Perryville Revising the Battle of Perryville - calling all researchers!!

Joined
May 18, 2005
Location
Spring Hill, Tennessee
Okay, I have some homework for those of you interested in the Battle of Perryville. For over ten years I have believed that current interpretations of the battle were wrong, and wrote a book about my hypothesis around 2011. That book detailed the experiences of the Sixteenth Tennessee and tried to relate that what historians said happened with Donelson's brigade were very wrong, but I couldn't prove it, as a mysterious home structure that I supposed existed - wasn't documented. By 2015, I had actually found evidence of the dwelling and its owners. Now I have worked hard with the Perryville battlefield to prove that Noe's book and Hafendorfer's are wrong.

I am at whit's end trying to see this changed. For those of you who are knowledgeable or not of the battle, please read this outline that is intended to be submitted to the Kentucky Historical Society. This concise outline lays out in black and white the improbability of current interpretations and - I believe - proves beyond doubt, that the battlefield is incorrectly interpreted. Please read!

Situation:

While the strategic importance and conclusions of the battlefield remain the same, the tactical interpretation of the battlefield at Perryville has been erroneous since the first book length work on the battle. Both historians Haffendorfer and Noe—with a long list of authors that subsequently wrote shorter summaries of the battle—have incorrectly related the battle due to lack of knowledge in several regards.

With a limited number of source materials available, these histories have used a small variety of well-known Rebel accounts to document the Confederate attack of Cheatham’s Rebel Division against the Federal left flank. While some of these accounts have been taken too literally—other accounts have been cherry picked so that a discernable vision of the battle may be had. This vision—or interpretation of the battle—can now be discredited due to the discovery of a large body of evidence that literally alters the events as they are currently related on over one-half of the battlefield.

While the majority of Federal unit locations are left undisturbed, a large number of the Confederate commands that participated in this battle are shown to have experienced far different scenarios than what has been described by current histories. Some units that have been placed—by these histories—on certain portions of the battlefield are now moved as far as a half mile from where they are erroneously portrayed.

Numerous previously unknown accounts and a handful of known—but cherry-picked—accounts reveal a very different story for the Confederates at Perryville. Much of this—it will be seen—is due to the failure to recognize a long-lost homesite that occupied the southeastern slopes of Open Knob upon which General Terrill and Parsons’ battery were decimated.

Mission:

To clarify the evolution of the battle and accurately portray the movements and engagements of Confederate and Federal commands on the battlefield to better comprehend the staggering losses that the opposing forces sustained, as well as the conduct of battle in order to understand how and why the Federal left was crushed so early in the fight.

The intent of this work is to impress the importance of understanding the battlefield and why the evolution of the battle is important in understanding the tactical success or failure of either party as well as identify the location of a heretofore over-looked homesite on the battlefield that is pivotal in comprehending the field.

Execution:

A plethora of evidence is herewith provided to support the authenticity of this new interpretation of the battlefield including the 1862 surveys of the battlefield, family relations, census information, previously disregarded accounts by commanders, previously unknown accounts by private soldiers and commanders, as well as previously “used” accounts. The “used” accounts will be examined in their entirety in order to show what has been left out or disregarded by modern historians who wrote these histories. They simply could not make sense of some of these accounts without leaving much of this information out.

1. Establishing the Hafley Homesite.

A.
The Ruger/Kilp Maps: The map that was drawn by order of Federal General Buell was created by Captain Edward Ruger and Lieutenant Anton Kilp. Ruger was Chief of the Topographical Engineers and had originally served in the 13th​ Wisconsin Infantry. Kilp served in the 1st​ Regiment Engineers, Missouri Volunteers. Ruger and Kilp took surveys of the surrounding countryside in the days following the battle and compiled their data. This original map was eventually used to create several different versions. To prevent crowding, many of the home-sites that were on their originally compiled map were left out of the version that was later submitted and published by the War Department. The version that appears in the Atlas of the Official Records lacks the details that an 1877 version of the same map included. The description of the 1877 Ruger and Kilp map in the Library of Congress indicates exactly what is original to the map:

“Authorities: surveys by Edward Ruger and Anton Kilp [and] official reports of officers of both armies.” Map gives “position of General Gilbert's corps on the evening of October 7th​” and the positions of both the Union and Confederate troops “on the 8th before being brought into action,” “while engaged,” and “after dark on the evening of the 8th.” “Roads, the railroad from Lebanon to Stanford, drainage, vegetation, relief by hachures, houses, and the names of residents are also represented.”[1]

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(Figure 1) This was the “base” map for all other maps that were made following the battle. It included all the above information including roads, relief, drainage, but most importantly “names of residents.” This information was strictly from the 1862 survey taken by Ruger and Kilp. In 1860, Edward Ruger was living in Rock, Rock County, Wisconsin with his parents and was twenty-five years old working as a surveyor. He and his brother—William, an attorney—enlisted in the 13th​ Wisconsin at Janesville, Wisconsin in Rock County in October 1861. Edward was elected Captain of Company A and shortly thereafter detailed to the Engineers on the General’s staff. He was mustered out of the army on November 18, 1864 at the expiration of his term. He is also found living in the same town (Rock, Wisconsin) with his wife in the 1870 census—no longer affiliated with the military, but working as a surveyor.

