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Engagement at Doctor’s Creek: The Battle for Kentucky at Perryville

A BGES Civil War Field University Program: A Walking Tactical Study

October 10-13, 2018

With Jim Ogden from Shaker Village, KY

For more than a century, historians told us that Gettysburg was the “High water mark of the Confederacy,” Glorieta Pass in New Mexico was called the Gettysburg of the West and yet neither claim is true. Indeed triumphant Confederate armies moved north, along a 1000 mile front, in the fall of 1862 which less than two months before the first mid term elections of the war promised huge returns if successful. In Europe and England, politicians and monarchies considered recognizing and offering assistance to end the American Civil War.

The shadow of Robert E. Lee aided by his already famous subordinate, Stonewall Jackson had reversed Union advances and were crossing, victoriously, into Maryland and looking at Pennsylvania. Wagons loaded with crated weapons were transported for the expected rush to the Confederate ranks. In Tennessee, Confederate commander, Braxton Bragg had slipped away from Federal forces in and around Corinth Mississippi and now was poised to enter Kentucky to cooperate with E. Kirby Smith in a move to liberate Kentucky and cross the Ohio River. In response a plodding movement led by Union general Don Carlos Buell abandoned its move to Chattanooga and raced to cover Nashville and then supply bases in Louisville. In Mississippi, Confederate generals Sterling Price and Earl Van Dorn moved to keep US Grant from dispatching troops to repel Bragg’s advance.

As September unfolded Battles at Richmond, Kentucky and Mundfordsville and a crippling hot month combined with a rain drought made water precious and set the stage for this bloody battle on the hills above Doctor’s Creek.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

5 PM: Meet at a Shaker Village meeting room where we will receive Jim’s opening talk. Dinner is on your own-the dining room is open until 8:30 PM.

BGES note: Jim Ogden is one of the most focused and prepared historians in American today. He has never led a tour to Perryville before and in discussions with him he wants to complete a site survey before he tells us what he intends to speak about and where he is going to lead us. I can assure you he will be prepared.

Those of you who have been with Jim before understand what I am going to say next. You can expect Jim’s opening talk will set the stage for the campaign-he will discuss the political ramifications and the principals in the coming drama. As a western war specialist he understands the various and multiple campaigns of the theater and what each means.

Ogden tours are heavily slanted towards walking and Perryville’s rolling open terrain will certainly accommodate that. You can expect extensive tactical analysis in easily understandable bytes of information. Where walks exceed the abilities of the participants the road network lets you ride a van to the end point of the walk to await the arrival of the cross country walkers. Nearly all walks will be one way with a drop off at one point and pick up at the distant end.

A wonderful aspect of this program and battlefield is that it is perhaps the most complete preserved major western battlefield outside of the National Park System-there are no modern intrusions and many landmarks of the battlefield such as the Bottom House are still extant. BGES has sponsored approximately 23 interpretative stops/signs at the battlefield.

Beyond this I cannot tell when Ogden will provide his daily itinerary; however, I can assure you that this is a special program you will not want to miss. Beyond that I cannot share anything else with you until I hear from Jim.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

8:45 AM: Depart the hotel en route to Perryville area. Itinerary to be announced. Lunch included with breakfast and dinner on your own.

Friday October 12, 2018

8:45 AM: Depart Shaker Village en route to Perryville area. Itinerary to be announced. Lunch provided. Breakfast and dinner on your own.

Saturday October 13, 2018

8:45 AM: Depart Shaker Village for the Perryville battlefield. Itinerary to be announced. Lunch provided. Breakfast and dinner on your own.


Jim Ogden is one of the finest military historians in the country. A preservationist of the first order he is often called upon to lead tours for distinguished visitors to the National Park Service-having taking Vice President Cheney and his family around Chickamauga and the region several times. In twenty years, this is the first time we have had him exclusively and privately for a tour of Perryville. Indeed, this is a program he has never done; but, wants to do. Knowing his extraordinary preparation and knowledge of the field this will be a singular treat!

Hotel Information

Perryville is a very small community with practically no amenities. Past tours have required us to bring our rations with us. The best option for us will be Shaker Village that includes a la carte breakfast (less than $10) and dinners (ranging from $15-$40) (see It is a great American experience-very rustic and representative of the life style of the Shakers. As a living history experience it is worth arriving early or staying late. It is also important to the 1862 Kentucky Campaign-Braxton Bragg’s army marched right through the center of the village en route to Perryville. The property is historically nice but not luxurious. Unlike other tours, we will not set aside a block of rooms, you have a range of costs and options available in the 72 rooms on site-they range from $110 to over $200. You may want to coordinate and travel with friends and share the expenses. I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS EARLY AS FALL FOLLAGE WILL QUICKLY FILL THEIR ROOMS-THERE IS EXCELLENT AVAILABILITY AT THIS TIME. If too expensive you will want to consider other options in Harrodsburg and meet us at Shaker Village.


The servicing airport is Lexington (LEX). Cincinnati (CVG) and Louisville (SDF) are further afield but have better airfares and flight options. If you fly in you will need a rental car. I find works very well for bargain hunters. There is no limo service or other transportation available to the battlefield vicinity. The drive to Shaker Village is on rural roads.

Key Publications and Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. We recommend the following books to enhance your preparation for this tour. has a program to support non profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site one half of one percent of your purchase price is provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.

  • Kenneth Noe: Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle
  • Dr. Robert Cameron: Staff Ride Handbook for the Battle of Perryville, October 8. 1862
  • Stephen Engle: Don Carlos Buell: Most Promising of All
  • Steven Woodworth, Jefferson Davis and His Generals
  • Earl Hess: Braxton Bragg: the Most Hated Man of the Confederacy

Registration includes three lunches, all paid admissions, a reading book with maps, the academic program, support of a professional historian, tour director and transportation. We will also provide snacks, bottled water and a limited selection of sodas. Shaker Village has changed its operations-they now have a la carte meals and room rates are inclusive of access to all the areas of the living history complex.

Register for this program online using our secure Sutler’s Tent ecommerce site: Register for Engagement at Doctor’s Creek: The Battle for Kentucky at Perryville.

Register by mail, or fax

Download a printable itinerary and registration form.