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The Battle of Mill Springs

By Thomas L. Breiner

March 21, 1996

© 1996 Thomas L. Breiner and the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table

Sometime in the early morning of June 9, 1995 a much beloved monument of the American Civil War met its end. The demise of this 200 years old symbol of the war was caused by a severe thunderstorm. The "Zollie Tree", as it was known, was the heart of a battlefield located in southeastern Kentucky. This giant white oak tree, with a circumference of 13 feet, witnessed the death of Confederate Brigadier General Felix Zollicoffer on January 19, 1862. Federal troops dragged the General's lifeless body from the road and placed it beneath this tree. In 1910 a little girl, seeing all the flowers decorating the graves of the Union soldiers in the nearby cemetery, began decorating the tree in memory of the 150 Confederate soldiers buried in a mass grave under the tree. This tradition was repeated every Memorial Day from 1910 to 1995. The garland flowers were still green on the day the tree fell.

This battlefield, with its 200-year old sentinel, is referred to as either the Battle of Mill Springs, Fishing Creek, or Logan's Cross Roads. The battlefield was the site of the first decisive Federal victory of the Civil War. It is located in Pulaski County, Kentucky, nine miles north of Mill Springs, three miles west of Fishing Creek and one mile south of Logan's Cross Roads. Of course you can clearly understand why the battle is primarily called Mill Springs. As a further explanation, Mill Springs was the site of the Confederate encampment on the Cumberland River, Union forces camped at Logan's Cross Roads on January 17 and 18, and Fishing Creek posed the obstacle that Union reinforcements from Brigadier General Schoepf at Somerset had to overcome to join Brigadier General Thomas' units at Logan's Cross Roads.

In 1862 Logan's Cross Roads was a small village consisting of a few rough houses and a post office. William Harrison Logan was a prosperous farmer whose large house stood at the intersection of the Mill Springs, Robertsport and Somerset roads, therefore the name Logan's Cross Roads. Logan was also the local postmaster. After the war Nancy Logan, William's wife, severed as post mistress. Postal authorities allegedly deemed Logan's Cross Roads too long a title for the little place and so the village was renamed after Nancy. Both William and Nancy are buried in the National Cemetery there.

With the break down of Kentucky's neutrally in September 1861, the Confederates established a defensive line anchored at Bowling Green on the right and Columbus, Kentucky on the left. In October, Brigadier General Zollicoffer left Knoxville and advanced into eastern Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap, Barbourville, and London. His army established Camp Wildcat in the Rockcastle Hills. Here Union forces, commanded by Brigadier General Albin Schoepf stopped the Confederates advance. On October 21, 1861, the Battle of Wildcat Mountain resulted in a Confederate retreat back to Tennessee. Zollicoffer was determined to try again. This time he entered Kentucky through Monticello and advanced to Mill Springs on the Cumberland River. Arriving in the Mill Springs area on November 29. Here a camp was established and fortified.

Felix Zollicoffer
Felix K. Zollicoffer was born May 19, 1812 in Maury County, Tennessee. He grew up in the bluegrass region of Nashville near Columbia. At the age of 16, he began working for a newspaper in Paris, Tennessee and eventually, worked for or edited papers in Columbia, Knoxville and Nashville. He received some meager military training during the Seminole War, when he served one year, 1836, as a lieutenant of volunteers. He became active in state politics serving as adjutant general from 1845 to 1849, state comptroller and state senator from 1849 to 1852, and finally, as a Tennessee congressman from 1852 to 1859. With the outbreak of war, he professed his support for the Confederacy and awarded a commission as brigadier general by Governor Harris on July 9, 1861. The governor hoped his appointment would secure the support of other southern rights Whigs. Zollicoffer's first assignment was as departmental commander for East Tennessee.