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(Figure 2) This enlarged portion of the same map legibly displays the name “Hayflay.” North is oriented to the left of this map. It also shows “Jackson’s” position and where he fell on the field which is unquestionably known to be Open Knob bordered on the east by New Mackville Pike, south by the Confederate Graveyard, and west by Benton Road and Starkweather’s Heights. Every name on the Ruger/Kilp map is identifiable in the 1860 Boyle County census. Another map, without troops dispositions and based on their original survey from October 1862 is in a French Atlas on the Civil War.

The following map is a portion of the plate from Histoire de la Guerre Civile en Amerique. This unique map is probably the closest to the original Ruger and Kilp survey that would have only included the aspects of terrain and home-sites from 1862. This map includes every name from the rural vicinity of Perryville that Kilp was able to determine. It does include the Hafley cabin-site as well as a star that represents the location at which General Jackson fell. The cemetery was not indicated on this map. The publication of this work was done in 1873—making it the earliest known map of the Perryville battlefield. This map does not contain any troop dispositions, as they were later added to remakes of the original after reviewing the Official Records. The map was copied and hand-drawn by Ed. Dumas Vorzet. The publication of this particular atlas was completed in 1883.[2]

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(Figure 3) Note the name “Hayflay” in the middle center of the map. This is the location of “Open Knob” which is identified with hill “relief hachures” above the letter H in “Hayflay.” All of the other sites on the map are recognized as 1862 homesites including Widow Gibson, Russell, Bottom, Kirkland, Walker, Chatham and Wilkinson. These two maps have never been considered in relation to the progression of the battle. These two maps clearly indicate that there was in fact a homesite occupied by a family at the time of the battle.

B. Joseph C. Hafley, his wife, and three children lived in the “Hayflay” cabins in October 1862. From census information, all of this has been established on Ancestry.com. Joseph was the son of Henry Hafley of neighboring Washington County, Kentucky. Joseph was born in 1831 in Lincoln County. At some point, he moved to Boyle County as a young adult, and by late 1852 or early 1853, he had begun the courtship of a young lady ancestrally tied to the land that the battle would take place on. On March 27, 1853, twenty-three-year-old Joseph married twenty-one-year-old Francis A. Bottom. Francis was the daughter of Thomas Bottom and Sara Russell. Sara Russell’s brother—John C. Russell—was the owner of what would become the famous “Russell House” landmark on the Perryville battlefield. Frances’ father—Thomas Bottom—was the son of William S. Bottom and first cousin of Henry P. “Squire” Bottom. “Squire” Bottom’s house and barn also became important landmarks on the battlefield. As well as being a subsistence farmer, Joseph Hafley worked as a hired hand for his uncle-in-law—“Squire” Bottom—from 1858 until the time of the battle. Joseph is listed as a witness in H. P. Bottom’s War Claims in the years following the war, in which it is admitted he lived and worked as a hired hand maintaining a ten-acre cornfield. Together, Joseph and Frances had three children by the time the census was taken in June of 1860. George, Thomas and Merit—all boys—were aged eight, six and three years old at the time of the battle.

Joseph and Francis Hafley’s net worth for their personal belongings was only $300 in 1860. With their feet not yet off the ground, the couple was offered the opportunity to live as tenants on property owned by Henry P. Bottom—this property may have actually belonged to his mother Mary Bottom who was now widowed and occupied the Widow Bottom House along Doctor’s Fork. Both Thomas Bottom’s family and his wife Sara’s (Russell) side of the family probably owned nearly half of the ground that the hardest contested parts of the battle were fought on. The Hafley cabins were .86 miles or 1,508 yards (as the crow flies) from Henry “Squire” Bottom’s front steps. It was also just less than 900 yards north-northwest of Widow Bottom’s House—or about a half-mile. The Hafley home site consisted of two cabins located on the eastern slope of the Open Knob—land that would later be occupied by Parsons’ Independent Federal battery and the brigade of Federal Brigadier General William Terrill. The structures were apparently rough-hewn log cabins. One structure acted as their home and the other was probably a stable or barn. Now the cornfield hiding the Twenty-first Wisconsin finally has a name.

C. Major General Frank Cheatham’s report of the battle: First, it appears that very few have ever seen the report in its entirety, or recognized the significance of it. Secondly, taken as a whole, it’s clear that Cheatham’s report reflects a different chronology than the one presented by current historians of the battle. Third, it is also helpful in identifying the newly discovered Hafley home-site. Frank Cheatham’s report was written on November 19, 1862 while at Tullahoma, Tennessee. This report was only cited—but not used—in Hafendorfer’s book and has not been cited in any other book about Perryville to this date. Unfortunately, the guts of the report fail to be utilized in that work. The following lines are only picked to show Cheatham’s reference to what can only be considered to be the Hafley Cabins—as no other homesites were at—or in front of—the main Federal line. The Widow Gibson Cabins were over three-hundred yards behind the main Federal lines. Only the most notable sentences are used in this synopsis.

Gen. Donelson’s Brigade moving steadily and rapidly forward was soon engaged under a heavy fire from the Artillery and infantry lines of the Enemy, who were discovered posted under protection of a skirt of woods and also protected by a fence and some buildings, without hesitating for a moment, although under a most terrible fire of grape, canister and musketry, and having a command of three Regiments only in hand—this gallant leader gave the order to charge, the order was repeated rapidly along the line, and with a cheer which rang through all the surrounding woods, these brave men rushed forward with a determination and impetuosity which not even superior numbers or advantage of position could resist, the Enemy was driven back into the woods, leaving his former lines thickly strewed with dead and wounded.”

