Engagement at Doctor’s Creek: The Battle for Perryville
A Walking Tactical Study
Oct. 10-13, 2018
A Civil War Field University Program
For more than a century, historians told us that Gettysburg was the “high water mark of the Confederacy,” and that Glorieta Pass in New Mexico was the Gettysburg of the West. And yet, neither claim is true. Indeed, in the fall of 1862, triumphant Confederate armies moved north along a 1,000-mile front, which less than two months before the first midterm 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 U.S. Grant from dispatching troops to repel Bragg’s advance.
As September unfolded, battles at Richmond, Kentucky, and Mundfordsville, plus a crippling hot month combined with a rain drought that made water precious, set the stage for this bloody battle on the hills above Doctor’s Creek.
Jim Ogden is one of the country’s finest military historians. 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 20 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!