Austrian-born Albin Francisco Schoepf was educated in Vienna. He managed to rise to the rank of Captain in the Austrian army prior to his defection to the Hungarians during the revolt in 1848. After the revolt's suppression, he fled to Syria and eventually made his way to the United States by 1851. While working as a porter in a Washington hotel, the engineering-trained Schoepf attracted the attention of Joseph Holt, the Commissioner of Patents, who obtained a clerkship for him. Schoepf followed Holt to the War Department at the start of the civil war. On September 30, 1861 Schoepf received a commission as brigadier general of volunteers. His first assignment was to Holt's home state of Kentucky.

Albin F. Schoepf
The Union forces under General Schoepf concentrated at Somerset while Brigadier General George Thomas located at Lebanon, Kentucky. The Union department commander Brigadier General Don Carlos Buell, feared the Rebels would attack and overwhelm Schoepf, so he ordered all Federal forces in the area to converge west of Somerset near Fishing Creek. Thomas' command departed Lebanon on December 31 to cover the 40 miles to Logan's Cross Roads. The shin-deep mud of a Kentucky winter limited Thomas' advance to less than 4 miles a day, delaying his arrival until January 17.

William T. Sherman was responsible for George Thomas receiving a commission as brigadier general. In an interview with President Lincoln, Sherman vouched for the loyalty of his fellow West Point classmate. For those unaware, Thomas was a Virginian. Meeting Thomas in the streets of Washington after the interview, Sherman gaily announced, "Tom, you're a brigadier general." When Thomas showed no elation at this, Sherman began to have some doubts. "Where are you going?" he asked, fearing he might be on his way to the War Department to resign like so many other Virginians. "I'm going south.", Thomas replied glumly. "My God, Tom," Sherman groaned. "You've put me in an awful position! I've just made myself responsible for your loyalty." "Give yourself no trouble, Billy," Thomas said. "I'm going south at the head of my troops."

George H. Thomas
However, in the early days of 1862, his movement south was progressing slowly at best. In a message sent to Buell on January 13, General Thomas summed up his prospects as follows: "It is next to impossible to procure either forage or subsistence in the country, and entirely impracticable to haul either over the roads at this season of the year. It is therefore necessary to do one of two things - either to go to Jamestown and eventually down the river to Burkesville; thereby, cutting off all communication between Mill Springs and Nashville by the river, or work our way by this road to Somerset and join General Schoepf. We can never get supplies in any other way. Should my division proceed on to Somerset, it would be impossible to get down the river by the road on this side during the winter; and as Schoepf's force is sufficient to keep the enemy in check, I would respectfully suggest that the troops now with me proceed at once to Jamestown and eventually Burkesville, from which point their service can be made available in any operation in the direction of Bowling Green." Buell ignored Thomas' suggestion and ordered him to attack and defeat Zollicoffer.

In early December, Zollicoffer, against the wishes of both General Albert Sidney Johnston and his immediate superior, Major General George Crittenden, moved his forces north of the Cumberland River to Beech Grove. The south bank of the river had fresh water available, a grist mill, a saw mill and a supply line by river to Nashville. To reach Beech Grove, Zollicoffer had to drag a dozen cannons up the steep bluffs opposite Mill Springs and rely on the limited water craft available to transport troops and supplies across the river. By January, the flooded Cumberland had already swept away the Confederate pontoon bridge and smashed several of Zollicoffer's small boats. Fortunately, he still had some coal barges and after January 7, a small stern-wheeled steamboat Noble Ellis, which was a belated Christmas gift from General Johnston. Going into winter quarters then, Zollicoffer had lines of entrenchments dug to protect his new camp from any advance from the north. Zollicoffer's command numbered approximately 4,000 including eight infantry regiments, four cavalry battalions and two artillery companies. His troops were indifferently armed with flintlocks, squirrel rifles, and shotguns. The Union command had placed Brigadier General Schoepf at Somerset to prevent just this occurrence. On December 16, Zollicoffer issued a proclamation to the people of Southeastern Kentucky stating he was there to repel Northern hordes, who, with arms in their hands, were attempting the subjugation of a sister southern state.

