A pivotal event in the American Civil War was the Battle of Perryville. Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site will once again host the annual reenactment of this largest battle of the Civil War in Kentucky.
Because both President Abraham Lincoln of the Union and Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy were native Kentuckians, neither leader wanted to provoke Kentucky into taking sides. By 1861 hopes of Kentucky remaining neutral had all but vanished as families across the state saw sons taking up arms. While the majority of the Kentuckians joined the Union Army, thousands joined the ranks of the Confederacy.
In 1862, the Confederacy planned to invade Kentucky with hopes that Kentuckians would join forces to drive out Union forces from their state. Meanwhile the Union Army strengthened their lines near Louisville to protect that city and the Ohio River. With troops from both sides amassing in central Kentucky, the battle was inevitable.
The Battle of Perryville, October 8 through 10, 1862, left more than 7,600 killed, wounded, or missing and marked the South’s last serious attempt to gain possession of Kentucky.
The Battle of Perryville reenactment is a two-day event that includes demonstrations of infantry, cavalry and artillery, along with authentic campsites and battleground tours. The highlight each day will be a military demonstration; 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission to the park for reenactment weekend is $10 for cars, $15 for passenger vans, and $25 for a bus. The museum at the park will also be open for more in depth history studies with an admission price for $3 per person (12 and older) and $2 for children 6-11. Guided battlefield tours are also available at $5 per person.
Some helpful suggestions for a visit to Perryville and the reenactment weekend:
- Patience – Plan on arriving early and staying late. Traffic will be congested both getting in and getting out of the park.
- Safety first – Please do not cross any roped off areas. Please exercise caution around weapons and horses.
- Big Battlefield! – Be prepared to walk; the park is over 650 acres. Wear good comfortable shoes and be prepared to deal with uneven surfaces, steep slopes, and horse leftovers.
- Rain or shine – Kentucky weather is unpredictable.
- Bring a seat – Bring folding camp chairs so that you may be comfortable during the re-enactment but please be prepared to keep and carry them with you the entire day.
- Ask questions – Feel free to interact with the re-enactors. They enjoy telling people about what they are portraying.
For more information about Perryville Battlefield and the commemoration weekend, visit http://www.perryvillebattlefield.org. Next year’s Perryville commemoration will be the 150th anniversary of the battle.
Perryville is located on US-150 between Springfield and Danville. The battlefield is just west and north of the town and is one of the most unaltered Civil War sites in the nation. Visitors walking the grounds see the same hills and valleys that soldiers saw in 1862. Perryville is only about 50 miles from Metro Louisville making it a very quick and easy trip to discover some Civil War history within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. For detailed directions, use Google Maps.
Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site
1825 Battlefield Road
Perryville, KY 40468-0296
Phone: (859) 332-8631