D. Brigadier General Daniel Donelson’s report of the battle: Donelson’s report was also cited in the two primary works on Perryville, but merely a portion of one sentence was used. Donelson was clear when he related the same scene that Cheatham witnessed. Donelson clearly explained the scene at the opening moments of the battle that faced his advancing brigade.

“The Enemy was near a small farm House and Cornfield from which point they opened fire upon the 16th​ Tenn Regt and upon the other two Regts as they came into line on the left. The fight here was obstinate and warmly contested. … The charge was made at a House and small cornfield some 100 yards from the Enemy’s Battery.”

E. Colonel John H. Savage’s report of the battle: Savage’s report from his autobiography has been used time and again in the current primary histories of the battle. Without knowledge of the Hafley homesite it makes perfect sense that historians believed Savage had to have been referring to Widow Gibson’s homesite. But, coupled with the above unused quotes, it is clear the cabins the Sixteenth Tennessee were attacking were at the initial main line of the Federal army and supported by a large battery of artillery within less than 100 yards of the cabins. This is unquestionably the Hafley cabins, Terrill’s brigade and Parsons’ battery.

“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. We drove the enemy from behind the fences, killing many of them as they fled. The right of the regiment was at the two cabins. There was a battery in the line of battle to the right, about thirty or forty yards from these cabins, between which cabins there was an entry, or space, of ten or fifteen feet. The battery opened fire upon us, killing many men, and at the same time a fire of small arms from the line of battle was directed upon these cabins.

F. Private Carroll Henderson Clark, Company I, 16th​ Tennessee memoirs: Clark mentions the Hafley cabins as well.

“The enemy finally retreated & we followed on. They loaded as they fell back but would whirl & shoot back. As we passed the little cabin on the hill I was seriously wounded through my right side above my hip. We then had them on the run.”

G. Private James R. Thompson, Company A, 16th​ Tennessee memoirs: Thompson also mentions the cabins and the regiment’s proximity to them and a battery of artillery. The following took place at the Hafley cabin site where Savage was wounded.

“There was a battery just to our right side. When the flanking party was driven back, I thought it should be silenced or captured. There were two little log cabins just behind the enemy line that we had captured and a fence running about north and south.”

H. Private Thomas Head’s history of the Sixteenth Tennessee: Head wrote the history of the Sixteenth Tennessee and added more evidence to support what the regiment faced in the opening minutes of the fight.

“… a heavy force was now massed in front and on the right of the 16th​ Tennessee regiment. The enemy now bent his lines around the right flank of the 16th​ Tennessee, near an old log hut, and poured into its ranks an enfilading fire of artillery and musketry.”

“The enemy bending his line around the right flank of the Sixteenth Tennessee Regiment near an old log cabin, an enfilading fire of musketry and artillery was poured into its ranks…”

I. Unknown Federal soldier’s newspaper account: This account was published in several papers in October 1895. He was a member of Carlin’s Federal brigade and decided to walk the field the day after the battle. He eventually wandered as far as Open Knob. He too indicates at least one structure that fell under his observation on the Knob. This is the only known account of a Federal soldier that mentions a structure on Open Knob. Clearly, he was able to take more in—as bullets weren’t flying at him. It is fact that Parsons’ guns and carriages—that could not be taken away—were chopped down by members of Turner’s Confederate battery.

“… the further I got to the left the more dead I saw. In one place it looked like I could walk the length of a regiment on dead bodies. I came to an orchard, where a battery had been literally demolished, and men and horses lay about thick. It was in an orchard, near a stable. The guns were all lying on the ground and the wheels all chopped down. I learned that it was Parson’s eight-gun battery, presented to him by the ladies of Cincinnati, and that the confederates, who had captured it, being unable to take it off when they retreated, for want of battery horses, chopped it down with axes.”


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(Figure 4) Note the black line that traces the north-south fence line that was the location of the main Federal line. From east of the Hafley cabins, Cheatham observed the enemy protected by “a fence and some buildings.”

On the 1877 Ruger/Kilp map below, note the locations of the homesites and their relation to the initial main Federal line noted with diagonal blue hashes in the center of the map. This line did not have a gap as suggested by previous histories of the battle although slight alterations had to be made to accommodate the Federal troops in the valley.

Compare this map with the example above. These maps substanciate Cheatham’s admission that, “…the Enemy, who were discovered posted under protection of a skirt of woods and also protected by a fence and some buildings…

Hafley, Widow Gibson and Widow Bottom homesites are highlighted in yellow. Clearly, the Widow Gibson site is located far behind the initial Federal lines.

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(Figure 5)

2. Establishing the location of Donelson’s Brigade and the 16th​ Tennessee: Current histories indicate that Donelson’s brigade attacked up the long valley containing the creek that the park refers to as “Donelson’s Run.” In that advance they attack and push back the Thirty-third and Second Ohio regiments single-handedly and engage the Federal troops at the “Gibson corn-crib.” The following evidence will discredit that theory and provide proof that the right of Donelson’s brigade (the Sixteenth Tennessee) attacked the initial Federal line at the Hafley Cabins within less than one hundred yards of Parsons’ battery on Open Knob. This map provides—in essence—the current bogus theory presently accepted as fact. The Sixteenth Tennessee—numbering 370 effective troops—had to fight through 860 men of the Thirty-third and Second Ohio, and then between the fire of the Twenty-fourth Illinois (383 troops), and the Tenth Wisconsin numbering another 376 effectives. The current bogus interpretation suggests that this unit single handedly fought approximately 1,619 Federal troops—not counting the support of the Ninety-eighth Ohio (another 678 men) within range of the Gibson corn crib.