George B. Crittenden
General Crittenden joined Zollicoffer at the Beech Grove encampment on January 7. Major General George Bibb Crittenden was a Kentuckian born in Russellville on March 20, 1812. His brother, Thomas Crittenden, would rise to the rank of major general for the Union. His father, John J. Crittenden, was U. S. Senator from Kentucky. George, a 1832 graduate of West Point, served in the Black Hawk War. A year later he left the army and moved to Texas, serving in the Texas Army. He rejoined the U. S. Army for the Mexican War where he was awarded brevet major for gallantry.

With the winter rains flooding the local creeks and rivers, Crittenden planned to attack the forces of General Thomas before they could unite with General Schoepf. Fishing Creek; however, receded sufficiently by January 17 to allow Acting Brigadier General Samuel Carter to wade the creek with his Twelfth Brigade. He joined Thomas at Logan's Cross Roads. This information was not available to General Crittenden as he completed his plans on the evening of January 18. Crittenden held a council of war that evening. Conflicting reports of the meeting exist. Crittenden, in his official report, states that the decision to attack Thomas' force was unanimous. Hopes that Hardee would attack the Union forces at Bowling Green, creating a diversion, were part of his consideration in planning to attack Thomas. One participant later recorded that Zollicoffer had objected, especially considering Crittenden's lack of sobriety. An Alabama solider later wrote that both Generals Crittenden and Carroll drank heavily before and during the council. During the meeting the word "Kentucky" was established as the password for the operation. The unfortunate choice of this word would have a dire impact on events.

Brigadier General William Henry Carroll was born probably in 1810 in Nashville, Tennessee. He was a plantation owner in Panola County, Mississippi and served as the postmaster for Memphis, Tennessee. He entered Confederate service as the Colonel of the 37th Tennessee. Promotion to Brigadier came on October 26, 1861.

The council decided on the following line of march: the First Brigade, General Felix Zollicoffer commanding, led by independent Tennessee cavalry companies of Captain T. C. Sanders and Captain W. S. Bledsoe would be first. The First Brigade's column consisted of the 15th Mississippi, Lieutenant Colonel Edward C. Walthall commanding, the 19th Tennessee under Colonel David H. Cummings, the 20th Tennessee of Colonel Joel A. Battle, the 25th Tennessee, Colonel S. S. Stanton in command, and the four guns of Captain A. M. Rutledge's battery. The Second Brigade of General William H. Carroll was next. Their position in line started approximately one mile behind the First Brigade. Their order of march was the 17th Tennessee, Lieutenant Colonel T. C. H. Miller commanding, the 28th Tennessee of Colonel John P. Murray, the 29th Tennessee led by Colonel Samuel Powell and then two guns of Captain McClung's battery. In the rear, 600 paces behind the Second Brigade, were the 16th Alabama of Colonel William B. Wood, the 4th Tennessee battalion of cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel B. M. Branner in command and finally, the 5th Tennessee battalion of cavalry belonging to Lieutenant Colonel George R. McClellan.

Shortly after midnight Sunday, January 19, 1862 the Confederates formed for the upcoming march. As the march began it started to rain, a cold intermittent drizzle interrupted by occasional downpours. General Zollicoffer's brigade led the 4,000-man column as it slipped and groped its way up the Mill Springs road leading from Breech Grove toward Logan's Cross Roads. The road was narrow and twisting. Flanked by dense woods, there was little room for maneuvering. Crittenden had hoped to catch Thomas by surprise, but Union cavalry pickets were sent out to prevent just such a plan.

Just after daybreak, about 6:30 A.M., Sanders' Tennessee cavalry encountered the pickets of Wolford's 1st Kentucky Cavalry (the Wild Riders) and the 10th Indiana. Sergeant George Thrasher of Company C, 1st Kentucky Cavalry, fired the first shot at the approaching Rebels. The other pickets from Company C commenced firing in support of Thrasher. Brigadier General Zollicoffer responded by quickly advancing his infantry. The battle commenced. The 15th Mississippi and 20th Tennessee formed the front rank with the 20th on the right. The 19th Tennessee proceeded to the left of the road and in advance of the 15th and 20th regiments. Rutledge's battery unlimbered in the road behind the center of the line.

