Perryville Battlefield Living History Program
“On the Farm – 1862”
June 2-3, 2007
A living history weekend dedicated to the agricultural practices and domestic life of the Kentucky Civil War era civilian. “On the Farm – 1862” will be an educational experience for each participant as well as an interactive experience for the visiting public.
Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site is situated among the rural hills of south central Kentucky. Kentucky’s agricultural heritage still thrives in the community and many of the same families that lived in Perryville during the war still occupy their ancestral lands. The state historic site today is primarily located on what was the land of farmer H.P. Bottoms and John Dye. The battlefield was a farm long before it was a battlefield and after the battle it returned to being farmland. It is this unique history that we wish to interpret with “On the Farm – 1862.”
Perryville, Kentucky was a typical upper south farming community and most of its citizens were yeoman farmers. The community stood at the conflux of several main roadways that traversed the Central Kentucky countryside. Perryville contained several successful merchants and professionals that maintained offices and shops on what is today known as Merchant’s Row
During the summer of 1862 life on the farm was dominated by daily farming activities and complicated by a severe drought. However, the war was looming closer and political tensions in the area were reaching a boiling point. Perryville - like most small farming communities in Kentucky during the war - had divided feelings regarding the politics of the day. Kentucky’s divided loyalties were already creating havoc among her civilian population and with the persistent threat of military action the state’s citizens were in a constant sense of alert.
However, on the Bottom and Russell farms, both just outside of Perryville life was proceeding as normal in the summer of 1862. Crops were being tended and fences were being mended, but the conversation must certainly have been about the war and what would happen to Kentucky.
Newly widowed Mary Jane Gibson resided in a small log cabin on the H.P. Bottom farm. She had lost her husband and was left to raise 2 boys, Isom Creed Gibson and Ezra Gibson. Despite family hardships, tenant farming the land meant that crops still needed attention and all the farmstead’s operation must continue.
The citizens of Perryville and the surrounding countryside would be forever changed by the battle that ultimately decided Kentucky’s fate during the Civil War. However, during the summer of 1862 everyday life dictated that they care for their farms and businesses and wait for whatever was to come.
This event’s impression will be civilian only and semi-immersion. All participants are encouraged to do first person, but may develop a third person conversation with the visiting public. This will allow the visitor to better understand the scenarios. Further, those that are DOING demonstrations are encouraged to interact with the visiting public via third person. Interaction between guests and participants is highly recommended.
The core impression should incorporate specific individuals that were present in town as well as the occupants of the farms that would become the battlefield with an emphasis on the Mary Jane Gibson family and their farmstead. Please visit our website at www.perryvillereenactment.org and look at the section entitled “Owners of the Battlefield.”
Widow Gibson Farmstead
The Gibson farmstead would be caught in the middle of a desperate struggle during the fall of 1862. The Battle of Perryville would rage around the small cabin and its outbuildings. The occupants of the cabin cowered under the floorboards during the maelstrom.
The log barn on the Gibson farmstead would be caught in the middle of a desperate fight during the battle of Perryville. This barn is featured in the Harper’s 1862 Mosler’ lithograph.
“Descending the hill some forty or fifty yards, we were fired upon by the (33rd Ohio), not more than fifty or sixty yards distant, concealed behind a rail fence, which was a prolongation of the fence enclosing the field in which the battery was situated. There was a fence and a field on my right running up to two cabins at the line of the enemy’s forces. There were skirmish lines along this fence, which fired on our rear as we advanced. The Sixteenth had no protection except a few trees in the forest. I ordered a charge.”
Col. Savage, commanding 16th TN, Donelson’s brigade, Cheatham’s division.
The Widow Gibson Farmstead will eventually be fully recreated on the battlefield. One of our primary programs throughout 2007 will be to reconstruct the Widow Gibson log barn.
Opportunities to Participate
Civilian participants will be portraying local citizens during the early summer of 1862. The weekend will have several opportunities to participate in the agricultural and the domestic arts that were in common practice in Antebellum Kentucky. Rail fence construction, log barn construction, and planting will be some of the activities featured. The impression will require period tools - specifically axes, adzes, hatchets, shovels, hoes, etc. Horses and wagons are welcome and encouraged.
Participants that are portraying the townsfolk should be prepared to demonstrate or exhibit common domestic practices for the public. There are opportunities for individuals who can portray different members of the community with specific skills i.e. doctors, shopkeepers etc. Individuals that can do specific interpretations such as traveling peddlers, cobblers and other specialty impressions are welcome. Town ladies will be needed to help prepare the community meal.
