The battle of Mill Springs, KY should more properly be named after Logan's Crossroads, as Mill Springs is on the other side of the Cumberland river, 10 miles from the primary battle site. Today Logan's Crossroads is called Nancy and is located 8 miles west of Somerset at the intersection of highways 80 and 235. It was the first major Union Victory of the Civil War and was part of the struggle for the control of Cumberland Gap on the far right of the Confederate western theater which stretched from eastern Kentucky to Columbus, Ky. on the Mississippi River. Cumberland Gap was the main pass in the Cumberland Mountains between East Tennessee (rich in salt and essential metals for weapons production) and Kentucky. East Tennessee was also largely in favor of remaining in the Union, and Jefferson Davis was determined to prevent it from seceding from the Confederacy. A lot of Unionists in East Tennessee were hanged in order to prevent the establishment of such a dangerous precedent. Note that the battle map indicates among the Union forces the 4th and 12th Kentucky and the 2nd Tennessee brigades. They were all volunteers.
The overall Confederate commander of this theater was Albert Sydney Johnston who initially had very few forces with which to defend this huge area. Kentucky had been swept out of its position of "armed neutrality" into contested occupation when Gen. Leonidas Polk, without orders, crossed from Tennessee into Kentucky to take Columbus on the Mississippi on 4 Sept. 1861. Happily siezing on this pretext, the Federals then occupied Paducah and Louisville. At first all was mass confusion, bluster, and propaganda on both sides, but gradually the struggle for Kentucky and Tennessee crystallized around a few key people and armies. The outcome of this contest would determine the outcome of the Civil War.
At the end of Nov. 1861 the Confederate general Felix Zollicoffer, former journalist, editor, and Whig politician from Tennessee, took position near Mill Springs about 70 miles northwest of Cumberland Gap with the intention of protecting the northern approach to the gap.
Although without formal military training and in poor health,
Zollicoffer had displayed initiative up to that point. On 21 Oct. 1861
his attack against
troops under Shoepf and Gerrard at Camp Wildcat (on the Wilderness Road
miles to the east of Somerset in the rugged Rockcastle Hills) was
but he was active in the repression of the Revolt of the Unionists in
Tennessee (8-18 November 1861) which broke out at the approach of
Thomas who had
been ordered to move to Knoxville. Then, on 12 Nov. 1861 Sherman
Vol. 4, page 253),
and the revolt collapsed. Three days later Sherman was replaced by
Buell. Sherman had suffered some sort of nervous breakdown
under the pressure of his one month of departmental command,
postulating that A.S. Johnston
was about to move out from Bowling Green, KY with 45,000 troops and
him, Sherman, out of Louisville into the Ohio. Johnston, however, had
15,000 troops in Bowling Green, far too few for any such offensive.
allowed Zollicoffer to advance out of the mountains, but he gravely
when he established himself opposite Mill Springs on the north
bank of the Cumberland with his back to the river.
To give him due credit, Zollicoffer had a reason for his
wanted to control both banks of the river. In a communication of
17 Nov. 1861 he wrote:
"If I can clear the banks of the Cumberland of our enemies, supplies may this winter be furnished us by boats from Nashville."
However, he didn't have the forces necessary for such an
undertaking. Worse still, the landing at Beech Grove was at the
end of a spit of hilly land with steep shoulders falling down to the
river on one side, and into White Oak Creek in a ravine on the other,
thus turning that spit into a funnel or trap for troops retreating back
to the landing. Unfortunately for his
soldiers, Zollicoffer didn't read maps, or perhaps had no
map to read. If he had, he wouldn't have put his encampment on
the north side of the river, at least not at that spot. He left himself
no margin for error whatsoever.
When George Crittenden (older brother of the Union general Thomas
son of the unionist and former Kentucky senator J. J. Crittenden)
arrived at Knoxville on 24 Nov. 1861 to take command of the district he
ordered Zollicoffer to move to a safer position on the south bank.
However, when he arrived at
Mill Springs to take charge in person on 2 Jan. 1862, he discovered
Zollicoffer had not obeyed the order, and that Thomas was approaching.
rashly decided to remain there and fight. Imperishable
glory is seldom to be won quickly through prudence. The
following dispatch, which Crittenden sent to A.S. Johnston
the evening before the battle, demonstrates that he was aware that he
in big trouble, and also that he was grasping at straws:
"I am threatened by a superior force of the enemy in front, and finding it impossible to cross the river, I will have to make the fight on the ground I now occupy.
If you can do so, I would ask that a diversion be made in my favor."
How was Johnston, 90 miles away in Bowling Green, to "make a diversion" on such short notice? Moreover, Crittenden had had time to save himself. Although he had at his disposal only a small steamboat and two flatboats to get his troops and equipment across the river again, Thomas was still pretty far away on 2 Jan. After all, Zollicoffer had got them over to the north bank somehow. Apparently Crittenden wasn't much for mapreading either. The responsibility for the debacle does not lie with Zollicoffer alone.
Thomas had just been named division commander under Buell on 2 Dec. 1861. This division was the nucleus of the later to be famous 14th Corps. It in turn had evolved from the First Kentucky Brigade which he had created and nurtured while at Camp Dick Robinson under the aegis of General Robert Anderson. Buell had ordered Thomas to drive Zollicoffer out of Kentucky, but bad weather and worse roads had slowed his approach. However, he could afford to be patient because he certainly had maps, could read them, and knew that Zollicoffer was as good as caught in a bottle. In addition, he probably had read Zollicoffer's perfervid Proclamation to the People of Kentucky and could count on him to ignore the age-old dictum that discretion is the better part of valor.
In his command Thomas also had a brigade under Hungarian born
Gen. Albin Schoepf, but it was on the other side of Fishing Creek,
because of the recent heavy rains. This slowed Thomas' concentration of
only a couple of regiments from Schoepf got to him in time to
participate in the battle. Crittenden
decided to take the initiative before Thomas could complete his
with Schoepf, and attacked Thomas' 4000 men with about
an equal number of troops early in the morning on 19 Jan. 1862. The
Confederates, having marched all night in cold, driving rain, hoped to
steal a march on Thomas, but in vain.
Thomas had thrown out several lines of pickets, and it was impossible
to surprise him (a nice touch which would have saved many Union
lives at Shiloh). It also did not help that
Crittenden's men were mostly equipped with primitive flintlock muskets
whose ability to fire suffered greatly under those conditions. Just
imagine spreading powder on a flash pan in the rain. It turned into a
confused push and shove contest between scattered units. Moreover,
trademark, the artillery, swept the field, and the Confederate
never even unlimbered. Early in the engagement Zollicoffer, who had
poor eyesight, lost his bearings
and approached the Union position thinking he was still within his
He spoke to a Union officer, Col. Fry, thinking he was a Confederate,
the Union officer replied, thinking Zollicoffer was a Federal. However,
one of Zollicoffer's aides recognized that the unit was hostile, he
fire, and Col. Fry returned fire, killing Zollicoffer. Some of
units then began to retreat. Crittenden was able to restore order, but
While green Minnesota troops kept
Crittenden engaged in the center, Thomas' experienced Ohio unit
Cincinatti who had fought in West Virginia) carried out a
counter-attack against and around Crittenden's left and crushed it.
This in turn broke the
entire Confederate line which fell back in disorder to the Cumberland.
troops pursued vigorously for 10 miles, but were held up by
fortifications at the landing. All that night Crittenden's men crossed
over to the south bank on the steamboat, leaving their heavy equipment
and wounded behind.
Most of Confederate troops then simply went home, and Crittenden's
Thomas reported 246 casualties (39 killed, 207 wounded).
This amounted to 6%, typical for battles in which Thomas commanded.
Crittenden made no report of his losses, but they are estimated at 533,
including 150 killed and 353 wounded. After the battle, amid rumors
that he had been drunk
during the battle, which may or may not have been true, or only
true, Crittenden was removed from command, and he served in no further
military capacity during the war. An aside: Getting drunk was a method
by many commanders on both sides to enable them to face battle. They
to lead from the front, a hard job.
After the battle, Thomas again proposed that he be allowed to
on Knoxville through the Cumberland Gap, but Buell had his eye on
Nashville, perhaps correctly so in view of the condition of the
mountain roads at that time of the year. A month later on 24 Feb. 1862,
Buell occupied Nashville.
It hadn't been fortified, there was no opposition, and it remained
Union control for the remainder of the war. It was the first
state capitol and major industrial center to fall, and the significance
this was not just symbolic.
With the disintegration of Crittenden's army, A.S.
Johnston's entire tenuous defensive line in Kentucky began to
unravel. Bowling Green was uncovered and therefore abandoned to
Buell without a fight on 14 Feb. 1862, and Fort Donelson, the next key
position to the west, became untenable. Buell was also approaching, and
these circumstances certainly influenced the indecisive behavior of
Pillow, Floyd, and Buckner in the face of Grant's
improvised siege which lasted from 13 to 16 Feb. 1862. I say improvised
because, in his haste to beat Buell to Ft. Donelson, Grant left his
tents, rations and winter clothing behind, and drove his men through
rain while measles and smallpox swept their ranks.
A comparison of Grant's and Thomas'
conduct of their two first battles reveals the essential features of
respective command styles - Thomas was present, sober,
prepared, shared the danger with his men, his men were healthy and
his command was harmonious, and his men were under control after the
Grant was absent, not so sober, surprised, protected from enemy fire,
men were diseased, he had dissention within his command, and his troops
the countryside after the battle. These features would repeat
in battle after battle. Grant's style won headlines, Thomas' style won
war and laid the basis for our modern army.
Another distinguishing feature of Thomas' leadership lay in the
at this battle and during the entire war, he issued no demands for
surrender, nor pompous proclamations
to the troops or the people. Thomas was all business. The comparison
conduct of the battle and that of Thomas is also revealing. An army
of the past preemptively attacked the army of the future, and lost. The
battle of Mill
Springs was, in many respects, a microcosm of the entire Civil War.
All of the stages of this battle have been clearly marked by the Mill Springs Battlefield Association
which can be contacted at 606-679-1859
or firstname.lastname@example.org .
A brochure for a self-guided tour can be picked up from a large
black mailbox in front of the Zollicoffer monument.
