Battlefields are known as hotspots of paranormal activity, particularly the ones where the bloodiest battles took place.
“We’re really haunted,” said Bryan Bush, park manager at Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, where 20,000 Union troops and 16,000 Confederate soldiers clashed on October 8, 1862, for Kentucky’s largest (and grisliest) Civil War battle. “So much stuff happens around here, we don’t even pay attention anymore.”
Bugle calls, regimental bands playing in the field and other unexplained phenomena that sound off in the night – and day – have been experienced. In fact, Bush was on the battlefield with one of the many paranormal investigative groups that routinely ghost hunt at Perryville, pointing out spectral hotspots, when the group heard a drumroll.
“Congratulations,” Bryan told his visitors. “You just met your first ghost.”
Ghosts of the battlefield
Want to meet a ghost or three? Join Bryan for Ghost Hunting and Ghost Stories on the Battlefield on Saturday, Oct. 15 and 29, for a torchlit walk that follows in the footsteps of those long-ago soldiers. Dressed in full uniform, Bryan will transport visitors back to the battle that raged here and its sad aftermath.
“You’ll hear the ghostly stories of the soldiers that never left the battlefield,” he said. Perryville had 7,621 casualties, 1,422 of whom died. “Some of our visitors here on previous walks have even had their own memorable experiences.”
Bryan admits the tour, now in its third year, is on the scary side (especially if it coincides with a full moon) and because it typically features, as any ghost tour worth its spine tingles should, an unexpected ending.
“Sometimes,” he said, “We have a little surprise for our guests.”
Before the ghosts, the reenactment
A week before the ghost walks get underway, the 160th Anniversary of the Battle of Perryville: A Civil War Reenactment will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8 and 9.
“This will be a remembrance of those who gave, as Lincoln once said, ‘Their last full measure of devotion,’” Bryan said.
In addition to hearing about the battle, visitors will learn about the African American experience as soldiers and refuges and about important figures in Kentucky’s history during the Civil War, such as Kentucky Senator Henry Clay and Kentucky abolitionist and founder of Berea College, John Fee. Younger visitors will see how Civil War soldiers marched and loaded their cannons.
“Hear the roar of artillery, the clash of sabers and the crackling of the rifles as the battle is reenacted on the actual battlefield,” said Bryan, adding that Perryville was recently voted by the American Battlefield Trust as the most intact battlefield of the Civil War.
Plan your travels
The 160th Anniversary of the Battle of Perryville: A Civil War Reenactment is a weekend commemoration festival that includes living history, food, vendors, music and more. Dates: Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8 and 9. Tickets: $15 pre-register online ($20 at gate)/adults; $10 pre-register online ($15 at gate)/children ages 7-12; free for children ages 6 and under. Discounts for seniors and military/veterans.
Ghost Hunting and Ghost Stories on the Battlefield, Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site. Dates: Saturday, Oct. 15 and 29, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets: $10/adult; $5/children ages 10-17. No walk-ons. NOTE: Tickets are non-refundable. Tour goes rain or shine. Not recommended for children under 10.
Did You Know . . . You can arrange your own ghost hunting adventure for one to 10 trekkers at Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site? Nighttime Paranormal Tours are allowed on the grounds for a fee and by a special use permit. See permit and booking details here: www.perryvillebattlefield.org/html/paranormal_tours.html.