Colonel Frank Wolford awoke to the sound of the picket firing and rushed Lieutenant Jonathan Miller and Company H to support the pickets. Within minutes of joining the pickets in the fight, Lieutenant Miller was wounded. Sergeant J. E. Chilton carried the wounded Miller into a nearby ravine that offered some protection. After the battle, members of Company H searched for the injured Lieutenant and found his dead body. He had bled to death while the fighting raged around him.

Wolford next sent word of the Rebels approach to Colonel Mahlon D. Manson, commander of the Second Brigade, then proceeded with the remainder of his 1st Kentucky Cavalry to support the pickets. Colonel Manson ordered his 10th Indiana with Lieutenant Colonel William Kise as acting commander, and the 4th Kentucky, commanded by Colonel Speed Smith Fry, to form in the road and contest the Confederates advance. Colonel Manson personally reported this information to General Thomas. Thomas immediately sent Manson to rejoin his brigade with orders to hold the Rebs in check, while he ordered up the his remaining units. The Union regiments available were Acting Brigadier General Samuel Cater's Twelfth Brigade consisting of the 1st Tennessee, Colonel Robert K. Byrd commander, the 2nd Tennessee under Colonel J. P. T. Carter and the 12th Kentucky led by Colonel William A. Hoskins. The Third Brigade, commanded by Colonel Robert McCook, had his own 9th Ohio, with Major Kammerling as acting commander and the 2nd Minnesota of Colonel Horatio P. Van Cleve. In camp were also three companies of Michigan Engineers under Lieutenant Colonel K. A. Hunton and Company A of the 38th Ohio with Captain Charles Greenwood commanding. Thomas' forces numbered approximately 4,000 soldiers, as did their Confederate opponents. Mill Springs is one of the few civil war battles in which both sides were numerically equal. The battalion of Michigan engineers and Company A of the 38th Ohio were assigned to guard the camp.

Two Confederate soldiers, Charles and James Frierson of Company F 15th Mississippi were so impressed with their efforts on this day that in writing home the 4,000 Union soldiers appeared as considerably more. Charles claimed that while they had anticipated attacking only three regiments, the Yankees had 25,000 men on the field. James, his brother, wrote that the 15th singlehandedly fought 36,000 Yankees for three hours and fifteen minutes. As you see, there is nothing as reliable as an eyewitness account.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Walthall's 15th Mississippi drove the Union pickets from a house on the west side of the Mill Springs Road about 1 mile south of the Union camps. The 15th Mississippi then took cover behind a fence line on the east side of the road. Darkened skies, mist and smoke prevented any clear view of the action. Suddenly out of the mist, Walthall detected a body of unknown troops only yards away. "What troops?," he called. "Kentucky!" came back the reply. Hearing the password for the operation, Walthall directed the colors of the 15th be unfurled only to be raked by fire from Wolford's 1st Kentucky Cavalry. Walthall escaped but his aid Lieutenant Harrington fell dead, riddled with 20 Minie balls.

Walthall's Mississippians and Colonel Joel Battle's 20th Tennessee now joined forces for a determined charge. With the Rebel yell ringing in their ears, the Union pickets retreated rapidly before the overwhelming force of Confederates. Colonel Cummings kept pace and advanced his 19th Tennessee up the west side of the road to a bend, then crossed the road and formed in front of Walthall and Battle. The Rebels pressed their advance after the retreating pickets overrunning the camp of Wolford's 1st Kentucky. In the initial hour of the fighting the Rebels managed to advance nearly a mile from the fence, across the draw, and into Logan's cornfield. This proved to be their high-water mark for the day as they reached the southern edge of the 10th Indiana's camp.