Other information about this battle:
1. Thomas van Horn on the battle of Mill Springs and its background
2. Excerpt from Holding Kentucky for the Union and the battle of Mill Springs by R. M. Kelly, Col., USV
Page 40 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS
THOMAS ASSIGNED TO COMMAND IN CAMP DICK ROBINSON, KY.- MAKES PREPARATIONS FOR AN ADVANCE INTO EAST TENNESSEE - REFUSES TO SERVE UNDER GENERAL 0. M. MITCHEL - REBUKES EX-GOVERNOR ANDREW JOHNSON - DOES NOT BELIEVE THAT THE ENEMY WILL ADVANCE FROM BOWLING GREEN - GAINS A VICTORY AT MILL SPRINGS - PRACTICABILITY AND ADVANTAGES OF HIS PROJECTED MOVEMENT INTO EAST TENNESSEE.
ON the 26th of August, 1861, Brigadier-General Thomas was relieved from duty under Major-General N. P. Banks, who had succeeded General Patterson, and ordered to report to General Robert Anderson, at Louisville, Kentucky. In compliance he reported on the 6th of September, and on the 12th was assigned to the command of the troops at Camp Dick Robinson, in room of Lieutenant William Nelson, U. S. Navy.
When this newly appointed brigadier entered upon his career as a
the people of the country were hardly cognizant of the fact. It
not generally known at the time that he and General Sherman had been
to Louisville at the special solicitation of General Anderson, who
had accepted what he considered a very delicate and difficult service in his native State. In the light of the subsequent service of Sherman and Thomas, the action of Anderson in connecting them with the intricate problems of the central line of invasion, through Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, was one of the most important features of his short administration as a Department Commander.
While en route from Louisville to his post General Thomas was
to personal danger from the secessionists of that region, who had been
exasperated by the
Page 41 - PREPARATIONS FOR ADVANCE
failure of their friends to withdraw Kentucky from the Union, and by the developed purpose of the National Government to establish military posts and camps in the State and conduct military operations within its limits, without regard to the sentiments of the people. Fortunately he eluded his enemies on the way, and assumed command at Camp Dick Robinson on the l5th of September. He found about six thousand partially organized troops, that had been collected together by Nelson, against the protest of both loyal and disloyal Kentuckians.
From the time of his first anticipation of service in Kentucky,
had studied plans of operations, and had soon decided that the first
in their execution should be the invasion of East Tennessee through
Gap. He was so impressed with the importance of this line of invasion,
from military considerations alone, before he left Washington, that he
urged General Scott to authorize an offensive movement on that line. He
was the more eager to conduct an expedition into East Tennessee when he
saw in his camp loyal soldiers from that region, who had fled from the
tyranny there reigning, and knew that a large part of the citizens of
section were as loyal as his Tennessee soldiers. He announced two
for his projected movement to seize and hold the only railroad that
the northern parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, and all of
with the capital of the Confederacy, and relieve from oppression the
of East Tennessee. These objects turned his face towards Cumberland Gap
at the beginning of his service in Kentucky. But from the first he met
insurmountable difficulties. His position connected him with local
and military affairs. Equipments for his troops were long withheld, and
when reenforcements were sent to him in response to his oft-repeated
calls, new regiments were sent, without complete equipments or
Another embarrassment was the impatience of the East Tennesseeans in
Page 42 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
who were annoyingly clamorous for an advance to their homes. Notwithstanding all his efforts he could not organize such an expedition as promised success. He had men, but was destitute of almost everything else that pertains to the organization of efficient regiments and brigades. He announced a brigade organization as soon as he had mustered and nominally organized a few regiments. This brigade was the first organized in Kentucky, and it was historically meet that the general who organized the brigade which became the nucleus of a grand army should, at the end of the war muster out from that army nearly two hundred thousand men.
While active in preparing for the projected advance into East
he received a letter from Brigadier-General O. M. Mitchel, commanding
Department of the Ohio, stating that he had received an order from the
Secretary of War, directing him to repair to Camp Dick Robinson and
the troops for a forward movement, first to Cumberland Gap, and
into East Tennessee. At this General Thomas was surprised and
Had he been averse, thus early in the war, to the responsibility of
troops in a bold invasion of the enemy's territory, he would have
turned over his command to General Mitchel, and as cheerfully served
him. But he perceived that he was to be superseded by a general who,
he was his senior by a few days, had no relation to the projected
He had first suggested the invasion of East Tennessee, and had done all
that had been possible to prepare for it, and he regarded the order of
the Secretary of War, relieving him from command, as evidence that it
believed at Washington that he had been needlessly tardy in executing
own plan, or as proof that for some unrevealed reason it was desirable
to put another general in his place, before it had been possible for
to prepare for so important an enterprise. He claimed that he had
a right under the circumstances
Page 43 - REFUSES TO SERVE UNDER MITCHEL.
to a fair trial, before removal, no matter what might be the
of the President and Secretary of War towards him. The reason of this
of the Secretary of War is not known to the writer, and he is not aware
that it has ever been revealed. It certainly, however, evinced
either distrust of Thomas as a general, or a want of confidence in his loyalty to the National Government. He therefore as a protest against the indignity or suspicion, requested to be relieved from duty with the troops that had been under his command, objecting, under the circumstances, to a subordinate's position in connection with them. He was eager, even at this stage of the war, to hold an independent command. This fact so strongly evincing his self-confidence was not known to the country, and his subsequent quiet submission to service under a general of absolute inferiority of rank, made the impression that from excessive modesty or lack of confidence in himself he preferred a subordinate position. It will be shown in another connection that he subsequently made emphatic protest against service under a general of inferior rank, when he considered him self entitled to the command of a large army, and failing then, he thereafter submitted to an indignity repugnant to every self-reliant soldier and abhorrent to martial traditions.
In asking to be relieved from service under General Mitchel, Thomas placed his case on a higher plane than that of mere rank. With him it was a question of justice, in the determination of rightful command. The subjoined letters reveal his views and those of General Sherman in the premises :
HEADQ'RS CAMP DICK ROBINSON, Garrard County, Ky.,
BRIGADIER-GENERAL O. M. MITCHEL, Com'd'gDep't of the Ohio, Cincinnati, O.
"GENERAL: Your communication of the loth instant was received to-day at the hands of Governor Johnson. I have been doing all in my power to prepare the troops for a move on Cumberland Ford, and to seize the Tennessee and Virginia Railroad, and shall continue
Page 44 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
to do all I can to assist you until your arrival
but justice to myself requires that I ask to be relieved from duty with
these troops, since the Secretary of War thought it necessary to
me in command without, as I conceive, any just cause for so doing.
I am. General, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant, GEO. H. THOMAS, Brig.-Gen'l U. S. V. Com'd'g.
HEADQ'RS CAMP DICK ROBINSON, Garrard County,
Oct. li, 1861.
BRIGADIER-GENERAL W. T. SHERMAN, Com'd'g Dep't of the Cumberland, Louisville, Ky.:
GENERAL : I received an official communication to-day from Brigadier General O. M. Mitchel, informing me that he had been ordered by the Secretary of War to repair to this camp and prepare the troops for a forward movement, first to Cumberland Ford, and eventually to seize upon the Tennessee and Virginia Railroad. As I have been doing all in my power to effect this very thing, to have the execution of it taken from me when nearly prepared to take the field, is extremely mortifying. I have therefore respectfully to ask to be relieved from duty with the troops on the arrival of General Mitchel.
I am, General, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant, GEO. H. THOMAS, Brigadier-General U. S. V. Com'd'g.
GENERAL GEO. H. THOMAS, Com'd'g Camp Dick Robinson.
You are authorized to go on and prepare your command for active service. General Mitchel is subject to my orders, and I will, if possible, give you the opportunity to complete what you have begun. Of course I would do all I can to carry out your wishes, but feel that the affairs of Kentucky call for the united action of all engaged.
W. T. SHERMAN, Brig.-Gen. Com'd'g Dep't of the Cumberland.
The execution of the order of the Secretary of War might have ruined
the reputation of Thomas as a General, and deprived the country of one
of its ablest commanders. It would have produced distrust of his
or loyalty, and might have deprived him of an opportunity to reveal his
capacity as a General. The implied distrust of the authorities
Page 45 - ADVANCE OF THE ENEMY.
at Washington must have been exceedingly painful to as true and sensitive a man as Thomas. Having taken a loyal position in the National crisis with deliberation and "from a firm conviction of duty", he had a right to expect just, if not generous, treatment from the President and Secretary of War. A man less pure and strong might have I swerved from his loyalty under such provocation.
If the order for his removal from command was based upon the fact
he had not advanced far towards East Tennessee, the patience of the
authorities was to be still further tried. The barriers to an advance
multiplied quite as rapidly as preparations for it were made. The enemy
discerned the probability of such a movement, and for the double
of defeating it and supporting the cause of the Confederacy in
put columns of troops in motion towards Central Kentucky from
Ford, Barboursville and Tompkinsville. As these
movements were developed. General Thomas became more urgent for reenforcements and munitions. The very fact that the enemy had counter plans intensified in his view the importance of the movement which he had projected. To the enemy, the value of the railroad from Tennessee to Virginia was greatly enhanced by the necessity of transporting supplies from Tennessee to Richmond. He therefore made a show of aggression on Thomas's line of advance to prevent offense on his part. This appearance of offense on the part of the enemy, discouraged the loyal Tennessee troops, and caused the loyal Kentuckians to be as clamorous for defensive measures as the other class had been for an advance into East Tennessee. In the midst of these embarrassments, General Thomas' plans assumed greater breadth. As soon as practicable, he threw some of his best troops forward to Rock Castle Hills, and sent others in support as fast as possible.
The enemy's first advances were evidently tentative, as columns from
different directions would present, themselves
Page 46 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
and then withdraw. But it was soon apparent that the force before Colonel Garrard's Third Kentucky infantry, at Rock Castle Hills, under General Zollicoffer, had a more serious purpose than mere menace, and General Thomas sent Brigadier-General Schoepf, with Coburn's, Woolford's and Steedman's regiments and Standart's battery to Garrard's support. These troops reached Rock Castle Hills in time to participate in the repulse of the enemy, October 20th.
The retreat of the enemy again opened the way for an advance, and General Thomas threw forward Schoepf's command to London and asked for reenforcements, munitions and transportation. He also suggested that a cooperative force should move up the Big Sandy River, while he himself should advance by Barboursville to East Tennessee, seize the railroad and then turn upon Zollicoffer and capture him. But eager as he was to move forward he was not willing to take so great a risk without an adequate force. He waited here, though spurred by his own desire, as he often afterwards delayed, when urged by his superiors, until he could perceive the conditions of success. He thus made a reputation for slowness, but avoided the failures that ill-conditioned movements generally entailed. While waiting for adequate resources, the loyal Tennesaeeans became very impatient and almost openly mutinous. Andrew Johnson, ex-Governor of Tennessee, addressed a letter of complaint to Thomas, the purport of which is revealed by the following communications :
HEADQUARTERS CRAB ORCHARD, November 7th, 1861
GOVERNOR ANDREW JOHNSON, London, Ky.
