The venue for this Civil War reenactment in Bardstown is most unusual. At the street level is a wonderful Civil War Museum, better on the inside than the outside might suggest. In fact, it is the 4th largest ..
There are other things to see in Bardstown. The Maryland Catholics settled there in 1785 and it became the first diocese of the west. It spanned from the Great Lakes to the deep south, from the Alleghenies to the Mississippi. Bardstown, then larger than Louisville, became the capital and seat of the new religious territory. Construction began on the first western Cathedral in 1816. The Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral remains a thriving religious center and is open for tours. The Abbey of Gethsemane houses America’s oldest and largest order of Cistercian Monks and is the burial site of Thomas Merton.
Stephen Foster is revered in Bardstown for having written My Old Kentucky Home, the Commonwealth’s anthem, while visiting a cousin at Federal Hill, the Rowan Plantation. Stephen Foster State Park is a beautiful place to visit.
I had a great location at the reenactment under the picnic shelter at the base of the ramp entering the Bardstown Village. Everyone had to pass me, coming and going. This is one of the few battles I’ve actually been able to see because it was a village skirmish involving all these buildings. The face-off was directly in front of me! This was a small reenactment, but unique. Robert E. Lee led the crowd in songs, and Grant told stories to the kids. I sold a bunch of books and made some good connections. The museum now carries the two Avery books. Selling books is always hard work, but on this Sunday evening I felt like I’d had a mini vacation in this idyllic little town. I recommend Kentucky for your next vacation, especially Bardstown. What I learned, again, is that history can come alive when you visit small town America.