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(Figure 6) As noted in the image above, the corn-crib was over two-hundred yards in rear of the main Federal line. The current histories also relate that after making this deep penetration in the Federal lines, they withdraw to “almost their starting point.” It is only hours later that they advance and seize Harris’ battery according the current histories. In addition to the above illustration showing disparity of numbers, the following primary participant evidence is crucial in understanding the true position of Donelson’s brigade. The close association between the right of Donelson’s brigade and the left of Maney’s brigade in their unified charge to take Parsons’ battery on Open Knob will become clearly evident in the following accounts.

A. Major General Frank Cheatham, commanding Right Wing, report of the battle: Cheatham’s report is vital in understanding the relationship between the brigades that he commanded. None of his report has been quoted in any books on Perryville. His reference to a “battery of eight guns” is Parsons’ battery atop Open Knob.

“… Maney with his Brigade, which had been moved across the creek to my right, came forward in the woods from which the Enemy’s skirmishers had been driven a few moments previously by a furious and gallant charge of Col. Wharton’s Cavalry, and under shelter of a slight ridge, commenced forming his command for action, in two lines, three Regt.s in his front line, and two in his rear as a reserve. I here gave Genl. Maney orders to move rapidly through the woods and attack and carry a Battery of Eight Guns (12 lb Napoleons) of the Enemy, planted on an eminence in an open field some three hundred yards to the front and about one hundred yards beyond the edge of the woods, which was fiercely opposing my advance, and had almost destroyed Genl. Donelson’s Command on my left.”

The fact that Cheatham states that Parsons had “almost destroyed” Donelson’s command indicates that the proximity between the guns of Parsons and the right of Donelson’s brigade must have been very close. As seen in the above image—related by current bogus histories—the right of Donelson’s brigade would have been nearly 700 yards south of Parsons’ position and place in defilade by terrain and concealed by the dense beech forrest that once covered the area south and east of Open Knob. Below, Cheatham explains that after the assault of Donelson and Maney against Parsons battery, he had Donelson “reform” as Stewart’s brigade had come to its relief.

The Battery having fallen, I rode forward to order the reserve into action, and on reaching the fence, met Genl Maney returning from the hill top, over which his front line had just passed in the same mission. The first Regt was promptly placed in line a little to the right of the Battery just captured, and moved forward with direction to attack another Battery (Loomis’) which about this time had opened on Maney’s front line, and that of Gen. Stewart which had come up and relieved Gen. Donelson’s Brigade, which latter I ordered to reform in a ravine about one hundred yards to the rear.”

B. Brigadier General Daniel Donelson, commanding First Division, report of the battle: Donelson’s report—of which only a portion of one sentence has ever been quoted—more clearly represents the movements of his brigade and its association with the other brigades of the division. He is clear the initial attack was at “a house and small cornfield.” The fight lasted a “short time” and the battery fell into “our possession.” The first battery to fall to Confederate attacks was in fact Parsons battery. Donelson’s brigade was the first to attack that afternoon.

“The Enemy was near a small farm House and Cornfield from which point they opened fire upon the 16th​ Tenn Regt and upon the other two Regts as they came into line on the left. The fight here was obstinate and warmly contested. Col. Savage received a flesh wound in his leg and an injury to his back. … The charge was made at a House and small cornfield some 100 yards from the Enemy’s Battery. There [sic] infantry soon fell back to the battery the command following in hot pursuit. At this point the Cornfield was exceedingly hot and obstinately contested. At his critical moment the 3rd​ Brigade came to the rescue. The contest for the battery lasted but a short time causing great loss of life on both sides before the Enemy retreated leaving the field and battery in our possession.”

C. Brigadier General George Maney’s, commanding 3rd​ Brigade, report of the battle: Maney’s report clearly illustrates the proximity of his own brigade to the right of Donelson’s brigade. Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson was temporarily in charge of the First Tennessee when they advanced alongside the Sixteenth Tennessee in the final push for Parsons’ guns. Maney knew that Savage’s men had been severely handled, and requested Patterson to support his left and Donelson’s right in the last push.

“After proceeding several hundred yards through the woods in the course I had first taken, I was informed General Donelson had become hotly engaged and was in great need of reinforcements. The action seemed but a short distance to my front and appeared to be fiercely waged, both with infantry and artillery. … I ascertained by a personal reconnaissance the position of the enemy. Facing my approach and slightly to the right of General Donelson’s command was a strong battery placed on a hilltop in an open field and less than 120 yards from the nearest edge of the woods, in which I was. The battery was actively engaged, partly on Donelson’s command at short range and partly in firing into the woods through which I was approaching. General Stewart’s Brigade, which was to form between General Donelson’s and mine, had not yet arrived, but my instructions as well as the immediate assistance needed by General Donelson’s command committed me to engagement without delay and my preparations to attack the battery were made forthwith.”

“Colonel Patterson’s attention was directed to the protection of the left flank of the front line against any attempt by the enemy there, General Donelson’s line having been too much weakened to secure this by advancing in line with it.”