Your favor of the 6th instant is at hand. I have done all in my power to get troops and transportation and means to advance into East Tennessee. I believe General Sherman has done the same. Up to this time we have been unsuccessful. Have you heard by what authority the troops from London were to fall back? Because I have
Page 47 - LETTER TO ANDREW JOHNSON.
not and shall not move any of them back, unless
because if am not interfered with I can have them subsisted there as
as here. I am inclined to think the rumor has grown out of the feverish
excitement, which seems to exist in the minds of some of the regiments,
that no further advance is contemplated. I can only say that I am doing
the best I can. Our commanding general is doing the same, and using all
his influence to equip a force for the rescue of East Tennessee. If the
Tennesseeans are not content and must go, then the risk of disaster
remain with them. Some of our troops are not yet clothed, and it seems
impossible to get clothing.
For information respecting the organization of regiments I send you General Orders No. 90, War Department. If the gentlemen you name can raise regiments agreeably to the conditions and instructions contained in said order, the Government will accept them, and I hope will have arms to place in their hands in the course of two or three months.
In conclusion I will add that I am here ready to obey orders, and earnestly hope that the troops at London will see the necessity of doing the same.
Your Obedient Servant, GEORGE H. THOMAS, Brigadier-General,U. S. V.
HEADQUARTERS CRAB ORCHARD, November 7th, 1861.
BRIGADIER-GENERAL SCHOEPF, Com'd'g Camp Calvert, London, Ky.
I find it necessary to reply to Governor Johnson's letter in the foregoing, which I send to you for your information. It is time that discontented persons should be silent, both in and out of the service. I sympathize most deeply with the East Tennesseeans on account of their natural anxiety to relieve their friends and families from the terrible apprehension which they are now suffering. But to make the attempt to rescue them when not half prepared is culpable, especially when our enemies are perhaps as anxious that we should make the move as the Tennesseeans themselves, for it is well known by our commanding general that Buckner has an overwhelming force within striking distance, whenever he can get us at a disadvantage. I hope you will therefore see the necessity of dealing decidedly with
Page 48 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
such people, and you have my authority and orders
doing so. We must learn to abide our time or we will never be
Respectfully Your Obedient Servant,
GEORGE H. THOMAS, Brigadier-General U. S. V.
These letters met the questions at issue fairly and with the
of a man of nerve and power. He was himself intensely eager for the
demanded by Governor Johnson and the East Tennessee troops, but he was
not prepared for a successful expedition, and was himself a
If prepared he could not have moved without orders, and without
preparations he was unwilling to advance, even if liberty had been
to him. He sympathized
with the impatient patriots, but military considerations were paramount. When it is considered that he wrote so decidedly to a man who had great political influence, there is no room to doubt his boldness in the face of threatening possibilities. Mr. Johnson may not have had a causative relation to this order from the Secretary of War, but he certainly had knowledge of it, since he bore General Mitchel's letter to General Thomas. When on his way to join the Tennessee soldiers, in Kentucky, General Thomas was bold to say to this clamorous Governor, representing a congenial constituency, that he was unwilling to move without due preparation. And as he was unwilling to move on such a condition at the beginning of the war, so he continued reluctant to initiate operations, in absence of favorable circumstances to the end of the conflict. Few, if any, subordinate commanders were more averse to action when unprepared, or more quick and forceful when preparations were sufficient.
Governor Johnson's intimation that the troops in advance were to be
withdrawn proved to be correct. General Sherman became convinced that
enemy had an overwhelming force at Bowling Green, and could advance at
pleasure. And on November 5th he wrote to General Thomas to hold
in check and await events. Thomas doubtless
Page 49 - ORDERED TO WITHDRAW HIS TROOPS
alluded to this conviction in his letter to Governor Johnson, and by the assertion that he was ready to obey orders made provision for a consistent withdrawal of his troops from London, though such a step was against his own judgment. General Sherman had not in any other way intimated to him that a retrograde movement was meditated, and he hoped that it would not be required. But on the l1th he was ordered by General Sherman to withdraw his troops across the Kentucky River, as it was probable that Zollicoffer had twenty thousand men. The next day Sherman announced that he was convinced that General Albert Sidney Johnston who was then in command of the Confederate forces in Kentucky and Tennessee, intended to advance with an army of about forty-five thousand men between General Thomas at Crab Orchard and General A. McD. \McCook at Nolensville, on the Louisville and Nashville railroad, with Louisville and Cincinnati as his objectives; and he directed Thomas to hold himself in readiness to withdraw to a point back of Danville, with the greater part of his troops, leaving the remainder at Rock Castle Hills. General Thomas in reply expressed his want of faith in General Johnston's aggressive purpose, since his own information indicated that the enemy in his front was withdrawing, and no such movement had been discerned by his scouts.
The withdrawal of Thomas' forces caused great suffering and loss of
men and material. Sickness was prevalent and the march was a hurried
As it was not generally known at the time who was responsible for the
censure was heaped upon him. Correspondents and critics
depicted the sufferings of the men, and the loss of material, and discerning no compensative results, attempted to balance accounts with abuse of Thomas. Under this abuse and misrepresentation he was silent, waiting as at other times for "time and history to do him justice."
This was the situation when General D. C. Buell assumed.
Page 50 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
command of the department on the 15th of November. Five days later the new commander ordered General Thomas to move his command to Columbia, and subsequently directly to Lebanon. At this time General Johnston had fifteen thousand men at Bowling Green, and conjecture had magnified his force threefold. General Buell lost no time in concentrating his troops at first for defense, and subsequently for aggression. He did not approve of an advance into East Tennessee, but proposed for himself a movement upon Nashville, whenever his strength should warrant such a step. Preparations for this movement upon Nashville virtually defeated the East Tennessee expedition, although efforts were subsequently made to set it on foot.
The withdrawal of the greater part of Thomas' command changed for
worse the situation in Eastern Kentucky, besides neutralizing the
expedition into East Tennessee. General Zollicoffer was swift to
accept the invitation for renewed aggression, given by the withdrawal
the troops from London, and Crab Orchard, and advanced against
In less than a week after he left Danville, General Thomas was informed
by Lieutenant Carter, U. S. N., commanding a brigade of East Tennessee
troops that had been permitted by General Buell to remain at London,
the enemy was advancing in heavy force against Somerset, then held by a
single regiment. Carter also stated that he could not leave his
to render assistance. Thereupon General Thomas ordered Schoepf's
brigade from Lebanon, and Wolford's cavalry from Columbia, to Somerset.
He subsequently ordered regiments from the rear to the same place, but
his orders were countermanded by General Buell, who also forbade him to
send other reenforcements without his authority. As he entertained a
view of the situation at Somerset, and was intent upon advancing in
direction, he declared that Schoepf's force was sufficient.
Soon after the enemy crossed the Cumberland River, and
Page 51 - HE ADVANCES TOWARDS SOMERSET,
then General Thomas asked permission to go to Lebanon with reenforcements, but General Buell refused with the remark that he would not be "diverted more than was necessary from more important matters by the annoying affairs at Somerset." Thomas was thus not only thwarted in the invasion of East Tennessee, but was also restrained from reenforcing his subordinate at Somerset.
He was now in command of the First division of the Army of the Ohio--the new designation of General Buell's forces. This division* comprised sixteen regiments of infantry, a regiment and a squadron of cavalry, and three batteries of artillery, and was consequently a little army in itself; but its component parts were widely scattered, and its commander for some time was forbidden to unite them.
When, however, General Buell learned that the enemy was fortifying on the north bank of the Cumberland River, near Somerset, he directed Thomas, December 29th, to move to the vicinity of Zollicoffer's position, communicate with General Schoepf, and organize a combined attack by Schoepf in front, and Thomas himself on the enemy's left flank. These instructions prescribed a plan of battle, in outline at least; but this plan, made from distant view and on conjectural grounds, did not provide for the actual conditions.
General Thomas began his march December 31st and after eighteen days
of necessarily slow movement, in almost constant rain and over almost
roads, reached Logan's Cross Roads, ten miles distant from the enemy's
position. His orders required a conjunction with Schoepf before he
attack the enemy. He therefore halted his command, disposed his
regiments on two adjacent roads, one leading directly to the enemy's
and the other running thither from Somerset. He placed
* For details of organization see Hist. Army of the Cumberland, Vol.
I, page 51
Page 52 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
detachments of cavalry and infantry far to the front to guard against a surprise. The problem of uniting two columns in the face of a concentrated enemy then demanded solution. Having selected the proper place, from the direction of the roads, for the conjunction of his forces, either for an advance against the enemy or for defense in the event of an attack by him, he communicated with General Schoepf and directed him to send three regiments to his position before the enemy. These dispositions made it possible for him to win a victory the next day in a battle opened by the foe. These dispositions were judicious in their relation to his own contemplated attack, and equally so for the defensive action that was forced upon him. The great general is he who can make provision for all possibilities, and this Thomas did throughout the war, whenever he was free to act upon his own judgment.
The commanders of the Confederate army, Generals George B.
and Zollicoffer, were aware of the approach of General Thomas, and left
their entrenchments at Beech Grove, in hope of crushing him before he
obtain support from Somerset, or be able to concentrate his forces
from Lebanon. The enemy moved from his fortifications so early in the
of January 19th, that he marched the intervening ten miles, and
Thomas' cavalry pickets at 5.30 A. M. But there was no surprise. The
retired slowly, and then the two foremost regiments held the enemy in
until General Thomas was in person on his line of battle, where he
other regiments as they arrived. When he had eight regiments and two
on hand, he pressed the enemy in a brilliant charge, and drove him in
to his intrenchments. As the pursuit began, Colonel Steedman and
Harlan from the rear, with their regiments, the Fourteenth Ohio and
Kentucky, and Schoepf, with his brigade, reached the field.
were made to attack the enemy in his entrenchments on the 20th; but
the night he crossed the river and escaped.
Page 53 - MILL SPRINGS.
