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Mill Springs

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MILL SPRINGS, Battle of. The opening of the Kentucky-Tennessee campaign of 1862. At the close of 1861 the Confederate line ex tended from Columbus, Ky. on the Mississippi, through Fort Henry on tie Tennessee, Fort Donelson on the Cumberland, Clarksville, Tenn., and Bowling Green, Ky., to Mill Springs on the Cumberland. Gen. A. S. Johnston was in chief command. Gen. D. C. Buell was the opposing Union commander. Gen. F. K. Zollicoffer es tablished the Confederate right at Mill Springs early in December. Gen. Geo. B. Crittenden took general command there at the middle of the month, with the brigades of Zollicoffer and W. H. Carroll under him. Gen. Leonidas Polk held the Confederate left at Columbus, Gen. J. B. Floyd reached Fort Donelson 13 February, and had under him Generals Pillow, Buckner and Bushrod Johnson. Gen. A. S. Johnston was at Bowling Green, the centre. Gen. Geo. H. Thomas was on the Union left, with General Schoepf immediately opposed to Zollicoffer, while General Buell, with headquarters at Louis ville, was in close communication with the Union centre, which threatened Bowling Green and Nashville.

General Zollicoffer, having crossed from Mill Springs to the north bank of the Cumber land and entrenched his position, from which he threatened central Kentucky, General Thomas was sent against his forces, now commanded by General Crittenden, from the direction of Lebanon. On 18 January General Thomas reached Logan's Cross Roads about 10 miles from Crittenden's entrenchments. The latter officer, with the purpose of attacking before Thomas could concentrate his forces, marched at midnight of the 18th with Zollicoffer's and Carroll's brigades, consisting of eight regiments of infantry, six guns and four battalions of cavalry, and attacked General Thomas soon after daylight of 19 January.

The Union troops, consisting of six infantry regiments, one battery and a portion of a cavalry regiment, were brought rapidly into action, both sides fighting with spirit. Finally, when three fresh Union regiments fell on the Confederate right, and the 2d Minnesota was pouring a galling fire upon the centre, the 9th Ohio (German Turners) made a brilliant bayonet charge completely turning the Con federate left, resulting in the Confederate lines breaking and retiring in confusion. At this point General Schoepf's brigade from Somerset reached the field, and the whole force continued in pursuit, reaching the Confederate entrench ments during the night, and forming to assault them at daylight. During the night the Con federates succeeded in crossing their men, leav ing artillery, cavalry, horses, mules, wagons, camp equipage and private baggage. The Confederate right wing was effectually broken and largely dispersed.

The overthrow of the Confederate right was followed 6 February by the capture by Admiral Foote, acting in co-operation with General Grant, of Fort Henry on the Tennessee, and 16 February by the capture of Fort Donelson, with its artillery and garrison of about 15,000, by General Grant.

On 8 February General Johnston notified the Secretary of War that the loss of Fort Henry and the movement against Fort Donelson made the Bowling Green line untenable, and that he had directed General Hardee at Bowling Green to prepare to fall back on Nashville. The evacuation was completed 14 February, and by the 17th General Hardee had crossed the Cumberland at Nashville and proceeded toward Murfreesboro. Ten days later, all army sup plies having been sent to Chattanooga, which place was held by troops sent by General Bragg from Mobile, Johnston's army marched for the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad at Decatur, this line having been decided upon as the next for defense.

By the last of March Johnston's column had taken position at Corinth, Bragg's forces had reached him from Mobile and a portion of Polk's from Columbus.

Meantime (15 February) Bowling Green was occupied by Union forces under O. M. Mitchel. Pressing on, he reached Edgefield opposite Nashville on the 14th. Nelson's division ar rived by transports the next day, and soon after the first of March Buell's entire column, com ing partly by land and in part by river, was con centrated at Nashville.

The Union movement to Pittsburg Landing began 10 March by the dispatch of Gen. W. T. Sherman's division from Paducah up the Ten nessee. It proceeded, under orders of Gen. C. F. Smith, to the vicinity of Eastport; but find ing all streams inland at flood, the expedition dropped back to Pittsburg Landing, where it found Hurlbut's division. The latter took post one and one-half miles back 18 February, and Sherman's the next day about three miles back, at Shiloh Church. These were followed within a few days by the divisions of Prentiss, Mc Clernand and W. H. W. Wallace, each selecting its own camp without special reference to a general line, the movement being regarded as a concentration preparatory to an advance on Corinth. Gen. Lew Wallace's division was halted at Crump's Landing, five miles below Pittsburg. General Grant arrived and assumed command 17 March, establishing his head quarters at Savannah nine miles below, on the opposite side of the Tennessee.

General Buell's advance left Nashville 15 March tojoin General Grant at Savannah. After marching 130 miles in nine days he was stopped by high water in Duck River. necessitat ing bridging, and then marched the remaining 90 miles in six days. General Grant had ad vised him that it was not necessary to hurry, as he would not be ready to cross his command over the river till 8 April. However, Buell pushed on and fortunately reached Savannah with the head of his column the night of the 5th. General Johnston, with the design of at tacking Grant before Buell could join him, had marched from Corinth 3 April, with the ex pectation of attacking on the 5th, but heavy rains delayed his columns, and his unexpected attack was delivered soon after daylight of 6 April, thus opening the battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing. See Simoit, BATTLE OF.