On hearing the intense firing up ahead, General Carroll ordered his Second Brigade to double-quick forward stopping at the brow of a hill about 1/2 mile behind Zollicoffer's brigade. They spread out in a line of battle at this point. The 28th Tennessee of Colonel Murray formed on the right, Lieutenant Colonel Miller led his 17th Tennessee to the left, and Colonel Powell's 29th Tennessee aligned in the rear of the 28th Tennessee. Wood's 16th Alabama regiment constituted the general reserve and halted about 100 paces to the rear. Finally, McClung's two guns remained at the end of the column. Branner's cavalry posted on the left rear to watch the more vulnerable flank. The right flank being protected by the terrain. After posting his brigade, Carroll rode forward to meet General Crittenden and to receive orders.

Once joined, the battle developed into a series of seesaw attacks with each regiment probing for a weak spot in the enemies position. After the first hour the initiative passed to the Federals. Eastham Tarrant of Wolford's command recorded that the sound of the musketry reminded him of the sound of the roaring wind in a heavy rainstorm. Rain, mist, smoke and dense underbrush obscured the events on the field. Directing the battle became a matter of guesswork. The fiercest part of the battle raged in a cornfield east of where the Zollicoffer monument stands today. There is a deep ravine southeast of this cornfield where the Confederates sought cover. The Union troops took position behind a fence to the northwest. The best estimate is that 200 yards separated the antagonists.

Fry and Wolford rallied their troops and checked the Rebel advance. Colonel Manson, commanding the hard-pressed Second Brigade, galloped to Thomas' headquarters to give a brief appraisal of the battle's progress, then rode back to his men. He found Thomas dressed in a new uniform, this was the first time he had worn the uniform of a general.

Speed Fry
Around 7:00 A.M., a brief lull occurred in the firing. Colonel Speed Fry of the 4th Kentucky moved beyond the fence and up the hill into a copse of trees. There, sitting on a horse, was a dignified officer who spoke to Fry about the danger of friendly fire. Zollicoffer had just watched the 19th Tennessee rake the 4th Kentucky with a heavy volley. Believing that both units were Confederates, he had ordered the 19th Tennessee to cease firing before he rode forward and encountered Speed Fry on the crest of the hill. Although Fry did not know it, he now faced the man who would forever leave his stamp on the legend and lore of this part of Kentucky. In the mist and smoke, Zollicoffer had become disoriented. Pointing to the 4th Kentucky he yelled to Fry, "Those are our men!" Suddenly a rebel officer rode up and screamed, "General, it's the enemy! " At this point Fry wheeled his horse around and fled down the hill, however, he turned and fired his pistol as he did so. Simultaneously the 4th Kentucky let loose a volley. The dignified officer in a white canvas raincoat, slumped from his horse, probably dead on the spot. Major H.M.R. Fogg, his aide, collapsed with a mortal wound from the same volley. Fry did not learn until later that he had met General Zollicoffer, and perhaps had fired the fatal shot. Private Thomas C. Potter of Battery B wrote in a letter, "I was within rods of Zollicoffer when he fell and cut three buttons from his coat."

When General Thomas reached the field, approximately one and a half hours after the initial picket contact, he found the 10th Indiana formed in front of their encampment, apparently awaiting orders. The 4th Kentucky was the only entire regiment engaged. Fry had counterattacked, driving the Rebels back across Logan's field. So Thomas sent the 10th forward to their support. He then moved forward to survey the enemy's position. On reaching the line of the 4th Kentucky, at a point where the road forks leading to Somerset, Thomas found the enemy advancing through a cornfield attempting to gain the left of the 4th Kentucky. Thomas hurried an aide to bring up a section of artillery, Standart's Battery B of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery, along with the 1st and 2nd Tennessee regiments. The artillery and their supporting infantry took a position on the Union left. Thomas then sent orders for Colonel Robert McCook to advance the Third Brigade consisting of McCook's own 9th Ohio and Colonel Van Cleve's 2nd Minnesota, to the right flank of the 4th Kentucky and the 10th Indiana.

A section of artillery, Captain Dennis Kenny, Jr.'s Battery C 1st Ohio Light Artillery, unlimbered at the edge of the field on the 4th Kentucky's left. This battery opened an effective fire lobbing fifty-six rounds into the Southern positions pinning their heads down. William Standart's Batttery B added another twenty rounds.