In this first successful western battle, fought upon a plan
under the emergency of an attack by superior forces, every movement
first to last was a harmonious part of an action which was fought under
circumstances that would have brought defeat had they not been clearly
perceived and provided for by General Thomas. Seeing that his four
regiments were not safe without support which could be obtained from
before his rear forces could arrive, he gave such orders to Schoepf as
brought three regiments under Carter to the left of the line of battle,
formed by the two foremost regiments, the Tenth Indiana and Fourth
at the moment the enemy was moving to outflank and turn the left of the
line. Two other regiments were at hand - the Second Minnesota and Ninth
Ohio - to take the place of the Fourth Kentucky and Tenth Indiana, at
moment of the exhaustion of their ammunition; and the decisive charge,
fully supported, was made at the first moment that success was
And by this charge the battle was won. There was no slowness on the
of Thomas in his first battle, since with unsurpassed quickness he
for every contingency, and by one blow which was made possible by
dispositions, gained a brilliant victory. And he did this while
his soldiers by his own presence on the line of battle and by his
exposure to a common danger. His conduct of this battle was a
of deliberate strategy and tactical dispositions, with the quick
that comes to great generals in trying emergencies. If measured by the
number of troops engaged - on one side only eight regiments* -- it was
not a great battle; but if estimated by its harmonies and its unity of
force, it was indeed a great action. And on the part of the commander,
there was no balancing of forces for attack and
* Fourth Kentucky, Tenth Indiana, Second Minnesota, Ninth Ohio,
Second East Tennessee, Twelfth Kentucky, and Kinney's Battery.
Page 54 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
reserve, for all were for attack, and support came when support was needed. Raw troops were inspired to resist and charge with the steadiness of veterans. The final charge, indeed, evinced the spirit of soldiers made bold by frequency of victory, rather than the usual timidity of untried recruits. The enemy was outflanked by an unsupported line of battle, and routed by inferior forces. Beyond its conduct and forceful operations, the battle should be measured by its moral effect and its agency in deranging the enemy's defensive plans. Hitherto the National forces had not gained an important victory in the West, although large armies had been concentrated. Owing to an exaggerated estimate of the enemy's strength in Kentucky, there had been no aggression of importance by the National troops. And this battle, which was only incidental, as far as the great plans and purposes of General Johnston and General Buell were concerned, was the only positive victory won in Kentucky during the war, although large armies subsequently marched and maneuvered in that State. The people of the West, whose patriotism had filled Kentucky with citizen soldiers, and whose hopes had been paralyzed by deferred success, were restored to faith in the triumph of the National cause by the victory at Logan's Cross Roads - an action designated by the enemy as the "Battle of Fishing Creek," and by ourselves as "Mill Springs."
By this action the right of the enemy's defensive line was
broken, and about ten thousand men eliminated from the operations which
immediately followed. In the life of General Albert Sidney Johnston, by
his son, Prof. Wm. Preston Johnston, it is shown that General
crossed the river without orders, and in like manner the battle of Mill
Springs was fought. General Johnston had been concealing his weakness
months by every artifice possible; and had the forces on his right been
successful, it would not have enabled him to assume the offensive in
other direction. But the temporary disintegration of
Page 55 - COMPLIMENTARY ORDERS.
one-fourth of his entire force imperiled his defensive line, whose centre was at Bowling Green and left at Columbus, Kentucky.
General Buell issued the following order in relation to the action at Logan's Cross Roads :
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE OHIO, Louisville,
January 23, 1862.
General Orders No. 40.
The General commanding has the gratification of announcing the achievement of an important victory on the 19th inst., at Mill Springs, by the troops under General Thomas, over the rebel forces, some twelve thousand strong, under Gen. Geo. B. Crittenden and Gen. Zollicoffer.
The defeat of the enemy was thorough and complete, and his loss in killed and wounded was great. Night alone, under cover of which his troops crossed the river from his intrenched camp and dispersed, prevented the capture of his entire force. Fourteen or more pieces of artillery, some fifteen hundred horses and mules, his entire camp equipage, with wagons, arms, ammunition, and other stores to a large amount, fell into our hands.
The General commanding has been charged by the
to convey his thanks to General Thomas and his troops for their
victory. No task could be more grateful to him, seconded as it is by
own cordial approbation of their conduct.
By command of Brig. Gen. Buell,
(Signed.) JAMES B. FRY, A.A.G. Chief of Staff.
The President of the United States also issued a complimentary order:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, Jan. 26,1862.
The President, commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, has received information of a brilliant victory achieved by the United States forces over a large body of armed traitors and rebels at Mill Springs in the State of Kentucky.
He returns thanks to the gallant officers and
who won that victory, and when official reports shall be received, the
military skill and personal valor displayed in the battle will be
and rewarded in a fitting manner.
Page 56 - LIFE OF GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS.
The courage that encountered and vanquished the
superior numbers of the rebel force, pursued and attacked them in their
intrenchments, and paused not until the enemy was completely
routed, merits and receives commendation.
The purpose of this war is to attack and destroy a rebellious enemy and to deliver the country from the danger menaced by traitors. Alacrity, daring courageous spirit and patriotic zeal, on all occasions and under all circumstances, will be expected of the Army of the United States.
In the prompt and spirited movements and daring battle of Mill Springs, the Nation will realize its hopes, and the people of the United States will rejoice to honor every soldier and officer who proves his courage by charging with the bayonet and storming intrenchments, or in the blaze of the enemy's fire.
By order of the President.
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War
On the 28th of January, the Legislature of Ohio passed a vote of thanks to General Thomas and his troops.
It is justly a matter of surprise that when the official reports of
the battle of Mill Springs were received at Washington, there was no
recognition of the services of General Thomas. The complimentary order
did not mention him as commander, and notwithstanding the President's
promise of fitting recognition and reward to those who displayed skill
and personal valor, it was never fulfilled in respect to the one of all
others who displayed these soldierly traits. General Thomas earned
in this battle; but he waited long for it. Other generals received high
rank before they fought battles. Some were promoted for comparatively
achievements. But for unexplained reasons, Thomas' case was made an
to a general rule which obtained at least during the earlier stages of
the war. Report and conjecture attributed the treatment of Thomas to
fact that he was a native of Virginia. The words attributed to the
"He is a Virginian, let him wait," was the accepted explanation at the
time. Had he then been appointed a major-general, he would have
Page 57 - HIS GENERALSHIP INWROUGHT.
taken rank above both Grant and Buell, and would have been entitled
to an independent command early in the war. He deserved such a
because he was then a general of the highest type, and perhaps as
of his power, when in person he aligned his troops at Mill Springs as
at Nashville he fought the most brilliant battle of the war. And the
that he was a native of the South only enhanced his claim for
as a loyal general. His generalship was not evolved by costly mistakes.
It was not battle-wrought in any sense. But it was inwrought in the man
himself by the combination of all the qualities of a great captain,
by twenty years of self-imposed professional study. And he who
analyzes his services, in his subordination to others and in his
as an army commander, will regret that the President of the United
did not do as he promised in his complimentary order.
Originally published in 1887 by Robert Underwood Johnson and
Clarence Clough Buell, editors of the "The Century Magazine".
[scanned, reformatted and corrected; illustrations and maps are ommitted]
Excerpt from HOLDING KENTUCKY FOR THE UNION [the battle of Mill Springs] by R. M. KELLY, Col., USV.
THE military situation in Kentucky in September, 1861, cannot be properly understood without a brief sketch of the initial political struggle which resulted in a decisive victory for the friends of the Union. The State Legislature had assembled on the 17th of January in called session. The governor's proclamation convening it was issued immediately after he had received commissioners from the States of Alabama and Mississippi, and was followed by the publication of a letter from Vice-President Breckinridge advising the calling of a State convention and urging that the only way to prevent war was for Kentucky to take her stand openly with the slave States. About this time the latter's uncle, the Rev. Dr. Robert J. Breckinridge, an eminent Presbyterian minister, addressed a large meeting at Lexington in favor of theUnion. The division of sentiment is further illustrated by the fact that one of his sons, Colonel W. C. P. Breckinridge, followed his cousin into the Confederate army, while another son, Colonel Joseph C. Breckinridge, fought for the Union. The position of the Union men was very difficult. They knew that Governor Maggofin was in sympathy with the secession movement and that the status of the Legislature on the question was doubtful. The governor had under his orders a military force called the State Guard, well armed and disciplined, and under the immediate command of General Simon B. Buckner, a graduate of West Point. There was a small Union element in it, but a large majority of its membership was known to be in favor of secession. Suspicious activity in recruiting for this force began as soon as the governor issued his call for the Legislature, and it was charged that new companies of known secession proclivities could get arms promptly from the State arsenal, while those supposed to be inclined toward the Union were subjected to annoying delays. The State Guard at its strongest numbered about only four thousand men, but it was organized and ready while the Union men had neither arms nor organization to oppose it.
When the Legislature assembled it was soon ascertained that it was very evenly divided in sentiment. Old party lines promptly disappeared, and members were classed as "Union" or "Southern Rights." In the Senate there was a safe majority against calling a convention. In the house on a test question the Union men prevailed by only one vote. There were some half-dozen waverers who always opposed any decisive step toward secession but were equally unwilling to give any active support to the Government. Outside pressure was brought to bear. Large delegations of secessionists assembled at Frankfort, to be speedily confronted by Union men, just as determined, summoned by telegraph from all parts of the State. Argument
was met by argument, threat by threat, appeals to sentiment and prejudice on one side by similar appeals on the other. The leading public men of the State, however, had been trained in a school of compromises, and they long cherished themselves, and kept alive in the people, the hope that some settlement would be reached that would avert war and save Kentucky from becoming the battle-field of contending armies. This hope accounts in a large degree for the infrequency of personal affrays during those exciting days.
The struggle, kept up during three sessions of the Legislature, demonstrated that the State could not be carried out of the Union by storm, and terminated in adopting the policy of neutrality as a compromise. The Union men, however, had gained some decided advantages. They had consented to large appropriations for arming the State, but on condition that the control of military affairs should be taken from the governor and lodged in a military board of five members, the majority being Union men; they provided for organizing and arming Home Guards, outside of the militia force, and not subject, as such, to the governor's orders, and they passed an act requiring all the State Guard to take the oath required of officers, this measure being mainly for the purpose of allowing the Union members of that organization to get rid of the stringent obligations of their enlistment.
As in most compromises, the terms of the neutrality compromise were differently interpreted by the parties, but with both the object was to gain time. The secessionists believed that neutrality, as they interpreted it, would educate the people to the idea of a separation from the Union and result in alliance with the new Confederacy; the Union men expected to gain time to organize their forces, elect a new legislature in sympathy with their views, and put the State decisively on the side of the Government. Events soon showed that the Union men best understood the temper of the people. The Legislature adjourned May 24th, four days after the governor had issued his neutrality proclamation. At the special congressional election, June 20th, nine Union representatives were chosen to one secessionists by an aggregate majority of over 54,000 votes. The legislative election in August resulted in the choice of a new body three-fourths of whose members in each house were Union men.
