Histopolis features a different cemetery, town, county or other place every day on the Place-of-The-Day.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
"Mill Springs National Cemetery is situated on a high, sloping knob in Pulaski County near Logan's Cross Roads in Kentucky. Located 10 miles west of Somerset on Highway 80 at Nancy, Ky., it was originally established as Logan’s Cross Roads National Cemetery in the early 18th century. Kentucky contains one of the highest concentrations of NCA-managed national cemeteries and soldier’s lots in a single state seven in all.
"Kentucky lay between the Union and Confederate forces and was a state divided in spite of its effort to avoid the Civil War. The Union armies gathered 90,000 Kentucky men under their flag; the Confederacy gathered more than 40,000 men from the southern part of the state.
"One of the first Kentucky battles involving a sizable number of troops occurred in Pulaski County on William H. Logan's farm. This event has several names—Beech Grove, Fishing Creek, Logan's Cross Roads—and the Battle of Mill Springs. Brig. Gen. Felix K. Zollicoffer of Nashville, Tenn., was in charge of the southeastern sector of the Confederate army. Having fortified the gaps in the Cumberland range, he moved southward and took position at Mill Springs on the south bank of the Cumberland River—five miles below the mouth of Fishing Creek. This stream crossed the roads leading from Somerset to the ferry at Mill Springs.
"On Dec. 9, 1861, Zollicoffer crossed the river and made camp on the north bank at a place called Beech Grove. The hill was protected on three sides by the river and left about 1,200 yards of fighting front to defend. Gen. George B. Crittenden arrived at Mill Springs and assumed command about Jan. 1. Although he did not like Zollicoffer's position, "with an enemy in front and a river behind” he took no measures to recall him. Regardless of instructions to remain strictly defensive, Crittenden also moved to Beech Grove with a force of 6,444 soldiers. After the withdrawal of Confederate forces from neighboring Laurel County, Union Gen. Albin F. Schoepf was ordered to Somerset with about 5,000 infantry. In mid-January 1862, Brig. Gen. George H. Thomas departed Lebanon, Ky., for Somerset with his army. The combined troops of 12,000 men were to assault the Confederate forces of Crittenden and Zollicoffer at Mill Springs.
"A Confederate Council of War met and decided that Thomas’ forces should be defeated before they could assemble and assault Crittenden. On Jan. 19, 1862, the battle raged from morning until dark. Early in the fighting Zollicoffer was killed, which had a demoralizing effect on his troops. The Confederates were dispersed and retreated across the Cumberland River into Tennessee. Largely forgotten today, and overshadowed in its own time by battles at Shiloh and Fort Donelson, Mill Springs was the first significant Union victory of the Civil War. It proved crucial to Union control of Kentucky and the interior South and shaped later developments in the war. Mill Springs was important for another reason: it revealed the deep divisions that existed throughout the border states.
"After the battle, Thomas laid out the burial grounds on a portion of the Mill Springs battlefield. The victors gathered their dead and buried them in neat rows a mile from where they fell. Within five years after the April 1865 surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, Va., a vast reburial program was completed with some 300,000 Civil War dead being reinterred in 73 national cemeteries. Locally, soldiers were disinterred from Monticello, Columbia and elsewhere in the state and reinterred at Mill Springs. According to early records, 408 of the 722 graves recorded in the burial ledger were unknowns who had been disinterred from other locations and whose names were lost or weathered away from their crude "headboards."
"In 1867, William H. and Nancy S. Logan donated additional land to the government for the national cemetery. He died Oct. 16, 1884, and she died March 24, 1896. Both are interred in the national cemetery with gravesites marked by private monuments.
"Mill Springs National Cemetery was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998."
Note: The first Place-of-the-Day was in September 2010