D. Colonel John H. Savage, commanding the 16th​ Tennessee, report of the battle: Savage provides a good description of the proximity of Maney’s brigade to his regiment, but later claims that it was his regiment that captured Parsons’ guns. This has led previous historians to believe he can’t be referring to Parsons’ battery. Following evidence from the First Tennessee will prove otherwise. He also makes nameless mention of the Hafley Cabins and the body of General Jackson.

“The right of the regiment was at the two cabins. There was a battery in the line of battle to the right, about thirty or forty yards from these cabins, between which cabins there was an entry, or space, of ten or fifteen feet. … At this time I saw a force to my right and in my rear. … The men at the battery had been killed or wounded or had fled before Maney’s brigade appeared in the field to my right, some hundred yards or more distant…”

“The report appearing in the eighth volume of the so-called “Confederate Military History” does the Sixteenth and Colonel Savage a gross injustice by the suppression of and failure to state important facts. It fails to state that the Sixteenth Regiment killed General Jackson, who refused to surrender at the battery they captured, and that Jackson’s body was found among the guns of the battery near the double cabins. It also fails to state that Savage was wounded by a minie ball and was knocked down by the wood off a canister shot, fired by the battery near the double cabins at which General Jackson was killed. It also fails to state that the Sixteenth Regiment under orders from Donelson and Cheatham and without support on the right or the left charged and broke the enemy’s line of battle thirty minutes before General Maney’s brigade appeared in the open field on the right.”

“General Maney also says in his letter: “Assuming always that your regiment, the Sixteenth, was part of Donelson’s brigade, I very well remember in conversation having stated to you that it had been engaged for not less than thirty minutes before my command came to your assistance by attacking at your right, and having so stated verbally, of course am willing at your pleasure to place it in writing as I here do.”

E. Captain J. J. Womack, Company E, 16th​ Tennessee Regiment, diary entry: Captain Womack has a very telling entry for the battle and makes mention of Parsons’ battery and Maney’s brigade coming to their assistance approximately thirty minutes into the fight. He was also aware that General Jackson was killed there.

“Victory” for our motto was shouted all along our line, and fearlessly and gallantly we charged them. The Regt. to which I belonged (Col. Savage’s) was on the extreme right of Gen. Bragg’s army, and was directly in front of the seven-gun battery before spoken of. … With two batteries and the whole line of infantry occupying a chosen position, pouring a destructive fire upon us, (one brigade) we were compelled, after the most stubborn resistance possibly to be made, to fall back, not without however, having first dislodged the enemy from his stronghold and chosen ground. With our numbers now much weakened we rallied and charged them a second time, with about the same success as the first. Again we were compelled to fall back, and again formed and charged them a third time, but our forces were so diminished by this time that I am not at all sure we would have been able to drive them from their guns had it not been for the timely arrival of re-enforcements on our right. Fortunately however they appeared in time to gain the day, although they scarcely fired a gun themselves. But their appearance on the field stuck terror to the already retreating enemy, who fell back about three hundred yards, on their second line, … They had now not only left their splendid battery of seven cross pieces in our hands, which they had been commanded never to desert, together with many a one of their fellows slain and wounded, but also their general, the gallant Jackson, who fell exhorting his men never to abandon the field.”

F. Private Thomas R. Hooper, Company A, 16th​ Tennessee Regiment, diary entry: Private Hooper gives a brief—but vivid—account of the actions that took place in the first thirty minutes of the fight. He notes the arrival of Maney’s brigade and the capture of Parsons’ battery.

“… we raised the yell and charged with few obstacles; got in 1 ½ or 200 yards where we turned loose on them, but we were now carried in advance of the other Regiments but we advanced on driving the Enemy before us; for some distance til [sic] we were about to be cut off at this critical time we got help by or from General Maney’s BrigadeWe were at this time and had been for some time in about fifty to one hundred yards of a battery of 8 or 9 pieces on our right and our left wing with another firing down our center, all heavily supported by infantry. We with our assistance now taken the battery on our right but before this I think we had killed nearly all their horses, and a great many of their men and to be regretted we had lost many of our brave fellows out of the old 16th​.”

G. First Lieutenant Jesse Walling, Company E, 16th​ Tennessee, letter to Savage: Lieutenant Walling recalled the fight for Parsons battery as well as the arrival of Maney’s brigade.

“The first sight that we had of the enemy was a battery of beautiful cannon. We charged in right oblique course and were met by the grape and canister shot from these guns, which killed many of our men. All at once the enemy raised up from behind a rail fence, pouring a deadly fire into us and killing great numbers of our men. We fell back a short distance, rallied and charged again, meeting the same deadly fire which drove us back for the second time. The third time we went over the fence, driving the enemy before us, capturing the cannon. We continued running them, killing them as they ran. Their dead and wounded lay thick behind the fence and over the field. … The Sixteenth was engaged with the enemy for at least thirty minutes when General Maney’s men appeared to our right as we were running the enemy across the field.”

H. Private Carroll H. Clark, Company I, 16th ​Tennessee Regiment, from his memoirs: Private Clark makes note of the arrival of Maney’s brigade as well as mentioning the Hafley Cabin.