Under the first call for troops, Kentucky was required to furnish four regiments for the United States service. These Governor Moggoffin indignantly
refused to furnish. Shortly afterward he was asked by the Secretary of War of the Confederacy for a regiment. He declined this request as beyond his power to grant. His course did not suit the more ardent of the young men on either side. Blanton Duncan had already procured authority to recruit for the Confederacy, and in various portions of the State men were publicly engaged in raising companies for him. Before the end of April he had started with a regiment for Harper's Ferry by way of Nashville. An incident connected with this movement shows how strong the belief still was that the war was to be short, and that Kentucky might keep out of it. As Desha's company of Duncan's regiment was leaving Cynthiana, Ky., by rail, one of the privates said to a friend who was bidding him farewell: "Be sure to vote for Crittenden [then the Union candidate for delegate to the Border State Conference] and keep Kentucky out of the fuss. We are just going to Virginia on a little frolic and will be back in three months." On the other side, immediately after Magoffin's refusal to furnish troops, J.V. Guthrie, of Covington, went to Washington and got authority for himself and W. E. Woodruff, of Louisville, to raise two regiments. They established a camp just above Cincinnati, on the Ohio side of the river, and began recruiting in Kentucky. They soon filled two regiments, afterward known as the 1st and 2d Kentucky, which were sent early in July to take part in the West Virginia campaign.
The Union Club in Louisville was an important factor in organizing Union sentiment. Originating in May, in six weeks it numbered six thousand members in that city, and spread rapidly through the State and into East Tennessee. It was a secret society, the members of which were bound by an oath to be true to the flag and Government of the United States.
One of the most striking figures of the period was Lieutenant William Nelson of the navy. He was a man of heroic build, six feet four inches high, and carrying lightly his weight of three hundred pounds; he had many accomplishments, spoke several languages, and was endowed with a strong intellect and a memory which enabled him to repeat, verbatim, page after page of his favorite authors. A fluent and captivating talker, when he wished to please, no man could be more genial and companionable, but he had a quick and impetuous temper and an overbearing disposition, and when irritated or opposed was offensively dictatorial and dogmatic. A native of Kentucky and an ardent friend of the Union, he visited the State several times in the course of the spring to watch the course of events. As a result of his observations he reported to Mr. Lincoln that the arms of the State were in the hands of the secessionists, and that the Union men could not maintain themselves unless they were also furnished with arms. Mr. Lincoln placed at his disposal ten thousand muskets with means for their transportation. Toward the end of April he met in consultation at Frankfort a number of the leading Union men of the State and arranged for the distribution of the arms. When, shortly afterward, the organization of the Union Home Guards began, it was from this source they were armed. In Louisville, on the initiative of J. M. Delph, the Union mayor, a brigade of
two full regiments and a battery were organized, which were destined to play a very useful part.
When the Legislature of which he was a member had finally adjourned, Lovell H. Rousseau went to Washington and obtained authority to recruit a brigade, and, in order to avoid possibly injurious effects on the approaching election, established his camp on the Indiana shore, opposite Louisville.
Nelson, after making arrangements for the distribution of guns to the Union men of the State, was authorized by the President to do a similar service for
the Union men of East Tennessee, and for an escort was empowered to recruit three regiments of infantry and one of cavalry in eastern Kentucky. He selected his colonels, commissioning them "for the Tennessee expedition" and appointing a rendezvous at Hoskin's Cross Roads, in Garrard county, on the farm of Richard M. Robinson, a stanch Union man, for the day after the legislative elections in August.
During this period of neutrality Kentucky history seemed to be repeating itself. As before its occupation by white men it was the common hunting-ground for the Indian of the North and of the South on which by tacit agreement neither was to make a permanent home, so now it had become the common recruiting-ground of Northern and Southern armies on which neither was to establish a camp. The Kentucky secessionists had opened a recruiting rendezvous near Clarksville, Tennessee, a few miles from the Kentucky border, which they called Camp Boone, and recruits began to gather there early in July. Buckner resigned from the State Guard a few days after the battle of Bull Run and soon took his way southward.* His example was followed by most of the higher officers, and the State Guard began rapidly to disintegrate. It was no uncommon sight in Louisville, shortly after this, to see a squad of recruits for the Union service marching up one side of a street while a squad destined for the Confederacy was moving down the other. In the interior, a train bearing a company destined for Nelson's camp took aboard at the next county town another company which was bound for Camp Boone. The officers in charge made a treaty by which their men were kept in separate cars.
On the day after the August election Nelson's recruits began to gather at his rendezvous. Camp Dick Robinson was situated in a beautiful blue-grass country, near where the pike for Lancaster and Crab Orchard leaves the Lexington and Danville Pike, between Dick's River and the Kentucky. By September 1st, there had gathered at this point four full Kentucky regiments and nearly two thousand East Tennesseeans, who had been enlisted by Lieutenant
* During the neutrality period it would appear that the Union authorities were in doubt as to which side General Buckner would espouse, since on August 17th, 1861, President Lincoln wrote to the Secretary of War: "Unless there be reason to the contrary, not known to me, make out a commission for Simon [B.] Buckner, of Kentucky, as a brigadier-general of volunteers. It is to be put into the hands of General Anderson, and delivered to General Buckner or not, at the discretion of General Anderson. Of course it is to remain a secret unless and until the commission is delivered." This letter bears the indorsement, "this day made."--EDITORS.
S. P. Carter. This officer, like Nelson, belonging to the navy, was a native of East Tennessee, and it was part of the original plan of the East Tennessee expedition that he should enter that section and organize men to receive the arms that Nelson was to bring. This was found to be impracticable, and he opened his camp at Barboursville and the men began to come to him.
In August, W. T. Ward, a prominent lawyer of Greensburg, commenced recruiting a brigade and soon had twenty-two companies pledged to rendezvous when he should obtain the necessary authority from Washington. In Christian county, Colonel J. F. Buckner, a wealthy lawyer and planter, recruited a regiment from companies which organized originally as Home Guards, but soon determined to enter the volunteer service. He established a camp five miles north of Hopkinsville, where a few companies remained at a time. Christian county was strongly Unionist, while all the counties west of it were overwhelmingly secessionist. Camp Boone was only a few miles from its southern border, and Fort Donelson about twenty miles south-west. Colonel Buckner had a 6-pounder cannon, which could be heard at Camp Boone and made his vicinity additionally disagreeable to those neighbors.
The neutrality proclaimed by Governor Mogoffin on the 20th of May had been formally recognized by the Confederate authorities and treated with respect by those of the United States, but it was destined to speedy termination. It served a useful purpose in its time, and a policy that had the respectful consideration of the leading men of that day could not have been so absurd as it seems now.
On the 3d of September General Polk, who was in command in western Tennessee, caused Columbus, Kentucky, to be occupied, on account of the appearance of a body of Union troops on the opposite side of the
Mississippi.* Hearing of this, on the 5th General Grant moved from Cairo and occupied Paducah. A few days afterward General Zollicoffer advanced with four Confederate regiments through Cumberland Gap to Cumberland Ford. The Union Legislature had met on the 2d. Resolutions were passed on the 11th requiring the governor to issue a proclamation ordering the Confederate troops to leave the State. They were promptly vetoed and promptly passed over the veto, and the proclamation was issued. In spite of the governor's opposition, acts were passed putting the State in active support of the Government. The governor was reduced to a nullity. General Robert Anderson, who was assigned on May 28th to command the Department of Kentucky, was invited to remove his headquarters to Louisville, and the State's full quota of volunteers was called for. Recruiting was pushed with energy, and by the end of the year 28 regiments of infantry, 6 of cavalry, and 3 batteries had been organized.
On September 15th General Albert Sidney Johnson assumed command of the Confederate forces in the West, and at once ordered General Buckner with five thousand men from Camp Boone and another camp in the vicinity to proceed by rail and occupy Bowling Green. Buckner reached that point early on the 18th, having sent in advance one detachment by rail to seize the bridge over Green River at Munfordville, and another to go as far as Elizabeth town and bring back all the rolling-stock possible. This was successfully accomplished, a part of the advance detachment going as far as the bridge over the Rolling Fork of Salt River, within thirty-three miles of Louisville, and burning the bridge.
Buckner's movement was supposed in Louisville to have that city for its objective, and great excitement prevailed there. Rumor magnified his forces, but there was abundant ground for apprehension without that. General Anderson was in command, but he was without troops. The only forces in his department in Kentucky were the unorganized regiment of Colonel Buckner near Hopkinsville, the few hundred recruits gathered at Greensburg by General Ward, and Nelson's forces at Camp Dick Robinson,--none of which were ready for service,--the Home Guard Brigade of Louisville, and the scattered companies of Home Guards throughout the State. Opposite Louisville was Rousseau's camp, in which were some two thousand men not yet prepared for the field. Very few troops were in reach. Owing to the neutrality of Kentucky, the regiments recruited in Ohio, Indiana, and the North-west generally had been sent as fast as organized to the Potomac or Missouri armies. Fortunately, Governor Oliver P. Morton, of Indiana, had received information, about the 1st, which had led him to reserve a few regiments for Kentucky, and in response to General Anderson's appeal he hurried them forward. Anderson had learned of Buckner's intended advance the day it was made, and the non-arrival of the regular train from the south showed him that it had begun. The Home Guards of Louisville were at once ordered out for ten days, and, assembling at midnight, eighteen hundred of them under Colonel A. Y. Johnson, Chief of the Fire Department, started by rail for Muldraugh's Hill.
*Thus the neutrality of Kentucky was first broken by the Confederates.-EDITORS.
In the session of 1860-61 Senator Crittenden introduced resolutions called the "Crittenden Compromise," proposing as an unalterable Constitutional Amendment that slavery be prohibited north of the parallel of 36o 30', and never interfered with by Congress south of that line. Though this was the most promising of the numerous plans for a compromise, the resolutions failed for want of agreement.-EDITORS.
Rousseau, with twelve hundred men, followed in a few hours. The whole force was under Brigadier-General W. T. Sherman, who had shortly before, at Anderson's request, been assigned to duty with him. On arriving at Lebanon Junction Sherman learned that Rolling Fork Bridge, a few miles farther on, had just been destroyed. The Home Guards debarked at the junction, and Rousseau moved forward to the bridge, finding it still smoking. A reconnaissance in force, carried for some distance beyond the river, found no enemy, and the burning of the bridge indicated that no farther advance was intended immediately.
