853 at the age of eighteen. He enlisted in the 3rd Kentucky Cavalry (Union) in 1861 and served about a year according to his records. He missed Perryville.

Brigadier General William Terrill from Kentucky recruited the 3rd Kentucky when the war began. Terrill would die at the battle.

My wife’s great-grandfather, James Robertson, would re-enlist; this time in the 42nd Wisconsin Infantry. As a veteran I’m sure he was eagerly accepted and I’m sure the $300.00 bounty Wisconsin was providing certainly provided the needed incentive.

The 42nd spent it’s service time in and around Cairo, IL where a huge Union supply base was located. Compared with the horrors of Perryville and other Civil War battles grandpa had pretty nice duty.

Grandpa settled in Wisconsin after the war marrying my wife’s great-grandma, Jessie. They had 13 children together. Grandpa lived until 1913.

Perryville was worth the out of the way trip for anyone interested in the Civil War. Take your time, use the guide and seek to understand. it’s worth it.

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Trip to Fort Sumter

In September we took a vacation to visit my wife’s sister in South Carolina. While there e took the opportunity to see some of the sites with her sister and her husband.

We went to Charleston for a few days and spent the better part of one touring Fort Sumter, the place the American Civil War started on April 12, 1861.

Visiting Sumter is something I’ve always wanted to do. The first thing I noticed is that the fort is a lot smaller than I imagined. Here’s the vital stats from Wikipedia:

Named after General Thomas SumterRevolutionary War hero, Fort Sumter was built after the War of 1812, as one of a series of fortifications on the southern U.S. coast to protect the harbors. Construction began in 1829,[3] and the structure was still unfinished in 1861, when the Civil War began. Seventy thousand tons of granite were transported from New England to build up a sand bar in the entrance to Charleston Harbor, which the site dominates. The fort was a five-sided brick structure, 170 to 190 feet (52 to 58 m) long, with walls five feet (1.5 m) thick, standing 50 feet (15.2 m) over the low tide mark. It was designed to house 650 men and 135 guns in three tiers of gun emplacements, although it was never filled near its full capacity.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Sumter

While smaller than I thought the fort was a significant fortification that guarded Charleston harbor. In 1861 was it was under gunned and undermanned. As the Confederates took control of the other Union installations around Sumter it became cut off from reinforcement and was forced to surrender.

When the Confederates took over they brought the fort up to snuff by installing 95 guns with a garrison that could man them.

The Union Navy and Marines were charged with maintaining a blockade around all southern ports. Often times, landing parties were tasked with various missions. At least one attempt was made by sailors and marines to seize Fort Sumter from the sea. It was a failure that resulted in many casualties. The little 12lb howitzer in the picture was a big reason why. There is not much a beach to land on at Sumster.

The harbor itself became a haven for blockade runners with quite a few making their way through the Union blockade. The Union Navy was not idle and mounted a siege of the fort for 20 months. A naval landing party of sailors and marines attempted a landing but were easily repulsed.

Confederate arillerymen manning fortifications.

The Confederate version of Fort Sumter never fell from the sea but rather in January, 1865 it fell, because General Sherman in his march to the sea took it from the landward side.

After the Civil War the fort remained in service until 1876. It was in disrepair until 1897 when the impending war with Spain caused the fort to be upgraded. A small army garrison occupied the fort during the WW1. During WW2 a couple of 90mm anti-aircraft guns were installed. In 1948 the fort was handed over to the National Park Service. Not a bad history for a fort that was built in 1829!

We chose to take the ferry that allowed you to disembark at the fort. You get about an hour to tour the fort. The staff, like at all National Parks were very helpful, taking the time to explain the details surrounding the initial Confederate bombardment and the subsequent Union siege of the fort.

Being the Civil War geek that I am, I was fascinated by the size of the 100lb Parrot guns. These guns were designed to sink ships! At the time this meant wooden ships since the Monitor and the Merrimac ironclads were still about a year away in their making.

The Monitor and the Merrimac were the world’s first Ironclads. At the time no navy in the world could match them. Doing the siege of Fort Sumter by the Union Navy many Union Monitors were used their armor being quite useful in fending off Confederate shot and shell.

The top tier of the fort was blown away during the siege by the Union Navy. On the lower tiers you can still still embedded ordnance as well as damage to the brick and mortar that was never repaired.

An insight museum gives further insight and instruction regarding the momentous events of 1861-65 in Charleston and around the fort.

My only regret was you only had an hour to tour the fort and the museum. There’s a great video and other information about planning your visit to Fort Sumter here.

Direct link to Video