Welcome to The Perryville Civil War Battlefield Website


US Infantry 2017

Military Living History Participant Information and Guidelines
The following information will guide you through the impression and guidelines for Perryville Battlefield’s Living History Programs.  Please read the following information thoroughly as it will answer most of the questions you may have about participating as a military living history participant.  If you have further questions, email joan.house@ky.gov or call 859-332-8631 to speak to the staff preservation and program coordinator.

Primary Impression
Primary impression will be that of an infantry private in the Army of the Ohio during the Kentucky Campaign of 1862. 

Military Living History Participant Guidelines
The following guidelines were designed to insure the appropriate and typical impression of a private in the Army of the Ohio in late 1862.  The men who engaged at Perryville were typically young men from rural communities and in general they represented the typical western infantrymen of the American Civil War.  It is in their honor that we request that your impression be based upon those typical soldiers instead of some unusual or non-typical individual. 

Federal Infantry Impression
In general, a Federal infantry impression will represent a private soldier in the Army of Ohio in the fall of 1862. Unless there is a specific interpretative purpose preplanned, impressions from earlier or later in the war, from some other theater of the war, or some other soldier impressions are inappropriate and will not be allowed. These guidelines are minimum standards; nothing less is acceptable.

The use of any modern or inappropriate material (including cigarettes, modern eyeglasses and watches, modern food containers, plastic, soda cans, sleeping bags, coolers, etc. absolutely no Cell Phones are to be visible at any time) by Living History personnel in view of the visitors will not be acceptable at any time (including "after hours"). Impressions are subject to inspection by park staff and their representatives at all times. All Kentucky state park rules and regulations must be followed.

These guidelines represent the most appropriate types of equipment and material for Living History use. As Living Historians, we must always be striving to improve our impression so as to better educate our visitors and honor the soldiers and civilians we strive to portray. These guidelines are based on continuing extensive research and documentation. Some of the sources consulted are reflected in the bibliography.

Federal Uniforms Jackets in the Kentucky Campaign
This is a brief overview of Federal coats in the Kentucky Campaign. Although one can find other examples of jackets present in the campaign, the purpose of this is to illustrate the common soldier’s uniform in Kentucky during the fall of 1862. In Louisville, Buell’s Army had an abundance of issued items.  Accounts appear in diaries describing the abundance of clothing and how this was often a problem.

        “All extra clothing which is issued we will have on a march. A knapsack filled with what is allowed a soldier weighs about thirty lbs or more.  Those undershirts which I took will have to be left or sent home if I can send them.  The army clothing is warm enough.  You need not send any stocking.  I have four pairs and can get all I want by picking up to last a life time.  You may send a pair of gloves to me if you can.  The mornings are cool and the days are quite hot.”

                                      Pvt. Bliss Morse
                                      105th OVI Co.
                                      September 1862

The enlisted men’s frock coat appears to be heavily issued during the campaign.  Frock coats were constructed from dark blue woolen cloth. The frock was generally constructed with a six-piece body and 4 skirt panels.  These coats appear to have light blue trim.  There are numerous documented photos of men in Terrill’s and Starweather’s Brigades wearing these coats.

soldier small

Private Christian Wienman
21st Wisconsin Infantry
KIA Perryville, KY

State issue jackets are also found within the ranks of the men present at Perryville.  Private William Howard Co. K 105th Ohio was photographed in what seems to be a short jacket that might be an Ohio State Jacket.  His breast plate is the Ohio State Seal and his belt buckle is OVM.  It appears that regiments from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin were issued state coats and accouterments.  There are two images of Henry and Rueben Hunter of the 42nd Indiana Infantry made just before Perryville and both men are wearing short jackets with epaulets and stand up collars


Private William Howard
105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
KIA Perryville KY

Henry Hunter

Private Henry Hunter
 42nd Indiana Infantry
 KIA Perryville KY

Rueben Hunter

Private Rueben Hunter
42nd Indiana Infantry

Federal fatigue blouses are also an accepted impression.  Federal Issue sack coats are constructed of wool flannel (lose woven fabric with a twill weave.)  These coats were issued both lined and unlined.  The lining consisted of a linen or cotton and wool mixture.


Private Peter Lightle
 Co. D, 33rd Ohio Infantry
 Killed in Action

Private Peter Lightle was killed in action at Perryville, Kentucky.  He appears to be wearing a 4 button Federal issue fatigue blouse.