General Sherman's army was rather a motley crew. The Home Guards did not wear regulation uniforms, and Rousseau's were not well equipped. Muldraugh's Hill had been occupied for six weeks or more during the summer by a regiment of the State Guard, and the people in the vicinity were
generally in sympathy with the rebellion. Sherman's attention was attracted to a young man, without any uniform, who was moving around with what he considered suspicious activity, and he called him up for question. The young fellow gave a prompt account of himself. His name was Griffith, he was a medical student from Louisville acting as hospital steward, and he had been called out in such a hurry that he had had no time to get his uniform. As he moved away he muttered something in a low tone to an officer standing by, and Sherman at once demanded to know what it was. "Well, General," was the reply, "he said that a general with such a hat as you have on had no right to talk to him about a uniforms." Sherman was wearing a battered hat of the style known as "stovepipe." Pulling it off, he looked at it, and, bursting into a laugh, called out: "Young man, you are right about the hat, but you ought to have your uniform."
On the 20th, the 38th Indiana (Colonel B. F. Scribner) arrived, and soon after four other regiments. Sherman moved forward to Elizabeth town, not finding any available position at Muldraugh's Hill. A few days afterward, having on October 8th succeeded Anderson, who had been relieved by General Scott in these terms, "To give you rest necessary to restoration of health, call Brigadier-General Sherman to command the Department of the Cumberland," Sherman ordered Rousseau to advance along the railroad to Nolin, fifty-three miles from Louisville, and select a position for a large force.
While Sherman was at Elizabeth town, Buckner, with several thousand men, moved rapidly to Rochester, on Green River, and destroyed the locks there, and then moved against Colonel Buckner's camp near Hopkinsville. Warned of his approach, Colonel Buckner directed his men, who had not yet been regularly enrolled, to disperse and make their way to the Union camp near Owensboro'. They succeeded, but Colonel Buckner himself was taken prisoner. Occupying Hopkinsville after a slight skirmish with the Home Guards, Buckner left a garrison here under General Alcorn and returned to Bowling Green.
Rousseau's advance to Nolin and the arrival of large reenforcements there induced Johnston to move his headquarters from Columbus to Bowling Green, and on October 15th he sent Hardee with 1200 men from that place against Ward at Greensburg, who, hearing of Hardee's approach, fell back with his recruits 20 miles to Campbellsville.
No material change in this position of affairs in western Kentucky occurred while General Sherman remained in command, though there were several sharp skirmishes between bodies of Kentucky recruits and Confederate scouting parties in the Lower Green River country.
In the mean time the East Tennessee expedition was not progressing. Nelson, whose arbitrary temper had made him enemies among influential politicians, was sent to eastern Kentucky to superintend recruiting camps, and Brigadier-General George H. Thomas took command at Camp Dick Robinson. Thomas was an ardent advocate of the movement on East Tennessee and bent all his energies to getting ready for it, but his command was not half equipped and was wholly without transportation; staff-officers were scarce, and funds were not furnished. More patient than Nelson, he was yet greatly tried by the importunities of the East Tennessee troops, and of the prominent politicians from that region, who made his camp their rendezvous, as well as by military suggestions from civilians more zealous than wise in such matters. The speech-making of distinguished visitors became a burden to him. On one occasion, when General Sherman visited his camp, Ex-Senator J. J. Crittenden, Senator Andrew Johnson, and Horace Maynard were there. A band came from the camp to serenade them, and the soldiers, not yet rid of their civilian characteristics, began calling for speeches from one after another. Thomas withdrew from the orators to the seclusion of a little room used as an office, on one side of the piazza from which they were speaking. One of his aides was writing in a corner, but Thomas did not see him, and began striding up and down the floor in growing irritation. At last Sherman, who was not then such an orator as he is now, finished speaking, and cries arose for "Thomas." He blurted out, "_____this speech-making! I won't speak! What does a man want to make a speech for, anyhow?" Observing that he had an auditor, he strode from the room slamming the door behind him, and kept his own quarters for the rest of the evening.
Accustomed to the discipline of the regular army, and fresh from the well-organized army of General Patterson on the upper Potomac, Thomas had little confidence in the raw recruits whom, for lack of a mustering officer, he mustered in himself. He was willing to advance into east Tennessee with half a dozen well-drilled regiments, and asked for and obtained them, but they came without transportation, and he had none for them. While he was struggling to get ready for an advance, Zollicoffer had made several demonstrations, and to oppose him Garrard's regiment had been thrown forward to
a strong position on Wild Cat Mountain just beyond Rockcastle River, supported by a detachment of Wolford's cavalry. On the 17th of October, Garrard reported that Zollicoffer was advancing in force, and asked for reenforcements. Thomas hurried forward several regiments under General Schoepf, who had reported to him shortly before. Schoepf arrived with the 33d Indiana, in time to help in giving Zollicoffer, who had attacked vigorously with two regiments, a decisive repulse. Zollicoffer retired, apparently satisfied with developing Garrard's force, and Thomas moved Schoepf with Carter's East Tennesseans and several other regiments forward in pursuit, till stopped by order of General Sherman, at London.
On the 12th of November, Sherman, having received information from his advance that a large force was moving between him and Thomas, apparently toward Lexington, ordered the latter to withdraw all his forces north of the Kentucky River. Making arrangements to obey, Thomas at the same time sent an officer to Sherman, urging the impolicy of the move unless absolutely necessary, and controverting the information on which it was based. The order was revoked, but the revocation did not reach Schoepf until his troops had begun the movement. The East Tennessee regiments had received it with an indignation that carried them to the verge of mutiny. They threw their guns to the ground and swore they would not obey. Many actually left the command, though they returned in a few days. It required all of Carter's influence to keep them to their standards, and hundreds of them wept as they turned their backs on their homes. Andrew Johnson was with them, and his indignation had added fuel to their as so indiscreet that Thomas seriously contemplated his arrest. On the revocation of the order Carter returned to London, while Schoepf took position soon after at Somerset.
In September Colonel John S. Williams had begun to gather a Confederate force at Pastern Kentucky, threatening incursions into the central part of the State. On the 8th of November General Nelson, who had advanced against him with two Ohio and detachments of several Kentucky regiments, with a part of his force encountered a large detachment thrown forward by Williams to cover his retreat, in a strong position on Ivy Creek. After a well-contested engagement Williams was forced from his position, and retired through Pound Gap [see map, page 394]
into Virginia, Nelson with the Ohio regiments was then ordered to join the column in front of Louisville, where he was assigned to command the Fourth Division. On this expedition Nelson reported as part of his force, "thirty-six gentlemen volunteers," probably the latest appearance in history of that description of soldier. One of them, of strong bibulous propensities, acting as his private secretary, brought about an altercation between Nelson and a wagoner nearly as large, which narrowly missed fatal results. He was anxious to get the driver away from his wagon in which there was a jug of whisky, and directed him to Nelson's tent to find a big fellow who was employed to unhitch teams for tired drivers. He warned him that the big fellow was cross, but told him he must insist on his rights. The driver was just tipsy enough to be reckless, and he roused Nelson with little ceremony.
There was a terrible outburst of fury on both sides, which brought interference just in time to prevent a conflict between the two giants, one armed with a sword, and the other with a loaded whip-handle. The aide, not reporting next morning, was, after some search, found sound asleep in a wagon with the jug beside him. He was a noted wag, and Nelson, recognizing him at once as the author of the trick, dismissed him to his home.
A visit from Secretary Cameron and Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas, on their return from St. Louis in the latter part of October, resulted in the removal of General Sherman. In explaining the needs of his department to the Secretary, Sherman expressed the opinion that two hundred thousand men would be required for successful operations on his line. This estimate, which, as events showed, evinced remarkable foresight, then discredited his judgment. On their way to St. Louis, on the same tour, the Secretary had ordered General O. M. Mitchell to take charge of the East Tennessee expedition, superseding General Thomas, but General Sherman succeeded in having the order recalled.
On November 15th, General Don Carlos Buell assumed command of the Department of the Ohio, enlarged so as to include the States of Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.* He was given the advantage, not enjoyed by his predecessors, of controlling the new troops organized in those States. By one of his first orders, General Thomas was directed to concentrate his command at Lebanon. The new commander began at once the task of creating an efficient army out of the raw material at hand. He organized the regiments into brigades and divisions, and subjected them to a system of drill and discipline the beneficial effects of which endured throughout the war.
The advance into East Tennessee remained a favorite project with the authorities at Washington. Buell's instructions presented Knoxville as the objective of his first campaign. McClellan wrote several times urging that the seizing of the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad was essential to the success of his plans, and that the political results likely to follow success in that direction made the movement of the first importance. Buell did not consider East Tennessee important enough to be his principal objective; he wanted it to be a subordinate feature in a great campaign. He submitted his plans to McClellan in a personal letter. They were comprehensive and required a large force, and it was already seen that Sherman's estimate was not so far out of the way. Buell proposed that a heavy column should be moved up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers by steamer, to unite with another moving on Nashville, to the eastward of Bowling Green. Demonstrations were to be made in front of Columbus and Bowling Green, sufficient to keep the forces holding them fully occupied until their retreat was cut off by the marching columns. At the same time an expedition from Lebanon, moving by way of Somerset, was to be directed against East Tennessee. Until he was ready to move, he desired to do nothing to put the enemy on the alert. His brigades and regiments were allowed to remain in apparently objectless dispersion.
*General Buell was a graduate of West Point. In the Mexican war he twice received promotion for gallant and meritorious conduct, and was severely wounded. May 20th, 1861, to August 9th he was on duty in California, and from Sept. 14th to Nov. 9th in the defenses of Washington. EDITORS.
He did not care if some isolated posts were occasionally raided by the enemy. But his regiments were frequently inspected and required to keep constantly ready for a movement the day and hour of which he proposed to keep to himself. The notion that Buckner or Zollicoffer contemplated an advance, which so frequently agitated the military mind before he came, was dismissed by him as idle. "I would as soon," he wrote to McClellan, "expect to meet the Army of the Potomac marching up the road, as Johnston."
His policy of quiet had to be laid aside when, early in December, Morgan and Helm burned the Bacon Creek bridge in his front. He advanced his lines to Munfordville and threw forward a small force beyond Green River. This resulted in a skirmish between a portion of the 32d Indiana, deployed as skirmishers, and Terry's Texas Cavalry--notable as one of the few fights of the war between infantry skirmishers in the open and cavalry.
Nothing else of moment occurred on Buell's main line until the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson compelled Johnston to retire from Bowling Green and leave the road to Nashville open.* During November Buell reviewed Thomas's command at Lebanon, and advised with him about an attack on Zollicoffer, who to meet a rumored advance had left Cumberland Gap in charge of a strong garrison, had made his appearance on the Cumberland at Mill Springs, a few miles south-west of Somerset, had crossed the river, and after some picket-firing with Schoepf had intrenched himself on the north side.