“We were in 40 yards of the enemy & they were falling fast. I hurriedly glanced to the right & left to see if the main line was engaged. Genl. Maney’s Brigade came to our rescue on our right, & saved the remainder of our regiment from being killed & captured. … The enemy finally retreated & we followed on. They loaded as they fell back but would whirl & shoot back. As we passed the little cabin on the hill I was seriously wounded through my right side above my hip. We then had them on the run.”

I. Private James R. Thompson, Company A, 16th​ Tennessee Regiment, from his memoirs: Private Thompson also make note of the Hafley Cabins as well as Parsons’ battery and the arrival of Maney’s brigade.

“… we were ordered to charge, and we went forward with a rush. The enemy fell back and we crossed the fence they were behind, amid hundreds of their slain. … a flanking party had started around us on our right with their guns at a right shoulder shift. … Just at this critical moment, Maney’s Brigade appeared upon the scene. With a yell they charged and drove back the flanking party. … There was a battery just to our right side. When the flanking party was driven back, I thought it should be silenced or captured. There were two little log cabins just behind the enemy line that we had captured and a fence running about north and south. … the enemy finally yielded this line and fell back a few hundred yards to a lane.”

J. Colonel R. C. Tyler, commanding the 15th​ Tennessee Regiment, newspaper account October 1862: Colonel Tyler was an eyewitness to the fight that afternoon. He mentions the capture of Parsons’ guns with Maney and Donelson’s brigades early in the fight, as well at the death of General Jackson.

“Maney’s Brigade with Donelson’s were sent round to the enemy’s extreme left to capture a battery that had been so destructive to us. The battery taken, and here the Yankee General Jackson fell. This was half an hour after the fight became general.”

K. Private Marcus Toney, Company B, 1st​ Tennessee Regiment, Maney’s brigade, Cheatham’s Division: Private Toney is one of the most reliable sources regarding Maney’s brigade’s proximity to the Sixteenth Tennessee and Donelson’s brigade. In addition to General Maney, Toney has four separate accounts that place the Sixteenth Tennessee side by side and attacking Parsons’ battery with the First Tennessee of Maney’s brigade. Company B was the left most company of the First Tennessee and would have been adjacent to the Sixteenth Tennessee’s right flank.

1. Toney’s newspaper account of 1893:

“I was a member of Company B, Rock City Guards, and we went into that fight thirty-three strong, and when it closed fourteen were killed and thirteen wounded. Our regiment, with Savage’s, was ordered to take the enemies’ artillery, and in the effort were almost destroyed. In that fight the gallant First began a record which became more glorious as the war progressed. We took Parsons’ splendid battery…

2. Toney’s newspaper article of 1904:

“The First Tennessee moved in line of battle across Chaplin River and up the bluff. When we reached the summit we came upon Gen. [sic] Savage’s regiment and he was hotly engaged with the enemy. Gen. Polk rode up and asked what regiment. The answer from Col. Fields, the First Tennessee.

The next command was, “Move your regiment by the right flank.” As soon as we uncovered from Col. Savage’s right we moved against the enemy, which in our immediate front was Gen. Jackson’s brigade of Ohio troops, although they were all Germans.

When we charged they fled precipitately, and in attempting to rally them Gen. Jackson was killed. We captured Parsons’ eight-gun battery in Col. Savage’s onslaught. …

I did not wonder that Col. Jno. H. Savage of the Sixteenth Tennessee, and Col. George Maney of the First Tennessee, wept bitterly, for the flower of their regiments were dead or bleeding.”

3. Toney’s book Privations of a Private published in 1907:

“We crossed Chaplin River, ascended a high bluff, and when we reached the height Colonel Savage’s Sixteenth Regiment was hotly engaged with the enemy. To uncover from Colonel Savage we had to move by the right flank, and while executing this move some of our men were wounded. When we uncovered, we again moved by the left flank. General Leonidas Polk rode up and asked: “What regiment is this?” The answer was: “The First Tennessee.” He then said: “Capture that battery.”

It was Parsons’s [sic] eight-gun battery, supported by an Ohio brigade (Germans) in command of General Jackson, of Hopkinsville, Ky. They would not stand the charge, but ran in great disorder, leaving the battery in our possession. In attempting to rally them General Jackson was killed, and his body fell in our line of march.”

4. Toney’s newspaper article of 1912:

“Near the bluff General Buell had seven pieces of a Parrott battery. Our regiment, after crossing the stream, nearly dry, climbed the steep bluff and came up in rear of the Sixteenth Tennessee commanded by Colonel John H. Savage, which he called “the Panthers.” The Sixteenth was engaged in a hot contest to capture the Parrott guns which were supported by a brigade of Illinois soldiers and Ohio soldiers commanded by General Jackson, from Hopkinsville, Kentucky. As we were moving by the right flank in the rear of Colonel Savage and endeavoring to uncover from his right, several of our men were shot before we got into action.

While laying down awaiting orders, General Leonidas Polk rode up and asked: “What Regiment?” The reply: “First Tennessee.” He ordered Colonel Fields as soon as he uncovered from Colonel Savage to move by the left flank and assist Colonel Savage to capture that battery.