Horatio P. Van Cleve
Colonel H. P. Van Cleve reported to General Thomas for orders. Thomas directed Van Cleve to replace the 4th Kentucky and 10th Indiana with the troopers of his 2nd Minnesota for those regiments were nearly out of ammunition. Simultaneously, McCook's 9th Ohio came into position on the right of the road. Company K was directed to form a skirmish line in the woods to the right to protect that flank. During this advance, Colonel McCook went down with a severe wound in his right leg below the knee.

To avenge their fallen leader, the 15th Mississippi and the 20th Tennessee pushed a determined charge into the ranks of the 4th Kentucky. General Crittenden, after learning of Zollicoffer's death, assigned his brigade to Colonel Cummings. His efforts to reverse the events of the day failed as the Union reinforcements forced the 19th Tennessee to fall back in confusion. Union fire at this time severely wounded Colonel S.S. Stanton of the 25th Tennessee adding to the confusion as they advanced on the Confederate right. This regiment then ceased firing for fear of hitting Battle's regiment. Confusion fell over the Confederates.

General Carroll received orders to advance a regiment to the support of the 15th Mississippi. So he directed Colonel Murray's 28th Tennessee to perform this duty. In response, they descended to the base of the hill. When a regiment of Union cavalry began a flanking movement to the right, Murray shifted his regiment to engage the flanking unit.

The charge of the 15th Mississippi and the 20th Tennessee reach to within ten feet of the Union troops. Each was on opposite sides of the split rail fence. Some combatants poked the rifles at each other through the rails. By now the two Union Tennessee regiments with the help of the 12th Kentucky flanked Walthall and Battle on their right, making it impossible for the Rebels to maneuver. The rain played havoc with the Southern firearms. One estimate was that a quarter of Crittenden's men had weapons that failed to fire because of the dampness. The dense underbrush negated the value of the Confederate artillery. Even though scarring can be seen on the sassafras tree, from the Confederate guns, in Zollicoffer Park. Uneven terrain hindered Crittenden's efforts to coordinate the movements of his two brigades. In the confusion, the drunken Crittenden failed to order two of his regiments (the 25th and 29th Tennessee) into battle. These men waited in the woods until the battle was nearly over. Sanders, the cavalry officer, felt that Crittenden should have used his mounted unit more effectively, but the deep ravine on the southeast corner of the field and the dense woods prevented the use of cavalry to any advantage. Speculation says that had Crittenden attacked early in the battle with both Zollicoffer's and Carroll's brigades he could have routed the Union forces by hitting the camp of the 10th Indiana.

About 9:00 A.M. Thomas made his master stroke. Earlier he had begun to move Colonel Robert McCook's 9th Ohio through a field and into the woods west of the Mill Springs Road. The 9th Ohio was in an excellent position to flank Carroll's brigade. Bursting out of the woods the "Bully Dutchmen" of the 9th slammed into the Confederate left. Major Kammerling, who assumed command when Colonel McCook was wounded, directed the assault. The 2nd Minnesota now moved against the Rebel center. With this combined attack even Battle and Walthall began to withdraw. Carroll ordered the 29th Tennessee which was supporting the 28th Tennessee to meet the Union flanking maneuver. During the movement, Colonel Powell was wounded and forced to leave the field. Major Horace Rice assumed command. The 29th Tennessee was only engaged for 10 minutes before joining the panicked retreat of the other Confederate units. The attack of the 9th Ohio and 2nd Minnesota effectively ended the battle of Mill Springs.

But there was one final personal tragedy left to be played out. As the 2nd Minnesota closed in on the Confederate center, Lieutenant Balie Peyton tried to rally Company A of the 20th Tennessee, but his men, tired of fighting, fled the field. Though no one followed, he gallantly charged the advancing Union lines with his revolver blazing. He fell dead in a matter of seconds.