General Thomas left Lebanon on the 1st of January. As far as Columbia there was a good turnpike; beyond, only mud roads. It rained incessantly, and artillery carriages and wagons sank to their axles in the soft soil. On one part of the route eight days were consumed in advancing forty miles.
* The letter which follows shows Mr. Lincoln's ideas of what was demanded by the situation:
"Executive Mansion, Washington, January 13th, 1862. BRIGADIER-GENERAL BUELL: My dear sir,--Your dispatch of yesterday is received, in which you say 'I have received your letter and General McClellan's, and will at once devote all my efforts to your views and his." In the midst of my many cares, I have not seen or asked to see General McClellan's letter to you. For my own views, I have not offered and do not now offer them, as orders; and while I am glad to have them respectfully considered, I would blame you to follow them contrary to your own clear judgment, unless I should put them in the form of orders. As to General McClellan's views, you understand your duty in regard to them better than I do. With this preliminary I state my general idea of this was to be that we have the greater numbers and the enemy has the greater facility of concentrating forces upon points of collision; that we must fail unless we can find some way of making our advantage an overmatch for his; and that this can only be done by menacing him with superior forces at different points at the same time, so that we can safely attack one or both if he makes no change; and if he weakens one to strengthen the other, forbear to attack the strengthened one, but seize and hold the weakened one, gaining so much. To illustrate: suppose last summer, when Winchester ran away to reenforce Manassas, we had forborne to attack Manassas, but had seized and held Winchester. I mention this to illustrate, and not to criticise. I did not lose confidence in McDowel, and I think less harshly of Patterson than some others seem to. In application of the general rule I am suggesting, every particular case will have its modifying circumstances, among which the most constantly present and most difficult to meet will be the want of perfect knowledge of the enemy's movements. This had its part in the Bull Run case; but worse in that case was the expiration of the terms of three-months men. Applying the principle to your case, my idea is that Halleck shall menace Columbus, and 'down-river' generally, while you menace bowling green and East Tennessee. If the enemy shall concentrate at Bowling Green, do not retire from his front, yet do not fight him there either, but seize Columbus and east Tennessee, one or both, left exposed by the concentration at Bowling Green. It is a matter of no small anxiety to me, and one which I am sure you will not overlook, that the East Tennessee line is so long and over to bad a road. Yours, very truly, A. LINCOLN. [Indorsement]: January 13th, 1862. Having to-day written General Buell a letter, it occurs to me to send General Halleck a copy of it. A. LINCOLN."
On February 5th, the day before the capture of Fort Henry, General Buell wrote thus to General Halleck in a correspondence with regard to co-operation:
"I think it is quite plain that the center of the
line-that part which you are now moving against-is the decisive point
his whole front, as it is also the most vulnerable. If it is held, or
the bridges on the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers destroyed, and your
force maintains itself near those points, Bowling Green will speedily
and Columbus will soon follow. The work which you have undertaken is
of the very highest importance, without reference to the injurious
of a failure. There is not in the whole field of operations a point at
which every man you can raise can be employed with more effect or with
the prospect of as important results." EDITORS.
On the 17th of January Thomas reached Logan's Cross Roads, ten miles
north of Zollicoffer's intrenched camp (on the north side of the
opposite Mill Springs) and about the same distance west of Somerset,
the 9th Ohio and 2d Minnesota of Robert L. McCook's brigade, the 10th
of Manson's brigade, Kenny's battery,and a battalion of Wolford's
The 4th Kentucky, 10th Kentucky, the 14th Ohio, Wetmore's battery, and
the 18th regulars were still detained in the rear by bad roads. Halting
at the cross roads, Thomas communicated with Schoepf and ordered him to
send across Fishing Creek to his camp the 12th Kentucky, the 1st and 2d
East Tennessee regiments, and Standart's battery, to remain until the
of his delayed force. Hearing that a large wagon train, sent on a
expedition by Zollicoffer, was on a road about six miles from the camp
of Steedman, of the 14th Ohio, he ordered that officer to take his own
regiment and Harlan's 10th Kentucky and attempt its capture. On the
of the 18th and 4th Kentucky, the battalion of Michigan Engineers, and
the battery arrived and went into camp near the 10th Indiana.
THE BATTLE OF LOGAN'S CROSS ROADS (MILL SPRINGS).
A FEW days before this General George B. crittenden had arrived at Zollicoffer's camp and assumed command. Hearing of the arrival of Thomas with part of his command, and Fishing Creek, a troublesome stream at any stage of water, was unfordable from recent rains, he called a council of his brigade and regimental commanders to consider the propriety of making an attack on Thomas before he could be reached by Schoepf or his regiments in the rear. There was little delay in coming to a decision. Their camp on the north side of the river was not tenable against a strong attack, and the means of crossing the river were so insufficient that a withdrawal without great loss could not have been effected, in the face of an enterprising enemy. The only chance for a satisfactory issue was to attack Thomas before he could concentrate. Crittenden ordered a movement to begin at midnight on the 18th in the following order: General Zollicoffer's brigade, consisting of two cavalry companies, a Mississippi regiment, three Tennessee regiments, and a battery in front; next, the brigade of General Carroll, composed of three Tennessee regiments and a section of artillery. An Alabama regiment and two cavalry regiments, intended as a reserve, closed the column. After a march of nine miles over muddy roads and through the rain, his cavalry about daylight encountered Wolford's pickets, who after firing fell back on the reserve, consisting of two companies of the 10th Indiana, and with them made a determined stand, in which they were promptly supported by Wolford with the rest of his battalion, and soon after by the rest of the 10th Indiana, ordered up by Manson, who had been advised by courier from Wolford of the attack. Colonel Manson proceeded in person to order forward the 4th Kentucky and the battery of his brigade and to report to General Thomas. On his way he notified Colonel Van Cleve, of the 2d Minnesota. As Manson dashed through the camp of the 4th Kentucky shouting for Colonel Speed S. Fry, and giving warning of the
attack, the men, wearied with the muddy march of the day before, were just beginning to crawl out of their tents to roll-call. Forming rapidly, Fry led them at double-quick in the direction of the firing. Having no one to place him, on coming in sight of the enemy, he took position along a fence in the edge of the woods, with his right resting near the Mill Springs road. In front of him was an open field, across which the enemy were advancing from the shelter of woodland on the opposite side. A ravine ran through the open field parallel to Fry's front, heading near the road on his right, with steep sides in his front, but sloping gradually beyond his left. Before Fry's arrival Zollicoffer had deployed his brigade, and had forced Wolford and the 10th Indiana to fall back, almost capturing the horses of Wolford's men, who were fighting on foot. A portion of Wolford's command, under his immediate charge, and Vanarsdall's company of the 10th Indiana, rallied on the 4th Kentucky when it appeared, the remainder of the 10th falling back to its encampment, where it re-formed its lines. Fry was at once subjected to a severe attack. The enemy in his front crawled up under shelter of the ravine to within a short distance of his lines before delivering their fire, and Fry, mounting the fence, in stentorian tones denounced them as dastards, and defied them to stand up on their feet and come forward like men.
A little lull in the firing occurring at this juncture, Fry rode a short distance to the right to get a better view of the movement of the enemy in that direction. The morning was a lowering one, and the woods were full of smoke. As Fry turned to regain his position he encountered a mounted officer whose uniform was covered with a water-proof coat. After approaching till their knees touched, the stranger said to Fry: "We must not fire on our own men"; and nodding his head to his left, he said, "Those are our men." Fry said, "Of course not. I would not do so intentionally"; and he began to move toward his regiment, when turning he saw another mounted man riding from the
trees who fired and wounded Fry's horse. Fry at once fired on the man who had accosted him, and several of his men, observing the incident, fired at the same time. The shots were fatal, and the horseman fell dead, pierced by a pistol-shot in his breast and by two musket-balls. It was soon ascertained that it was Zollicoffer himself who had fallen. In the mean time, the enemy were pressing Fry in front and overlapping his right. On his right front only the fence separated the combatants. The left of his regiment not being assailed, he moved two companies not being assailed, he moved two companies from that flank to his right. As he was making this change General Thomas appeared on the field, and at once placed the 10th Indiana in position to cover Fry's exposed flank.
The fall of Zollicoffer and the sharp firing that followed caused woof his regiments to retreat in confusion. Crittenden then brought up Carroll's brigade to the support of the other two, and ordered a general advance. Thomas met this by placing a section of Kenny's battery on the left of the 4th Kentucky, which was overlapped by Caroll's line, ordered the 12th Kentucky to the left of Kenny's two guns, and Carter with the two East Tennessee regiments, and Wetmore's battery still farther to the left, in front of the Somerset road. Standart's battery and Kenny's remaining guns were held in the rear of the center, and McCook's two regiments were ordered up, the 9th Ohio on the right of the 10th Indiana, and the 2d Minnesota in reserve behind the latter regiment and the 4th Kentucky. During these movements Kenny's section was so threatened that it was withdrawn some distance to the rear. There was little opportunity for the effective use of artillery on either side, and that arm played an insignificant part in the engagement, Thomas's superiority in that particular availing him little. Carroll's attack was pressed with great courage, and the ammunition of the 4th Kentucky and 10th Indiana beginning to fail, the 2d Minnesota was ordered to relieve them, which it did under severe fire. Both of McCook's regiments were admirably drilled and disciplined, and moved to the attack with the order and steadiness of veterans. Thomas's disposition of his troops had begun to tell. The advance of the 12th Kentucky on the left, the firing of Wetmore's battery, and the movement of Carter's East Tennesseans checked the enemy's right, and it soon began to give back. The 2d Minnesota was slowly pushing forward over the ground that had been the scene of the most persistent fighting from the first, and the 9th Ohio, on the right, was forcing back the enemy through open ground, when, slightly changing direction, it made a bayonet charge against the enemy's left, which gave way in confusion. Their whole line then broke into a disorderly retreat. After replenishing
cartridge-boxes, Thomas pushed forward in pursuit. Within a few miles, a small body of the enemy's cavalry attempted to make a stand, but were scattered by a few shells from Standart. The road which the retreating force followed was strewn with evidences that the retreat had degenerated into a panic. A piece of artillery was found abandoned in a mud hole, hundreds of muskets were strewn along the road and in the fields, and, most convincing proof of all, the flying foe had thrown away their haversacks filled with rations of corn pone and bacon. Those were the days when stories of "rebel atrocities" in the way of poisoning wells and food were current, and the pursuers, who had gone into the fight break fastness, were doubtful about tasting the contents of the first haversacks they observed. Their great number, however, soon became a guarantee of good faith, and the hungry soldiers seized on them with avidity. As Crittenden in his report mentioned the loss of all the cooked rations carried to the field as enhancing the distress of his subsequent retreat, the abundance of the supply obtained by the pursuing force may be inferred. on arriving near the enemy's intrenchments the division was deployed in line of battle, advancing to the summit of the hill at Moulden's, which commanded the enemy's intrenchments. From this point Standart and Wetmore's batteries kept up a cannonade till dark, while Kenny's on the left, at Russell's house, fired upon their ferry to keep them from crossing. The 14th Ohio and the 10th Kentucky had come up during the pursuit, and were placed in advance for the assault ordered for daybreak. General Schoepf arrived about dark with the 17th, 31st, and 38th Ohio. [See also pp. 546-547.]