When we got into line of battle, the firing was furious, but as soon as we fired the Ohio troops fled and we captured the Parrott guns. … When we charged the Ohio brigade with Colonel Savage of the Sixteenth Tennessee and Colonel George C. Porter of the 6th​ Tennessee, General Jackson, with sword drawn, attempted to rally his men but he was killed and his body fell in the line of company F, Captain Jack Butler …”

3. Indisputable Facts

1.
There are some very important facts that tend to be over-looked by historians of this battle. First and foremost is the fact that the first two forces to become heavily engaged in this fight—in line of battle—were the 123rd​ Illinois for the Federal forces and the Sixteenth Tennessee for the Rebel forces. Neither of these forces was deployed as skirmishers. Additionally, all the accounts from both of these units reinforce the fact that they were the first units to come into heavy contact with the opposing force’s main line. Thus, if they were the first opposing units to come into heavy contact, they had to have engaged one another. History also records that the attack was commenced from right to left, and that the Sixteenth was initially the furthest north or right-most Rebel unit. All Federal reports also recognize that the initial heavy action was on the Federal left, and that the 123rd​ Illinois was the first unit engaged in line of battle on the left.

2. From all accounts in the Sixteenth Tennessee, the regiment seized a battery in the first thirty to forty minutes of action.

3. From all Federal accounts, Parsons’ battery fell in the first thirty to forty minutes of action.

4. All accounts that relate the capture of the guns insist that it was taken with Maney’s assistance.

5. No other unit claims the capture of a battery so early in the action other than Maney’s brigade.

6. No Federal battery—other than Parsons’—was lost in action so early in the fight.

7. Maney admits that he came to Donelson’s assistance on his right after being ordered forward by Cheatham.

8. Maney confirmed in a letter to Savage that he did come to his assistance by attacking at his right after Savage’s regiment was engaged for not less than thirty minutes.

9. Joseph Hafley and his family were living on Squire H. P. Bottom’s property at the time of the battle.

10. H. P. Bottom owned the land encompassing the Confederate cemetery and Open Knob.

11. Federal engineer officers Ruger and Kilp surveyed the field following the battle.

12. The information from their 1862 survey was compiled and published on a map printed in 1877 by authority of the Secretary of War and the Office of the Chief of Engineers in the U.S. Army.

13. Ruger and Kilp identified a family on the south-east slope of Open Knob that they labeled as “Hayflay.”

14. The 1860 census of Boyle County, Kentucky lists only one Hafley in the county. Joseph Hafley had a Perryville P.O.

15. Joseph Hafley did not live in Perryville in either the 1870 or 1880 censuses. That proves that the name was not labeled there on a later map.

16. Modern historians credit the Sixteenth Tennessee with the capture of Harris’ battery. Harris’ battery fell to the Rebels at about dusk—near six p.m. This time frame is completely inconsistent with all accounts of the men in the ranks of the Sixteenth Tennessee that state they captured their battery in the first thirty plus minutes of action.

17. The 123d Illinois was engaged before Starkweather’s right was engaged, but Starkweather states that his right two regiments were struck by Donelson’s brigade. If Maney came into action after Donelson was engaged—as Maney states—the Sixteenth Tennessee would have to be the unit engaging the 123d Illinois and Parsons’ guns. They were engaged before Starkweather.

18. Before commencing his attack—from a personal reconnaissance, Maney observed Parsons’ battery engaged at “close range” with Donelson’s right-most unit. From his assault position, he would not have been able to observe any portion of Donelson’s brigade if it were in the vicinity of Widow Gibson’s owing to terrain and vegetation. This can only support the fact that Donelson’s right and the Sixteenth Tennessee were within one or two-hundred yards of Maney’s line of sight.

19. The Sixteenth Tennessee was the right-most unit in Donelson’s brigade.

20. Marcus Toney—a member of the First Tennessee—described in detail (in four separate accounts) the Sixteenth Tennessee engaged with Parsons’ battery directly in his front and the charge to capture the guns with that regiment.

21. T. J. Wade’s account—Company I, First Tennessee—concurs with Toney’s account of the attack in that the First Tennessee came up in rear of Donelson’s brigade.

22. At least two members of Stewart’s brigade relate either Donelson’s brigade or the Sixteenth Tennessee attacking a battery on a hill. This was before they went into action observing from their assault position. Stewart’s brigade only went into action after Parsons’ guns fell to the Confederates.

23. The Crosscup and West engraving of the Battle of Perryville was specifically commissioned for Thomas Head’s History of the Sixteenth Regiment Tennessee Volunteers. The engraving is true to the words of the men that were in the ranks that day and includes the unidentified Hafley Cabin on the extreme right flank of the Rebel attack.

These facts can stand alone in the determination as to what battery the Sixteenth Tennessee engaged that day. They are irrefutable. Not one of the statements can be intelligently argued.

Administration and Logistics:

With the evidence presented above, it would be more appropriate for the defenders of the current histories to provide evidence to support their theory that the Sixteenth Tennessee attacked the Federal center, seized the Widow Gibson cabin and outbuilding, and captured Harris’ battery with the assistance of Maney’s brigade in the first thirty to forty minutes of the battle. However, that would be impossible. Many of the sources—quoted above—have been used after being cherry picked and dissected to make the current conclusions make sense; however, it would be interesting to see how they could utilize these sources in their entirety without cherry picking.

Simply put, there is not one single eyewitness source that corroborates the current telling of the story of the battle on the Confederate right or center.

Command and Control:

Unfortunately, the ultimate confirmation of the Hafley Cabin site may never be possible. Due to an attempt to make the field of battle appear more closely to what the “authorities” believe it may have looked like in 1862, numerous land clearing projects have been conducted over the years—and still are being conducted—using heavy excavating equipment potentially destroying vital artifacts relative to the battle and potential structures. Some of these projects took place on Open Knob between the years 2004 and 2008 were apparently approved by the park’s management and is assumed that it was approved by the Kentucky Historical Society as well.

