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Mill spring, battle of

At Beech Grove and Mill Spring, Ky., there were gathered by the middle of January, 1862, about 10,000 effective Confederate soldiers, with twenty pieces of artillery, under the command of General Crittenden. Gen. George H. Thomas was sent to attack them, and, if successful, to push over the Cumberland Mountains and liberate the east Tennesseeans from Confederate rule. He divided his forces, giving a smaller number to the command of General Schoepf, and leading the remainder himself. When he was within 10 miles of the Confederate camp the insurgents came out to meet him. At early dawn (Jan. 19) the Confederates, 5.000 strong, led by Zollicoffer, met the Union pickets—Woolford's cavalry. A severe battle was soon afterwards begun on the side of the Nationals by the Kentucky and Ohio regiments and Captain Kinney's battery. It was becoming very warm, when Col. R. L. McCook came up with Ohio and Minnesota troops, also a Tennessee brigade and a section of artillery. For a time it was doubtful which side would prevail. They were hotly contesting the possession of a commanding hill when Zollicoffer was killed at the head of his column. General Crittenden immediately took his place, and the struggle for the hill continued about two hours. A galling fire from Minnesota troops and a charge of Ohio troops with bayonets compelled the Confederates to give way and retreat towards their camp at Beech Grove. They were hard pressed by the Nationals, who had gained a position where their great guns commanded the Confederate works and the ferry across the Cumberland River. Such was the situation when the conflict ended that evening. The next morning the Confederates were gone. The beleaguered troops had escaped silently across the river, under cover of darkness, abandoning everything in their camp and destroying the vessels that carried them over the stream. The Nationals lost 247 men, of whom thirty-nine were killed; the Confederates lost 349, of whom 192 were killed and eighty-nine were made prisoners.

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January, 1862 AD (1)
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