2002 Relatives Reunion

80th Indiana Volunteer Infantry

An American Civil War Regiment

Relatives of 80th Indiana soldiers
Rally around its regimental banner
Photo courtesy of Ray Mulesky

"Let us continue to honor those who fought here by remaining dedicated to the principles their sacrifice helped preserve for us: the equality of the human race, the reconciliation between brothers, and the preservation of these United States."

--Aasta Mason Carver, Great, Great Granddaughter of
Sergt. Albert Pancake, Co. H

The first-ever 80th Indiana Relatives Reunion was held on Saturday, October 5th, at the Perryville Battlefield Park, just outside of the small town of Perryville, Kentucky.  The furies of tropical storm Lili had passed through 24 hours earlier, leaving us with a very pleasant, newly-washed day for the reunion.  
The reunion was held concurrent with a large-scale reenactment of portions of the October 8, 1862, Battle of Perryville (originally know as the Battle of Chaplin Hills).  The reenactment was being held in honor of the battle's 140th anniversary.  It was at Perryville that the 80th Indiana first experienced combat ("seen the elephant" as they said in those days), just one month to the day after receiving its uniforms and weapons.   
Just as soldiers had trouble finding their way during the original battle, many of the reunion attendees spent considerable time wandering the park before locating the reunion headquarters.  However, once there they introduced themselves, signed the registry, pinned on a red, white and blue 80th Indiana rosetta, received copies of Seeing the Elephant: The 80th Indiana at Perryville, shared stories and photos of and letters and diaries by their ancestors, and examined reproductions of the uniforms, equipment, and weapons their Great, Great's used in the American Civil War.  The day's activities also included the following.  
Sunrise Tactical.  The day began at first light with a tactical (unscripted) mock battle.  It pitted several thousand Union and Confederate reenactors in a contest of 19th century martial skill that either side could win.  While not strictly an 80th-related activity, it gave those who got up early to attend it the chance to see period fighting up close and without a large crowd. 
Morning Parade and Drill Exhibition.  Those who watched this saw Union Infantry regiments conducting a formal morning parade, and practicing brigade-level drill and maneuvers.  These are activities that the 80th Indiana regularly took part in, but which today are rarely recreated due to the large number of properly-trained reenactors needed.  
Afternoon Reenactment.  Those who attended this got to see a large-scale recreation of the fighting by the 80th's division (Jackson's 10th), focusing on the fate of the 80th's sister brigade (Terrill's 35th).  The bloody fighting by Terrill's Brigade closely resembled what happened to the 80th's brigade (Webster's 34th), and took place near the time and place where the 80th fought.  

Led by a reproduction of the 80th's national flag, the attendees were escorted to a favorable viewing position.  Scott Meeker, an experienced reenactor and the reunion's organizer, explained what happened to the 80th before, during, and after the original battle.  

Thanks to some 3,000 blue and gray-clad infantry and artillery reenactors, including two teams of rarely reenacted horse-drawn and mule-drawn cannon, attendees were able to see, hear, smell, and even taste something of what happened on that exact same land 140 years ago.  It is not an exaggeration to say that all who experienced this reenactment were deeply moved by it.
Memorial Service.  Immediately after the reenactment we walked to where the 80th fought, which is located on land recently added to the park.  There, with the 80th's flag flapping proudly in the late afternoon breeze, we held a brief, but moving service that included the following.
* A lovely speech by Aasta Mason Carver, the Great Granddaughter of Sergt. Albert Pancake of Co. H.  To view a copy of her presentation, click HERE.
* A reading of the names of the 80th soldiers who were killed and mortally wounded at Perryville.  Knowing these men were killed or mortally wounded near where we stood made this particularly moving.  To view a list of these men, click HERE
* A series of remembrances given by individual relatives about their 80th Indiana ancestors.  Each person added something to our knowledge of these men and their sacrifices.  

Many attending the reunion were struck by the unexpected number of connections made in the few hours we were all together.  For example, two people who had never met discovered that they were cousins.  A letter by one relative's ancestor referenced the death circumstances of another relative's ancestor.  An impromptu reading from one of the diaries included mention of the ancestor of another attendee.  

Another thing noticed was how pleasant and agreeable this group of heretofore strangers were.  The camaraderie our ancestors shared seemed to have manifested itself amongst those who attended.  To see who attended the reunion, click HERE.

And just as our ancestors held annual veterans' reunions after the war, those at this first relatives reunion were clearly in favor of holding a second one.  To that end, planning for another began within days.  If you are interested in being involved or informed about this, please contact this site's Webmaster, Scott Cantwell Meeker, at <s.c.meeker@80thindiana.net>.  

This page Copyright by Scott Cantwell Meeker of Deep Vee Productions.
All Rights Reserved. Created October 12, 2002. Last updated November 2, 2002.

Relatives Reunion Page

Modern Activities Page

80th Home Page