Save 102 Acres at Mill Springs

A Message from the Civil War Trust

Mill Springs
(Rob Shenk)

Protected on three sides by the Cumberland River with a 1,200-foot line of earthworks spanning the fourth, Confederate Brig. Gen. Felix Zollicoffer’s fortified winter camp near Nancy, Ky., was home to more than 5,000 Southern soldiers in January 1862. Dubbed “Zollicoffer’s Den,” the camp seemed a safe haven to its namesake and the men in his charge — until a sudden storm swept away a substantial portion of the Southerners’ fleet, abruptly changing their castle on the Cumberland into a cage all but sealed off by a once-reassuring moat.

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    Feeling trapped, Zollicoffer’s superior, Maj. Gen. George B. Crittenden, saw only one practicable way out: up.  At 1 a.m. on January 19, he and Zollicoffer would lead their men north to nearby Logan’s Crossroads, hoping to best Union Brig. Gen. George H. Thomas and his force of roughly 4,000 men with an early morning surprise attack. Instead, the gambit gave the North its first major victory of the Civil War — and cost Zollicoffer his life.

    For too long, the Battle of Mill Springs, Ky., was something of a footnote in Civil War history, overshadowed by the larger battles that would come in the months and years to follow. Together with our partners in preservation at the American Battlefield Protection Program, the Civil War Trust and the Mill Springs Battlefield Association have worked tirelessly to correct this, investing tremendous amounts of time and tenacity to better highlight the battle that helped break the Confederate hold on eastern Kentucky and solidify Northern control over the Bluegrass State.

    With your help, nearly 600 acres at this important battlefield have been preserved to date. Visitors to the site can enjoy two restored historic homes, walking trails with interpretive signage and an impressive 10,000-square-foot museum and visitor center. But our work is far from over.

    This year, the Civil War Trust has the opportunity to acquire an additional 102 acres at Mill Springs — including the location of General Zollicoffer’s headquarters as well as a portion of the original Confederate trench line, both in the heart of historic Zollicoffer’s Den. Significantly, a 2-gun cannon battery position and hundreds of Confederate cabin remains are still present on the property.

    To secure this key launching ground, however, the Trust must first raise $361,475, with every dollar that our supporters contribute doubled by a 2-to-1 matching grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program.

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