At daybreak next morning Wetmore's Parrott guns, which had been moved to Russell's, began firing on the steamer which was evidently engaged in crossing troops, and it was soon abandoned and set on fire by the enemy. The assaulting columns moved forward, the 10th Kentucky and the 14th Ohio in advance, and reaching the intrenchments found them abandoned. In the bottom near the ferry-crossing were found 11 pieces of artillery, with their caissons, battery-wagons, and forges, hitched up and ready to move but abandoned by the artillerymen, more than 150 wagons, and over 1000 horses and mules. All the troops had escaped. The steep road on the other bank was strewn with abandoned baggage and other evidences of disorderly flight. The boats used for crossing having been destroyed by the retreating enemy, no immediate pursuit was possible; but during the day means were improvised for getting the 14th Ohio across for a reconnaissance and to secure abandoned property.
Thomas reported his loss in action as 39 killed and 207 wounded, the casualties being confined entirely to the 10th Indiana, 4th Kentucky, 2d Minnesota, 9th Ohio, and Wolford's cavalry. Colonels McCook and Fry were among the wounded. The enemy's loss he reported as 192 killed, 89 prisoners not wounded, and 68 prisoners wounded. Crittenden's report stated his own loss at 125 killed, 209 wounded, and 99 missing, much the heaviest loss being in the 15th Mississippi (Lieutenant-Colonel E. C. Walthall), of Zollicoffer's brigade, which had led the attack on Fry and fought through the whole engagement.
Besides the property mentioned above, a large amount of ammunition, commissary stores, intrenching tools, camp and garrison equipage and muskets, and five stands of colors were fund in the camp. The demoralization was acknowledged by Crittenden in his report, in which he says: "From Mill Springs and on the first steps of my march offices and men, frightened by false rumors of the movements of the enemy, shamefully deserted, and, stealing horses and mules to ride, fled to Knoxville, Nashville, and other places in Tennessee." Of one cavalry battalion, he reported that all had deserted except twenty-five. On his retreat his sick-list increased greatly from lack of food and fatigue, and the effective force of his army was practically destroyed.
After entrance into his intrenchments had demonstrated the panic that existed in the enemy's forces, Fry said to Thomas: "General, who didn't' you send in a demand for surrender last night?" Looking at him a moment as if reflecting, Thomas replied: "Having it, Fry, I never once thought of it." At this time originated a saying often heard in the Western army afterward. A sprightly young prisoner slightly wounded was allowed the freedom of the camp. To some soldiers chaffing him about his army being in such a hurry as even to throw away their haversacks, he replied: "Well, we were doing pretty good fighting till old man Thomas rose up in his stirrups, and we heard him holler out: 'Attention, Creation! By kingdoms right wheel!' and then we knew you had us, and it was no time to carry weight."
Thomas's victory was complete, and the road was opened for the advance into East Tennessee which he had so long endeavored to make and which was
contemplated by his instructions, but the scarcity of provisions, the badness of the roads, and the difficulty of crossing the river made progress on that line impracticable, and shortly afterward Carter was ordered with his brigade against Cumberland Gap and Thomas to rejoin Buell's main column, and the East Tennessee expedition, which Nelson had devised and McClellan had strongly urged and Thomas had labored so to put in motion, was definitively abandoned.
While Thomas was marching against Zollicoffer, Colonel Garfield was driving Humphrey Marshall from the mountainous region along the Virginia border. With Marshall's retreat the last Confederate force was driven from the State, and Garfield with his brigade joined the army in Tennessee.
THE OPPOSING FORCES AT LOGAN'S CROSS ROADS, KNOWN AS MILL SPRINGS AND ALSO AS FISHING CREEK, KY.
The composition and losses of each army as here stated give the gist of all the data obtainable in the Official Records. K stands for killed; w for wounded; m w for mortally wounded; m for captured or missing; c for captured.-EDITORS.
THE UNION ARMY, Brig.-Gen. George H. Thomas. Second Brigade, Col. Mahlon D. Manson; 10th Ind., Lt.-Col. William C. Kise; 4th Ky., Col. Speed S. Fry (w); 10th Ky., Col. John M. Harlan; 14th Ohio, Col. James B. Steedman. [The two latter regiments were engaged only in the pursuit of the enemy.] Brigade loss: k, 19; w, 127=146. Third Brigade, Col. Robert L. McCook (w); 2d Minn., Col. Horatio P. Van. Cleve; 9th Ohio, Major Gustave Kammerling. Brigade loss: k, 18; w, 61=79; Twelfth Brigade, Acting Brig.-Gen. Samuel P. Carter: 12th Ky., Col. William A. Hoskins; 1st Tennessee, Col.
The total loss of the Union forces was 40 killed, 207 wounded, and 15 captured or missing,-aggregate, 262.
In the Official Records, vol. VII, p. 86, Col. Manson reports that "the Federal force actually engaged did not exceed at any time over 2500." Gen. Thomas's entire command on the field during the engagement probably numbered about four thousand effectives.
THE CONFEDERATE ARMY, Major-Gen. George B. Crittenden.
First Brigade, Brig.-Gen. F. K. Zollicoffer (k), Col. D. H. Cummings: 15th Miss., Lieut.-Col. E. C. Walthall; 19th Tenn., Col. D. H. Cummings, Lieut.-Col. Francis M. Walker; 20th Tenn., Col. Joel A. Battle; 25th Tenn., Col. S. S. Stanton (w); Tenn. Battery, Capt. A. M. Rutledge; Ind'p't Co. Tenn. Cav., Capt. W. S. Bledsoe; Ind'p't Co. Tenn. Cav., Capt. T. C. Standers. Brigade
The total Confederate loss was 125 killed, 309 wounded, and 99 captured or missing,-aggregate, 533.
Gen. Crittenden says: "In the then condition of my command I could array for battle about 4000 effective men."
Robert K. Byrd; 2d Tennessee, Col. J. P. T. Carter; 1st Ky. Cavalry, Col. Frank Wolford. Brigade loss: k, 3; w, 19; m, 15=37. Artillery: Battery B, 1st Ohio, Capt. William E. standard; Battery C, 1st Ohio, Capt. Dennis Kenny, Jr.; 9th Ohio Battery, Capt. Henry S. Wetmore. Camp Guard: D. F, and K,Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, Lieut.-Col. K. A. Hunton; A, 38th Ohio, Capt. Charles Greenwood.
Brig.-Gen. A. Schoepf joined Thomas on the evening of the battle, after the fighting had ceased, with the 17th, 31st, and 38th Ohio.loss: k, 98; w, 265; m, 66-429. Second Brigade, Brig.-Gen. Wm.H. Carroll: 16th Ala., Col. Wm. B. Wood; 17th Tenn., Lieut.-Col. T. C. H. Miller; 28th Tenn., Col. J. P. Murray; 29th Tenn., Col. Saml. Powell (w), Major Horace Rice; Tenn. Battery (2 guns), Capt. Hugh L. W. McClung; 4th Battalion Tenn. Cav., Lieut.-Col. B. M. Branner. Brigade loss: k, 28; w, 46; m, 29=103. Reserve: 5th Battalion Tenn. Cav., Lieut.-Col. George R. McClellan.
Proclamation to the People of Kentucky
Beech Grove, Ky., December 16, 1861.
To the People of Southeastern Kentucky:
The brigade I have the honor to command is here for no purpose of war upon Kentuckians, but to repel those Northern hordes who, with arms in their hands, are attempting the subjugation of a sister Southern State. They have closed your rivers, embargoed your railroads, cut off your natural and proper markets, left your stock and produce on hand almost valueless, and thereby almost destroyed the value of your lands and labor. We have come to open again your rivers, to restore the ancient markets for your produce, and thereby to return to you the accustomed value of your lands and labor. They have represented us as murderers and outlaws. We have come to convince you that we truly respect the laws, revere justice, and mean to give security to your personal and property rights. They have forced many of you to take up arms against us. We come to take you by the hand as heretofore--as friends and brothers. Their Government has laid heavy taxes on you to carry on this unnatural war, one object of which is openly avowed to be to set at liberty your slaves, and the ensuing steps in which will be to put arms in their hands and give them political and social equality with yourselves. We saw these things in the beginning, and are offering our heart's blood to avert those dreadful evils which we saw the abolition leaders had deliberately planned for the South. "All men must have the ballot or none; all men must have the bullet or none," said Mr. Seward, the present Federal Secretary of State.
How long will Kentuckians close their eyes to the contemplated ruin of their present structure of society? How long will they continue to raise their arms against brothers of the South struggling for those rights and for that independence common to us all, and which was guaranteed to all by the Constitution of 1787? For many long years we remonstrated against the encroachments on the rights and the insecurity to that property thus guaranteed, which these Northern hordes so remorselessly in inflicted upon us. They became deaf to our remonstrances, because they believed they had the power and felt in every fiber the [ ] to "whip us in." We have disappointed them. We have broken their columns in almost every conflict. We have early acquired a prestige of success which has stricken terror into the Northern heart. Their grand armies have been held in check by comparatively few but stern-hearted men, and now they would invoke Kentucky valor to aid them in besting down the true sons of the South who have stood the shock, and in bringing common ruin upon Kentucky and her kindred people. Will you play this unnatural part, Kentuckians? Heaven forbid! The memories of the past forbid! The honor of your wives and daughters, your past renown, and the fair name of your posterity forbid that you should strike for Lincoln and the abolition of slavery against those struggling for the rights and independence of your kindred race. Strike with us for independence and the preservation of your property, and those Northern invaders of your soil will soon be driven across the Ohio.
F. K. ZOLLICOFFER, Brigadier-General.