After the battle, Eastham Tarrant of Wolford's Union "Wild Riders" noted the ground was churned up by the gunfire and by the shells from Kenny's battery. Fences were riddled with bullets and underbrush was stripped of bark to its whiteness by the ferocious fire. Tarrant counted the bodies of 85 dead about the field with many of them contorted into hideous positions.

The 16th Alabama of Colonel Wood held in reserve during the battle now advanced to protect the withdrawal of the 15th Mississippi and the 20th Tennessee. This duty they performed with little trouble, for the Union forces were slow in arranging for the pursuit of the departing Rebels.

The Confederates retreated to their prepared fortifications at Beech Grove arriving around 3:00 P.M. A few miles in the rear of the battlefield, a small force of cavalry drew up near the road, but a few shots from the Federal artillery, a section of Standart's battery, dispersed them. No additional rear guard confrontations occurred until the Union forces approached the Beech Grove encampment.

Around 5:00 P.M., the Union forces approached to within a mile of the Rebel works and commenced a vigorous cannonade, which according to General Crittenden would have driven his troops out had not the onset of night prevented an attack. A council of the officers present decided that the Rebel position was untenable and decided to withdraw across the river.

The Union troops formed in line of battle and advanced to the summit of Moulden's Hill. Thomas directed that a cannonade of the Rebel entrenchments commence. This was done by Standart's and Wetmore's batteries. Kenny's battery preceded to the extreme left at the Russell house. From this position he fired on the ferry used to cross the retreating Rebels.

Having but one small boat to transport the entire force, Crittenden decided to leave the camp equipage along with two of McClung's artillery pieces and nearly all the cavalry and artillery horses and mules. Some horses did manage to swim the river, but many drowned in the attempt.

By daylight the entire command was on the south side of the river. Captain Spiller, of the cavalry, commanded the ferry during the evacuation operation and was largely responsible for the success of the crossing. He also took responsibility for the destruction of the boats and barges afterward. The stern-wheeler Noble Ellis and the other small boats or barges were burned to prevent Thomas from continuing pursuit. When the Confederate troops realized the position they were in with no supply line and the Kentucky winter making road transportation next to impossible, they became apprehensive of their destruction, not from the Union forces, but from famine. The surrounding country could produce little in the way of supplies. Panic ensued and many soldiers deserted fleeing in all directions. Crittenden marched what remained of his army to Gainesborough, 80 miles down river, the nearest point where river communication with Nashville was available.

Colonel Manson's Second Brigade, the 10th Indiana, 4th and 10th Kentucky and the 14th Ohio, took position on the left near Kenny's battery and made preparations for the assault on the entrenchments in the morning. The 14th Ohio, Colonel Steedman, and the 10th Kentucky, Colonel Harlan, did not participated in the battle of the 19th, but arrived in time for the pursuit, were placed in front. They were the first to enter the Rebel encampment and discovered the Confederates gone. General Schoepf arrived on the night of the 19th with his First Brigade, the 17th, 31st, and 38th Ohio regiments. They entered the entrenchments with Manson's brigade.

On Monday, January 20, a reporter from the "Cincinnati Commercial" explored the Mill Springs battlefield. He found himself in the enemy works at Beech Grove, known as Zollicoffer's Den. From here he wrote a long column beginning with these words, "Here I sit in a cedar log cabin, inside the entrenchments of the wonderful position of old 'Zolly' to write you a letter on contraband paper, with a contraband pen and contraband ink" He continued to describe finding Zollicoffer's body "Of course, in all battles, somebody must be killed, and somebody must be wounded; this was no exception to the general rule. I shall mention only one of the dead - that one Zollicoffer. He lay by the side of the road along which we passed and all had a fair view of what was once Zollicoffer. I saw the lifeless body as it lay in a fence corner by the side of the road, but Zollicoffer himself is now in hell. Hell is a fitting abode for all such arch-traitors. May all other chief conspirators in this rebellion soon share the fate of Zollicoffer - shot dead through the instrumentality of an avenging God - their spirits sent straight way to hell, and their lifeless bodies lie in a fence corner, their faces spattered with mud, and their garments divided up, and even the hair on their heads cut off and pulled out by an unsympathizing soldiery of a conquering army, battling for the right."