With the political climate in Kentucky during 1862 tempers were ill at ease. There are opportunities for individuals with specific political interest. Appropriate period banter regarding Kentucky’s precarious position during the American Civil War is encouraged.
Participants wishing to give specific demonstrations or lectures regarding period agricultural or domestic practices are welcome. Please contact park staff in order to arrange a time and place for your particular demonstration, talk or activity.
*All camping will be in the Living History Area. This area will be interpreted as the pre-battle town of Perryville, Kentucky.
*Shelters may consist of period canvas tenting. Temporary wooden structures are permitted and encouraged. All structures must be in a manner consistent with mid-19th century building materials.
*No anachronistic items may be visible at any time during the program.
*Civilians must wear apparel, including head coverings, made by period pattern and construction techniques, of material like that available during the late 1850s and early 1860s.
*Cotton, wool, or blended cotton work dresses in checks, plaid stripes, or period prints with corded petticoats are acceptable. Absolutely no skirts with white blouses and/or jackets are allowed. Mismatched skirts and bodices are only appropriate for exceptionally poor or refugee impressions.
*Period correct ladies headgear including slat or quilted bonnets, and knitted hoods are encouraged. Please avoid “high fashion” bonnets.
*Collars and cuffs with dresses please.
*Absolutely no modern undergarments or modern clothing beneath period attire – please wear period correct undergarments.
*Modern stockings and shoes are not acceptable under any circumstances unless they are constructed in such a way as to pass for period shoes.
*Men should not appear in public without vest or coat. Sack or frock coats in appropriate materials are acceptable. Jean cloth, kersey, linsey, broadcloth, satinette material is suitable for men’s attire.
*Period correct men’s stiff brimmed hats or caps only.
*Neckwear should be appropriate to the period and worn in the correct way.
*Period appropriate children’s clothing only. No modern footwear.
*Children should not be dressed in military uniforms. Military influences can be reflected in children clothing, but miniaturized uniforms are prohibited.
*Hairstyles for women should have a center part without bangs. Modern hairstyles must be disguised with appropriate head covering. No “snoods.” Please no hairdressing in public.
*Men’s period correct hairstyles and facial hair only.
*Modern makeup and nail polish will not be allowed.
*Only period eyeglasses or contact lenses are allowed.
*No modern jewelry or pocket watches. Avoid “high fashion” jewelry.
Please remember to adjust your impression to the social status that you are attempting to portray.
*All participants (including children) must remain in period correct clothing during event.
*Infant necessities such as bottles and diapers must be kept from sight.
*No modern toys.
*Children must be attended at all times.
*No anachronistic items may be visible at any time during the event.
*All furnishings, cooking items, utensils, bedding, and food containers must be of appropriate period type, material and style.
*No military participants may camp in the authentic civilian camp. All military visitors should keep visits to a strict minimum.
*These items are strictly prohibited: cell phones, cigarettes, and electronic gadgets such as radios and CD players.
*Please keep cameras concealed during the event.
*The Camp Commander will be responsible for enforcing these standards and may at anytime ask participants to leave if they are not following the above written guidelines
Horse Health Requirements:
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 certificates within 30 days of the date of the event. In state horses will need a health certificate within 150 days of the event. 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 horse is deemed to be unhealthy, the participant’s animal will not be allowed access to the site. Please be prepared to present papers to park staff upon arrival.
Horse Standards & Safety:
*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.
*Do not tie horses to loose or unsecured items!
* Horses must be supervised and maintained at all times.
All harness and tack must be made from mid 19th century materials and constructed in a period correct manner.
*Reconstruction of Widow Gibson Log Barn
*Reconstructing the fences along Maney’s Ridge to return that landscape to its wartime appearance.
*Planting the large cornfields associated with Donelson’s attack.
*Preparing Saturday evening community meal.
*Cooking and demonstrating period domestic arts. Quilting party.
*Saturday Evening Social featuring the Allendale Melodeons.
Individuals should be prepared to engage in numerous domestic and agricultural activities throughout the weekend.
If you would like to attend, have any further questions or need assistance please contact Joni House (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Beverly Simpson (email@example.com). You may also visit the civilian discussion forum http://groups.yahoo.com/group/perryv...ianevents2007/
Registraiton information will be sent upon request.
We are looking forward to your participation at Perryville Battlefield. We hope to make your experience here educational as well as enjoyable. Please visit our website at www.perryvillereenactment.org for event standards and registration information.