The following guidelines are a minimum set of standards. The items that are listed under each heading are acceptable.  If it is not listed then it is not acceptable.

Individual Reenactment organizations are encouraged to tailor their impressions to fit the particular regiment they wish to portray.  Abundant research is available upon the various units and we encourage participants to work with park staff to achieve their impression goals.

* Enlisted men’s frock coat
* State Issue Jackets (Ohio, Illinois)
* Federal issue fatigue blouse

* Federal issue eagle
* State buttons

* Federal issue sky blue
* Federal issue dark blue
Suspenders of civilian pattern, cotton webbing, canvas, or ticking with either button holes or leather tips with tin or brass buckles (no nickel plated metal).


* Federal Issue – domet –flannel shirt
* Civilian woven checks or strips, period prints –EXTREMELY LIMITED

Military issue or civilian style in cotton or wool flannel if worn

* Forage cap
* Hardee
* Slouch hat

Hats should have as appropriate the proper sweatband, lining, ribbon, and stitching. Trim and insignia should be limited.  No dead animal parts.

* Brogan pattern shoes

          “We are not allowed to wear boots in our reg.”

                          Pvt. Bliss Morse
                          105th OVI, Co. E
                          September 1862

          “…after I got to camp I took off my boots and threw them away and got a pair of shoes…

                          Pvt Josiah Ayre
                          105th OVI, Co. D
                          September 1862

* Military or civilian pattern boot
Wool or cotton knit socks in white, a basic color, or natural color; hand knit are best.

Eyewear and Glasses:
Spectacles (what we call glasses today) were not a common item amongst Civil War soldiers or even civilians of that era. Hence, try to get by without glasses if you can while doing Living History or wear contact lenses. If you must wear glasses, visit antique stores and purchase a 19th century pair and have the lenses replaced with one of your prescription, preferably with safety lenses. No modern glasses may be worn at anytime as part of a Living History program.

Civilian attire:
Civilian attire should be extremely limited.  Some civilian attire would be present such as shirts and certainly under clothing as in any volunteer military organization, but the majority of all clothing and accouterments would be military issue as they seemed to be in abundance.

Personal effects:
Not every soldier has to have every possible personal effect. However, having at least a few of these little items helps complete and enrich the impression. In choosing personal effects, remember that you will have to carry them. Common items were combs, toothbrush, pocketknife, housewife, handkerchief (bandannas/railroad scarves are not acceptable; they should particularly not be worn as attire or adornment),
vests, civilian or military pattern wallet, writing paper pen and ink, pencil, mirror,
playing cards, various game pieces’, books or newspapers.

During the Kentucky Campaign many of the Federal soldiers were not yet veterans.  Some regiments such as the 105th Ohio endured an ugly march from Lexington to Louisville, but had not yet been on any lengthy campaigns.  These men would still maintain a “fresh fish” veneer rather than the look of a veteran of numerous campaigns. Several regiments particularly in the 10th Division were completely new to military service.

In addition to having the appropriate Living History equipment and material, it must be used and worn correctly. Pants and waist belts were worn at the real waist (i.e. the naval) and not at the hips; clothes were not form fitting; haversack and canteen straps and cartridge box belts were adjusted so that those items did not slap the soldier on the back of the legs or buttocks on the march; haversacks carried food and individual mess equipment (including the tin cup if there was room) and not personal items; personal items were carried in pockets and knapsacks; hats and coats were worn whenever in public; pants were rarely tucked in the socks. By adopting the appropriate 19th century use and appearance, the Living History impression is remarkably improved.

Tentage and Camps:
The living history program was developed to allow the visiting public to understand the workings of a fixed military encampment.  Tents are encouraged and allowed.  However, only A-Frames or Sibley tents are acceptable for enlisted men.

If you are going to construct a she-bang– Federal “rubber blankets” or “gum blankets”
Shelter halves do not appear in the Western Theater until the end of December 1862. 

Per the Federal Command - Only functioning and appropriate period civilian interaction with the military will be allowed to camp with the army: i.e. laundress, contract cook, civilian contractors, skilled laborers such as blacksmiths, tin smiths, etc. and refugee. Civilians simply cooking for reenactment units are not considered a functioning or appropriate impression for the military camps. 

