the Bluegrass


Last summer, I posted a series of old (but unfortunately, I don’t know how old) hand-drawn images of artillery harness. If you missed those, you can click back to see parts one, two, three, and four of that four-part series.

Today, I offer a few more photos from Perryville. Except for the one that is obviously a cannon, these show the Civil War-style artillery harness on the horses we met.

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While I prepare for my impending trip to Pennsylvania for Martin’s Auction (you’ll no doubt see more on that, later this week), I’m still stuck in “1862” here on the blog. Yes, I’m still working my way through our photos of the reenactment of the Battle of Perryville. If you haven’t visited here in a while, you can scroll back through last week’s posts to read / see more about our visit to Perryville.

Around 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, before that afternoon’s big battle reenactment, we watched a demonstration by the one horse-drawn artillery unit in attendance. Not quite a full unit, in reality, as they had only one cannon, but you get the idea. And that one horse-drawn cannon (and several stationary versions) still made a powerfull (booming, you might say) impression during the battles.

Before the cannon could be delivered to the center of the field, dropped off, and put through its paces, we had to wait for a unit of Confederate infantry to finish their drill and clear the field …

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… before all of us spectators could move higher up on the hill … you know, out of range, and all that.

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Next, we’ll look at the artillery harness. And then stay tuned for some explosions!

After our wander around the various camps at Perryville, we (and lots of other people) gathered in a field to watch the 11:00 a.m. horse-drawn artillery demonstration.

This was our first glimpse of the lone horse-drawn artillery unit at this year’s reenactment.

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And here’s another look at the same horses and the cannon.

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Over the next couple of days, look for more artillery photos and information. We had quite a nice, long visit with the members of this horse-drawn-artillery unit, and we learned a lot!

During our morning at Perryville, and after the 2 0’clock battle reenactment, we strolled through the “living history” camp. Here, people were cooking, quilting, playing music, sewing, and just hanging out and chatting with each other and with visitors.

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We had a nice chat with this man (below), who had four huge oxen and a replica Virginia Road Wagon that he’d built himself, by hand, using historic methods and materials …

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On Saturday, we arrived at Perryville around 9 a.m.: well after the sunrise skirmish, but in plenty of time to hike across the battlefield and wander around the various camps. The afternoon skirmish wouldn’t start until 2 p.m., so everyone basically had a free morning. Spectators toured the battlefield and its associated museum. Reenactors relaxed and chatted with each other. Both groups explored the era-appropriate shops. And several of the “military” units performed a variety of drills.

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I realize that you haven’t seen any horse-drawn vehicles yet, but don’t worry. In the late morning, we watched a fascinating (and loud!) demonstration of horse-drawn artillery, and that’s when the real fun started!

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Perryville, which was the largest Civil War battle fought in Kentucky.

This past Saturday, A.J. and I spent all day at the Perryville reenactment. In the afternoon, we watched one of three skirmishes (there was also one at 7:00 a.m., which was a bit early for us, and a third on Sunday) as it stretched across the battlefield’s rolling hillsides. With virtually nothing built up on or near it, Perryville is one of the most pristine Civil War battlefields in the entire country.

In addition to watching the reenactment, we wandered through the “living history village” and the various camps and had a nice long chat with the members of the only horse-drawn artillery unit in attendance. Needless to say, we took a lot of photos. So I hope you won’t mind looking back to “1862” with us all this week.

As a preview of this week’s posts, here a couple of A.J.’s photos from Saturday:

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James Flint appears to have spent several weeks in Lexington, during the winter of 1818.

On December 5, he wrote that “Lexington is still considered the capital of fashion in Kentucky. There are here many genteel families, a few of which keep coaches. The town, on a whole, exhibits a well-dressed population.”

On Christmas Eve, Mr. Flint was on his way again:

“Left Lexington. On this occasion I was the only passenger in the mail coach. Clear frosty weather allowed the sides of the carriage to be kept open, so that I enjoyed a view of the country. The expedition in traveling is great, considering the badness of the roads. The land that was beautifully verdant a short time ago, is now withered by the cold.”

On Christmas Day, 1818, he continued his account:

“The coach stopped at Washington, from seven o’clock, last night, till three this morning. It overset on my way hither, and though I received no injury, I resolved upon going no further with that vehicle in the dark, and over such bad roads. About five o’clock I was awakened by the firing of guns and pistols, in celebration of Christmas day. I heard no one speak of the nature of the event that they were commemorating. So universal was the mirth and conviviality of the people, that I could not procure a person to carry my portmanteau to Limestone. It remained for me to stop all day at Washington, or sling my baggage over my own shoulders. I preferred the latter alternative, and proceeded on my way.”

And so we leave James Flint, walking toward the Ohio River, to make his way back to the East Coast and home again.

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