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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

January 19th, 1862 - The Battle of Mill Springs

Conflict: American Civil War

Combatants: Confederates vs. Federals

Location: Kentucky (USA)

Outcome: Federal victory


Despite its neutral status in the early American Civil War, both the North and the South deployed troops in Kentucky. In January of 1862, 4,000 Confederates under the command of Generals Felix Zollicoffer and George Crittenden launched marched up from Cumberland Gap and crossed the Cumberland River. Out of Lebanon, a Federal force of roughly equal size, under the command of Brigadier General George H. Thomas, moved south to confront the Confederates.


Battle Near Mill Springs, KY. Death of Gen. Zollicoffer by F.O.C. Darley and R. Dudensing

On the the morning of January 18th, the lead elements of the two armies clashed at Logan Cross Roads. Zollicoffer was killed in the engagement and the Confederate left was broken by the Federals. Crittenden ordered a withdraw across the river. The disorderly retreat cost the Confederates dearly. In addition to over 500 killed and wounded, the Southerners lost all their canon, over 1000 horses, and 100 wagons loaded with ammunition and food. The Federals lost 39 killed and 207 wounded.


Battle of Mills Springs by Currier and Ives

Points of Interest:

  • At this point in the war, this was the most costly defeat for the Confederate States of American (CSA).

  • Crittenden was arrested for his failure, resigned his commission, and was jailed until November 1862. He served as the state librarian of Kentucky after the war.

  • The defeat at Mills Spring left a hole in the Confederate line of defense which allowed the North to shift focus farther westward.

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Sources:

Bowman, John S. (Ed.) (1983). The Civil War Almanac. New York: World Almanac.


Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).


Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.


Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

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