Camp Equipage:

Each soldier should carry a period tin cup, knife, fork, spoon, and tin plate. More extensive cooking items such as period individual frying pans (even improvised ones from old canteens) are not necessary and should be very limited Cooking during the Kentucky Campaign was done in messes (four or five to fifteen men) sharing the cooking duties and using large cooking utensils such as kettles, camp kettles, frying pans, coffee pots, dutch ovens, large spoons and forks, butcher knives, mess pans, wooden water buckets, axes, etc. These large items were carried in the regimental baggage wagons which accompanied the troops except in the presence of the enemy. They were often packed in wooden boxes serving as mess chests. When the soldiers were issued rations (normally in three to five day increments), the baggage wagons with the cooking utensils were present except on rare occasions. In some units, the soldiers assigned to the wagon trains did the cooking and the rations were delivered cooked to the troops in the ranks. Tables, chairs, and stools were not provided for soldiers or even company officers.
Due to the impression they will be allowed in the fixed encampment scenarios, but they must be period correct.

One flag per regiment/battalion.  The park owns a good many reproduction flags and will issue the correct flags to be carried upon the field.

* M1855 or M1861 “Springfield” pattern .58 Caliber Rifle-Musket.
* M1853, Type III, .577 (.58) Caliber Enfield 3-Band Rifle-Musket.

Side arms only for officers and approved cavalry impressions.

Cartridge box and cartridge box belt
* M1855/61 box and tins
* Enfield box and tins
* M1842 box and tins

Cap box
* M1845/50 pattern
* Enfield style

Waist belt and waist belt plate
* State Buckles
* US
Waist belt should be of appropriate Federal Issue and appropriate to the buckle.

Bayonet and Scabbard
Appropriate for the weapon and bayonet being carried.

* Double bag pattern
* Other common period patterns
Numerous primary resources site that knapsacks were dropped by many Union regiments before entering the Battle of Perryville.  It would be reasonable to see several soldiers without knapsacks. An accurate impression would be to leave knapsacks in camp under guard before assembling for the battle.

* Federal pattern--smooth side
* Other common period pattern
“Bullseye canteens are post Perryville and not appropriate for the impression.
Straps should be cotton, cotton webbing, or leather sewn together or with a buckle or button. As few as two-thirds or one-half of the men need to carry canteens

Appropriate Black Federal pattern

* Union issue blanket
* Blanket made from period pattern wool

Gum blankets/ground cloth:
Any appropriate Federal issue gum blanket

Noncommissioned officers:

Noncommissioned officers were important to the functioning of the line of battle in combat. The ratio of sergeants to privates was about one to seven or eight and the ratio for corporals was about one to nine. Living History companies should manifest about the same ratio. Noncommissioned officers should be equipped the same as privates. Chevrons are not necessary and their use should be limited. Noncommissioned officers should know the drill and duties expected of them.

The general ratio of commissioned officers to noncommissioned officers and enlisted men in the campaign averaged one to ten. Companies typically had three, sometimes two, of their four authorized officers. Therefore, if there are ten or more soldiers, it would be appropriate to have an officer represented, probably a second lieutenant. With twenty or more soldiers, there should be one or two officers, a first or second lieutenant. Thirty to forty soldiers should have a captain and two lieutenants.
Command Structure and Company Size

Park staff will designate an overall command structure who will portray field grade officers. Other field grade officers will be acceptable if the minimum amount of participants is reached to constitute a battalion.

In order to adequately represent the Union Army in the field – organizations portraying a company must contain a minimum of 25 men.  Battalions must consist of at least 3 companies.

Individuals and unattached messes are welcome and invited to participate.  We will work with you to find you an appropriate regiment/battalion.

Minimum Age to Participate – To carry a weapon at the Battle of Perryville you must be at least 16 years old.  No exceptions!

If these standards for participation are acceptable then you are welcome to register for the Battle of Perryville.

Haver, Thomas T., Forty-Eight Days, The 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Camp Cleveland, Ohio to Perryville, Kentucky.

OR, Vol. 52, Pt. 1, p. 51 – 53

OR. Vol. 16, Pt. 2, p. 746-747

Primary Resources provided by Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, Manuscript Collection.

Tobey, John E., The Columbia Rifles Compendium, 2nd Edition.

Time-Life Books Echoes of Glory: Arms and Equipment of The Union, Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy, 2 volumes (1991).

Special thanks to the staff at Chickamauga National Battlefield for their assistance in developing these impression guidelines.



free hit counters

All Material in this Site is   © 2007-2017 Perryville Historic Battlefield
Website Designed and Maintained by GRAPHIC ENTERPRISES