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Holding Kentucky for the Union.

R. M. Kelly, Colonel, U. S. V.
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

Military water-sled. From a war-time sketch.

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 the Union. 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 Magoffin 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 [374] 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.

The Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge, D. D. From a photograph.

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 secessionist 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 Magoffin indignantly [375] 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 [376]

Major-General William Nelson. From a photograph. On the morning of Sept. 29th, 1862, General Nelson had an altercation with General Jefferson C. Davis in the Gait House, Louisville. General Davis shot General Nelson, who died almost instantly.-editors.

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 [377] 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. 1 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.

John C. Breckinridge, Major-General, C. S. A.; Vice-President of the United States, 1857-61; Confederate Secretary of War, appointed Jan. 28, 1865. from a daguerreotype taken about 1850.

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 [378] 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 Magoffin 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 [379] Mississippi.2 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 Johnston 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 Munfordsville, and another to go as far as Elizabethtown 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.

Buckners 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 [380]

John J. Crittenden, during four terms United States Senator from Kentucky; twice Attorney-General of the United States; ex-governor of Kentucky. From a daguerreotype taken about 1851. 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 36° 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.

Muldraugh's Hill. 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 reconnoissance 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 men 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 [381] 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 Griffiths, 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 uniform.” 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 Elizabethtown, not finding any available position at Muldraugh's Hill. A few days afterward, having on October 8th

Camp Dick Robinson — the farm-house. From a photograph taken in 1887.

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 Elizabethtown, 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 there under General Alcorn and returned to Bowling Green.

Rousseau's advance to Nolin and the arrival of large reinforcements there induced Johnston to move his headquarters from Columbus to Bowling Green, and on October 15th he sent Hardee with 1,200 men from that place against Ward at Greensburg, who, hearing of Hardee's approach, fell back with his recruits 20 miles to Campbellsville. [382]

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

Major-General Lovell H. Rousseau. From a photograph.

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 [383] 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 reinforcements. 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 Tennesseeans 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 discontent. He was 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 Prestonburg, in eastern Kentucky, threatening incursions into the central part of the State. On the 8th of November

Major-General George B. Crittenden, C. S. A. From a photograph. General Crittenden was a son of Senator John J. Crittenden.

his brother, Thomas L. Crittenden, was a Major-General in the Union army.

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] [384]

D. C. Buell. From a photograph.

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. [385] 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. Mitchel 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.3 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 [386] dispersion. 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.4 Daring 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. [387]

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 Cumberland, opposite Mill Springs) and about the same distance west of Somerset, with the 9th Ohio and 2d Minnesota of Robert L. McCook's brigade, the 10th Indiana of Manson's brigade, Kenny's battery, and a battalion of Wolford's cavalry. 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 arrival of his delayed force. Hearing that a large wagon train, sent on a foraging 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 evening of the 18th the 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 believing that Fishing Creek, which was 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 [388] 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 [389] 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 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 two of 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 Carroll'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. Standard's battery and Kenny's remaining

Brig.-Gen. Felix K. Zollicoffer, C. S. A. From a photograph.

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 Tennesseeans 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 [390] 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 breakfastless, 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,

Brigadier-General speed S. Fry. From a photograph.

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.

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 1,000 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 reconnoissance and to secure abandoned property. [391]

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, 309 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 found 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 officers 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, why didn't you send in a demand for surrender last night?” Looking at him a moment as if reflecting, Thomas replied: “Hang it, Fry, I never once thought of it.” At this time originated a saying often heard in the Western army afterward. A sprightly

National Cemetery at Logan's Cross Roads. From a recent photograph.

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 [392]

View on the battle-field of Logan's Cross Roads. From a photograph, 1887.

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.

1 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.

2 Thus the neutrality of Kentucky was first broken by the Confederates.-editors.

3 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.


4 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 war 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 reinforce 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 McDowell, 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 the three-months men. Applying the principle to your case, my idea is that Halleck shall menace Columbus, and “downriver” 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 so bad a road. Yours, very truly,

[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 cooperation:

I think it is quite plain that the center of the enemy's line — that part which you are now moving against — is the decisive point of his whole front, as it is also the most vulnerable. If it is held, or even the bridges on the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers destroyed, and your force maintains itself near those points, Bowling Green will speedily fall, and Columbus will soon follow. The work which you have undertaken is therefore of the very highest importance, without reference to the injurious effects 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.

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