Welcome to Kentucky!
Robert E: After a very restful night in Bardstown, Kentucky,
we used our second "free" day to jaunt around the back roads of
Abe: My home state is exceedingly beautiful
with green-clad hills and deep, wooded hollows between them. During
the Civil War, Kentucky was a border state separating the Confederacy
and the Union. The eastern half of Kentucky was Union sympathizers.
Robert E: While the western half wanted to
secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.
Abe: That is why I stated "to lose Kentucky
is nearly the same as to lose the whole game" in September, 1861,
following the disastrous Federal defeat at the First Battle of Bull
Run in July.
E: Ahem, Mr. President, it is properly known as the First Battle
of Manassas. Northerners often get confused and call battles by
the names of the nearest river while we Southerners call them by
the name of the nearest town. That is why the Battle of Sharpsburg
is sometimes named the Battle of Antietam, and the Battle of Stones
River in Tennessee, should be known as the Battle of Murfreesboro.
Photo: Cannon at
Abe: Thank you, General. I stand corrected.
History often does have two faces to it.
Battle of Perryville:
Robert E: The first stop of the day was to
visit the Civil War Battlefield at Perryville. This
engagement is another one of the many conflicts of that War that
is labeled "one of the bloodiest battles." Speaking from personal
observation, every battle or skirmish in the War Between The States
was bloody. Photo: Me at the Perryville Battlefield. Notice how
the land rolls behind me?
Perryville is a pleasant little town nestled
in rolling countryside. In the fall of 1862, this area of Kentucky
was suffering a drought. All of the creeks and runs had dried up.
Both sides, but particularly the South, were very low on water.
search for water led the Confederates, under the command of General
Braxton Bragg, to Perryville where they encountered the entire Federal
Army under Union General Don Carlos Buell, who had seized the only
available water in the area at Doctor's Creek.
the afternoon of October 8, 1862, the two armies clashed, not only
over the meager water supplies, but for the State of Kentucky. The
Confederate force of 16,000 men was heavily outnumbered by the 36,940
Federal troops. Nevertheless, the Confederates attacked over the
steeply rolling terrain.
Two of the men who are profiled in PAPA
WAS A BOY IN GRAY fought on the Southern
side in Perryville that day.
Story -- Frank Hurlbert:
Hurlbert, a private in the 3rd Florida Infantry, was only sixteen
years old at the time. His unit was in the forefront of the Confederate
battle line where they kept up a withering fire throughout the afternoon.
This was Frank's first taste of war, and he never forgot it. Happily,
he survived the day without a scratch. Photo: Me at the Confederate
Monument (at the bottom) that marks the spot of the Confederate
front lines where Frank Hurlbert and John Gunn fought. The wreath
of red and white carnations was there when we arrived.
about Hurlbert's daughter, Mrs.
Aurelia Hurlbert Hannon.
Story -- John Gunn:
John Gunn, a member of the 37th Tennessee Infantry, also survived
the day without a scratch. Like Frank Hurlbert, Perryville was the
twenty-year-old's initiation into war.
Though the Confederates
technically won this battle, they retreated before the Union regrouped.
In short, it was a draw. Photo: Postcard of the Confederate Monument.
On the day of our visit, the fields were
green with ripening corn, the creeks flowed with water, and the
sky was blue. Looking at the peaceful scene it was hard to imagine
what a horrible sight it must have been 139 years ago.
Abe: After enjoying a quick lunch
in Danville, Kentucky -- the original capital of this state before
it was moved north to Frankfort -- we drove on scenic back roads
through small villages and farms that looked the same today as they
must have looked a century ago.
Lincoln Birthplace NHS (Hodgenville, Kentucky):
Our next stop was the National Park Visitors'
Center at Hodgenville, Kentucky -- my birthplace.
Mary and me at my Birthplace (left) and National Park Passport Cancellation
to show we were actually there (right).
In December, 1808, Thomas and Nancy Lincoln
purchased Sinking Spring Farm for $200 -- a lot of money nearly
two hundred years ago. They moved into a one-room log cabin near
the Sinking Spring.
Me at the Sinking Spring (left) and Postcard of the Sinking Spring
(right). The sign states: "THE SINKING
SPRING. The Thomas Lincoln family obtained its water supply from
this spring; the infant child, Abraham, had his earliest drinks
of water from this source. When Thomas Lincoln moved here in 1808,
the 300-acre farm already was variously known as 'Sinking Spring,'
'Rock Spring,' or 'Cave Spring" Farm, taking its name from
this spring of water."
This simple home measured only 18 by 16
feet, had a dirt floor, one window with no glass, one door, a small
stone-lined fireplace, a shingle roof, and a low chimney made of
clay, straw, and wood. The reconstructed cabin is now sheltered
from the elements inside a Greco-Roman Memorial. Some of the wood
and the hearth are original from the days of Lincoln.
Photo: Postcard of the
Lincoln Birthplace cabin inside the Memorial Building. Flash photographs
were not allowed.
On February 12, 1809, the Lincoln family
of Thomas, Nancy, and little Sarah "welcomed into a world of blood
and battle, of whispering dreams and wistful dust, a new child,
a boy," wrote noted Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg. The family
lived in this home for two years.
Moves to Knob Creek, Kentucky:
Thomas moved his family 10 miles north of Sinking Spring and over
a small mountain to Knob Creek where the soil was much richer for
farming. Photos: Me at the reconstructed
log cabin at the Knob Creek Farm. We arrived there ten minutes after
the Visitors' Center closed for the day.
here was better for the Lincolns. My earliest memories are planting
pumpkin seeds on this farm and going to my first school run by a
rural school teacher named Caleb Hazel. However, Thomas eventually
became embroiled over a lawsuit involving the title to the land
he lived on. Losing the farm, Thomas packed up his family and moved
across the Ohio River into Indiana, to my boyhood home that we visited
in June. Read more
in Report #3.
Robert E: In short, we have been going backward
in your life from Springfield,
Illinois; to Pigeon
Creek, Indiana; to Knob
Creek and finally to Sinking
Spring Farm at Hodgenville, Kentucky.
Abe: Exactly. It has been a great pleasure
for me to have seen each of my old homes again. Each one was beloved
Stop -- Bardstown, Kentucky!
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