Mill Springs Battlefield

On January 19, 1862, General Felix K. Zollicoffer and his Confederate forces faced off against General George H. Thomas’ Federal troops on a cold, rainy Sunday morning near Logan’s Crossroads in Kentucky, a sleepy little community about nine miles north of the Cumberland River.

During the fall of 1861, Zollicoffer moved his army to Mill Springs. This action resulted in the combining of Federal forces at Logan’s Crossroads (now present day Nancy, Kentucky). Realizing that the Southern defensive line was threatened, Jefferson Davis sent General George B. Crittenden to take over command of Zollicoffer’s army. What transpired on that fateful day resulted in Zollicoffer’s death and the first major Federal victory of the war.

The rain, smoke, and fog caused visibility to be minimal and against the advice of his aids, Zollicoffer rode up the Mill Springs Road. Unknowingly, he rode up to a Federal Officer from Danville, Kentucky named Speed Fry. Realizing his mistake, Zollicoffer tried to bluff his way to safety and ordered Fry to stop firing on his own troops.

Zollicoffer might have gotten away, had not one of his aides rode up shouting “General, they are the enemy” and fired upon Fry. The jig was up. Fry and his regiment opened fire. Zollicoffer and his two aides fell mortally wounded on the battlefield. After a bitter fight along the split rail fence and bayonet charge by the 9th Ohio, the Confederates retreated in disorder and crossed the Cumberland River.

The Confederate defeat had far reaching results during the following months. The Southern defensive line across Southern Kentucky/Northern Tennessee was weakened, which gave Union General Grant the chance to attack Forts Henry and Donelson that led to the devastating Battle of Shiloh. The Battle of Mill Springs became a footnote in history, being overshadowed by the larger battles of the Civil War that followed.

It wasn’t until 1992 when the Mill Springs Battlefield Association was formed that the battle’s significance was brought back to life. Since then the MSBA, with the help of the Civil War Preservation Trust, the American Battlefield Protection Program, and other local, state, and federal funds, has acquired nearly 500 acres of battlefield land, restored two historic houses, created two walking trails, placed numerous interpretive signage, and built a 10,000 square foot Visitor Center.

The Visitor Center, located in Nancy, Kentucky, acts as the information hub for the entire battlefield, including a museum. The Visitor Center receives thousands of visitors per year, many of them drawn in from the Highway. The MSBA holds several annual events each year, including Living History Weekend and Ghostwalk, both held at Zollicoffer Park. For more information call 606-636-4045 or visit www.millsprings.net.

Mill Springs Battlefield Association, Inc.
Mill Springs Battlefield Visitor Center and Museum

Located at: 9020 West Highway 80,Nancy, Kentucky 42544
Phone: 606-636-4045 Fax: 606-636-4050
Hours: May-September    Monday-Sun 10am-4pm
October-April     Tuesday-Sun 10am-4pm
CLOSED annually on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Mail Address:P.O. Box 282, Nancy, Kentucky 42544
Website: http://www.millsprings.net
Email: info@millsprings.net

Associated Names/Locations:
Zollicoffer Park – Hwy 235, Nancy, Kentucky
Historic Brown-Lanier House B&B – 9155 Hwy 1275 N, Monticello, Kentucky 42633

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