If this was in fact approved, there should be documentation from the archeologists or anthropologists that were there at the scene whenever earth moving was taking place. The information that was archived will most certainly be instrumental in the attempt to document archeological evidence of the Hafley homesite. If no such documentation took place, it is a leadership failure by either the State of Kentucky or whomever approved of such excavations.



[1] https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3954p.cw0227000/?r=0.631,0.481,0.388,0.247,0
[2] Paris, Louis-Philippe-Albert D'Orléans, Comte De. [Histoire de la guerre civile en Amérique Atlas. 1874-90]. [Paris: Michel Lévy, 1890] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2009581129/. (Accessed June 04, 2017.)
 

dlofting

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 13, 2013
Location
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Perryville is the only major CW battle that I know very little about. That said, I was able to read what you wrote without bias of any sort. You make a compelling case for the location of Parson's battery, the assault by the 16th Tennessee and subsequent capture with support from Maney's brigade. I had no problem following your logic and picturing what you were talking about. If archaeological investigations were done on the site of the Hafley buildings there should be a report of the findings. If not I hope the possible site disturbance in the early 2000's was minimal and evidence of the foundations, whether wood or stone, can be found.
 
Joined
May 18, 2005
Location
Spring Hill, Tennessee
Perryville is the only major CW battle that I know very little about. That said, I was able to read what you wrote without bias of any sort. You make a compelling case for the location of Parson's battery, the assault by the 16th Tennessee and subsequent capture with support from Maney's brigade. I had no problem following your logic and picturing what you were talking about. If archaeological investigations were done on the site of the Hafley buildings there should be a report of the findings. If not I hope the possible site disturbance in the early 2000's was minimal and evidence of the foundations, whether wood or stone, can be found.
Thanks. I tried to be as concise as possible. I've tried to contact UK Lexington to get the records from the Anthropology department, but I have had not luck so far. The only way historians have been able to use many of the quotes above is by cherry picking and dissecting them to mold bits and pieces into something that makes sense to them, all because they were unaware of the Hafley homesite. Oddly, its been on the map since the day it was surveyed, but the primary maps the historians used didn't include that homesite due to overcrowding when showing troop dispositions.
 

gjpratt

Private
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Mission accomplished. i have forwarded the post to several avocational historians like me as an example of forensic historical research at its finest.
 

Andy Cardinal

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Location
Ohio
Wow! I can't claim to know much about Perryville, but this was amazing. For what its worth, it has inspired me to find out more.

Good luck with your efforts.
 
Joined
May 18, 2005
Location
Spring Hill, Tennessee
Mission accomplished. i have forwarded the post to several avocational historians like me as an example of forensic historical research at its finest.
Thanks so much! I am only a bartender, but once had high expectations of becoming a Professor of History. The G.I. bill didn't do much in those days and a failing marriage didn't help any. Anyway, I need help spreading this word in more than one way. The State of Kentucky - I was told yesterday - has put too much time into this, and is done considering it. Funny thing is - they have put NO time into it yet. I guess the good ole boy system is in effect at Perryville. They are totally unwilling to have a sit-down and go over the actual evidence. I sent this copy to the director and asked him to look it over and give me his thoughts. When I spoke with him yesterday he admitted he had not even looked at it and the "State" told him he had spent too much time on it. B.S. I would like to know who the "State" is. That's just pathetic. Does the "State" control his personal opinion, or is he perhaps part of the problem?
 
Joined
May 18, 2005
Location
Spring Hill, Tennessee
Wow! I can't claim to know much about Perryville, but this was amazing. For what its worth, it has inspired me to find out more.

Good luck with your efforts.
Thank you! I trust that you will do your best to learn of this battlefield. This is truly the most undisturbed Civil War battlefield in the nation. Everyone must go there at some point!
 

gjpratt

Private
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Thanks so much! I am only a bartender, but once had high expectations of becoming a Professor of History. The G.I. bill didn't do much in those days and a failing marriage didn't help any. Anyway, I need help spreading this word in more than one way. The State of Kentucky - I was told yesterday - has put too much time into this, and is done considering it. Funny thing is - they have put NO time into it yet. I guess the good ole boy system is in effect at Perryville. They are totally unwilling to have a sit-down and go over the actual evidence. I sent this copy to the director and asked him to look it over and give me his thoughts. When I spoke with him yesterday he admitted he had not even looked at it and the "State" told him he had spent too much time on it. B.S. I would like to know who the "State" is. That's just pathetic. Does the "State" control his personal opinion, or is he perhaps part of the problem?
Your books on the 16th Tennessee and Spring Hill are at least the equal of books by history professors or teachers or professional historian. I have learned much from them and the detail that is the obvious product of painstaking research.
 

Andy Cardinal

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Location
Ohio
With any luck I'll get a chance to visit this summer when we are in Kentucky. It'll be a couple hour detour out of our way and an extra day of travel, which is no problem for me but may be for my wife.
 

Will Carry

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Location
The Tar Heel State.
Nice work Gunny! Lumsden's Battery had a 3 inch rifled piece made of iron at Perryville. They commented on how accurate it was. They also said they buried some cannon in an apple orchard along their path of retreat near a now abandoned fort.
 

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