In closing his long report at 3:00 a.m. Tuesday morning the reporter reflected with an odd slant on the battle. "This victory cannot be credited to the skill of a Brigadier-General. The battle was entirely accidental; the position was entirely a chance position, and the men themselves, had by their Colonels fought the battle, and won it. The 10th Indiana got into the fight supporting their pickets, the 4th Kentucky and the 9th Ohio rushed in, without orders, to support the 10th. If the 2nd Minnesota had orders to go in I do not know. If these brigadier-generals must be paid big wages by the government, why, just pay them, and let them stay at home, for they are of no earthly use among us. Let the men go ahead, and wind up this war; it can be done in two months. Secret - DO SOMETHING."

According to local accounts, Zollicoffer's body was taken to the Fox house in Somerset. The Fox house situated on Gibson Court in Somerset serves as a day care center and the rectory of the Episcopal Church located next door. It was likely here that Doctor Daniel Bonapart Cliffe embalmed the body. The remains were transported to Nashville accompanied by Doctor Cliffe, who never returned to the army becoming quite disenchanted with the Confederacy and war-making. Crittenden's drunken behavior probably attributed to this decision. Doctor Cliffe would also embalm the body of Colonel William Shy after his death during the Battle of Nashville in December, 1864. Zollicoffer is buried in City Cemetery in Nashville.

The casualties for each side - Confederate 125 killed, 309 wounded and 99 missing. Total 532. Union 40 killed, 207 wounded and 15 missing. Total 262. The Union forces collected 14 pieces of artillery, some 1,000 horses and mules, the entire camp equipage together with 150 wagons, arms, ammunition and other commissary stores.

The results of this first major Federal victory were substantial. This battle along with the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson in February, resulted in the evacuation of the Kentucky defensive line. The Confederates fell back as far as southern Tennessee in the east and to northern Mississippi in the west. All of Kentucky and most of Tennessee were now in Union hands. On the personal side, Brigadier General Thomas was promoted to Major General. His career after Mill Springs is well known. Colonel Fry was promoted to Brigadier General on March 21, 1862. He followed Thomas to Shiloh but saw no action. At Stone's River he would command a division but again saw limited action as most of his troops were detained at Gallatin, Tennessee. The remainder of his career was served in garrison duty mostly at Camp Nelson in Kentucky. Many Southerners considered him a murderer. He mustered out of Federal service on August 24, 1865 but was never awarded the customary brevet to major general. Colonel Mahlon Manson was promoted to Brigadier General on March 24, 1862. He was severely wounded at Resaca, Georgia in May of 1864 which would lead to his resignation on December 21, 1864. Colonel Wolford spent most of 1862 and 63 chasing the Confederate raider Morgan with little success. In 1864 he was dishonorably discharged from the Army for criticizing Lincoln's emancipation policy. Brigadier General Schoepf returned to the Patent Office after the war and retired from Federal service as Chief Examiner of Patents.

The Confederates did not fair as well. General Crittenden was accused of drunkenness and would resign his commission in October, 1862. Brigadier General Carroll was later criticized by General Bragg, who declared him to be "not safe to intrust with command." He was arrested by General Hardee on Bragg's orders for drunkenness, incompetency and neglect. After a court of inquiry he resigned on February 1, 1863. Carroll moved to Canada where his family fled following the fall of Memphis and died in Montreal on May 3, 1868. Lieutenant Colonel Walthall was promoted to brigadier general for his actions.

Finally, the "Zollie" tree still survives. An offspring of the tree, now fifty years old, is located in the Louisville Zoo. The trunk, except for a three to four feet section stolen by someone the day the tree fell, the branches and even the leaves are preserved in a barn. Desksets, bookmarks and other items will be sold later to raise funds for the Mill Springs Battlefield Association. Nearly 300 seedlings were raised this past year from acorns from the tree, but only a dozen managed to survive the winter. One of these will be planted in the heart of the old tree.

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