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Visit Mill Springs Battlefield in Kentucky

Updated on May 27, 2015

Although Kentucky may not be known as a popular destination for Civil War enthusiasts, it does offer some significance in the War Between the States.

The Battle of Mill Springs was the first victory in the West for the Union army during the Civil War on Jan. 19, 1862. The Union army was able to advance into Tennessee as a result of the victory.

Brigadier General George H. Thomas led the Union troops from Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota and Tennessee. The Confederate troops from Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama were led by Major General George B. Crittenden.

A National Historic Landmark, the area close to Lake Cumberland in southern Kentucky has been preserved by the Mill Springs Battlefield Association and is worth a visit for those passionate about the Civil War.

As with most Civil War battlefields, the first stop is at the visitor's center and museum, which is near the town of Nancy.

Located next to the visitor's center is the Mill Springs National Cemetery, which remains an active burial site.

Another point on the 10-stop driving tour is Zollicoffer Park where Confederate soldiers are buried.

Felix Zollicoffer was a brigadier general in the Confederate army, who was one of the over 150 killed on both sides during the fighting. The account of Zollicoffer's death is an interesting story that happened in this location. It had been raining the day of the battle, which as one tours the area you can imagine the confusion as the fog and smoke of the fighting could have led Zollicoffer close to the Union troops. It is believed he thought the unit he was near was on his side, but the ultimate certainty in his situation resulted in him being within range of the enemy and that sealed his fate. He was later buried in Nashville, Tenn.

Later in the driving tour, Timmy's Branch is the location of the first shots were fired in the battle.

The last stop on the northern side of the Cumberland River is the landing area where the Confederate troops crossed as they prepared for the battle.

Zollicoffer's headquarters and the Confederate hospital are the final two stops on the tour, but they are on the south side of the Cumberland River. After returning to the visitor's center, completing last two stops is about a 15-mile journey.

The Mill Springs Battlefield is a wonderful day-trip for anyone visiting the area or just passing through to another destination wanting a historical experience along the way.

Visit the Mill Springs Web site for more information.

Mill Springs National Cemetery
Mill Springs National Cemetery | Source

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