Everybody knows about the big battles of the War
Between the States, but often it was the smaller, lesser-known battles that
actually changed the face of the war.
A case can be made that the beginning of the end
of the war was a battle fought in Kentucky. The Battle of Mill Springs, in Pulaski
County, was the first decisive Union victory; it broke the Confederate defensive
line across Kentucky, leading to the loss of forts Henry and Donelson, and ultimately
leading to the Battle of Shiloh.
The Battle of Mill Springs carries more names than
any other battle. Called Mill Springs by the Unionists, the most common Confederate
name is the Battle of Fishing Creek. But it's also referred to as the Battle
of Logan's Crossroads, Battle of Somerset, Battle of Clifty Creek, and Battle
of Old Fields. Those names are part of the Mill Springs Battlefield National
Historic Landmark, which includes a driving tour.
We like to combine the drive tour with visits to
other sites in the area. There are plenty of accommodations in Somerset and
other nearby towns. Our favorite is the Raintree Inn, a charming bed and breakfast
that was used as the setting for the movie Raintree County.
Start your tour outside of Nancy at the Mill Springs
National Cemetery. The graves of many Union soldiers killed at the Battle of
Mill Springs can be seen here, as well as from the Civil War until today. Of
particular note is the grave of Sgt. Brent Woods, an African-American Medal
of Honor winner.
Your second stop is two miles south of the National
Cemetery on Route 235. Known variously as Zollicoffer Park and Zollicoffer Confederate
Cemetery, this was the site of the heaviest fighting during the battle, and
it is near here that General Felix Zollicoffer was killed and is buried.
Continue south on KY 235 to Last Stand Hill, by Fairview
Cemetery. Here several regiments tried to hold back the Union advance in a last
stand that allowed other retreating Confederate units to escape. Farther south
is Timmy's Branch (stop five on the tour), where the first shots of the battle
were fired when Confederate forces and Union pickets collided here.
Follow KY 235 about four miles, watching for directional
signs for Old Mill Springs Road. Another two miles takes you to Moulden's Hill.
The Union forces halted here for the night, intending to assault the Confederate
fortifications next morning. The beaten Rebels, however, had retreated.
Less than a mile farther, at stop seven, is the site
of the Confederate camp at Beech Grove. This was Zollicoffer's headquarters
before the battle. Local legend has it that the chimney to the left of the road
is the remains of his headquarters building.
Farther south is the site of the old Mill Springs
ferry landing. The retreating Con-federates passed down this road to the ferry,
which carried them across the river to Mill Springs. You can no longer reach
Mill Springs directly because of Lake Cumberland. Instead, retrace your route
and take KY 80 from Nancy to Somerset, then take U.S. 27 south to KY 90 west.
In about 10 miles you'll come to KY 1275. Turn right, and Mill Springs Mill
is one mile farther. Mill Springs was used by Zollicoffer as his headquarters
before establishing the fortified camp at Beech Grove.
A block or so from Mill Springs is Dunagan's Store,
a quaint old-time country store that's been in operation since the 1920s, and
looks virtually unchanged.
For more information, contact: Mill Springs Battlefield
Association, P.O. Box 814, Somerset, KY 42502, (606) 679-1859; Raintree Inn,
3314 Old Highway 90, Bronston, KY 42518, (606) 561-5225.
Day Trips & Short
More Civil War sites
When the Civil War is the subject of discussion,
talk turns to the big battles. But the Bluegrass State is covered with small,
less well known sites having to do with the War Between the States.
Fort Duffield. Abraham Lincoln knew the strategic
importance of Kentucky. "To lose Kentucky," he said early in the war,
"is nearly the same as to lose the whole game."
To help assure he didn't lose it, Fort Duffield was
built on a bluff 300 feet above the junction of the Salt and Ohio rivers, near
Today it's the largest and best-preserved military
earthworks in the Commonwealth, with wooden boardwalks and maintained trails
leading to interpretive sites. Contact: Fort Duffield Heritage Committee, 1109
Elm Street, West Point, KY 40177, (502) 922-4222.
Presidential memories. Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson
Davis were born just a couple of years and a couple of counties apart. There
are monuments to both.
Near Springfield is the Lincoln Homestead State Park,
which re-creates the settlement started by the Lincoln, Hanks, and Berry families,
and where Abe was born. Contact: Lincoln Homestead State Park, 5079 Park Road,
Springfield, KY 40069, (859) 336-7461.
In Fairview is the Jefferson Davis State Historic
Site, with its 351-foot-high obelisk. An observation tower at the top offers
panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Contact: Jefferson Davis State
Historic Site, P.O. Box 10, Fairview, KY 42221, (270) 886-1765.
Jailhouse Art. The old Simpson County Jail was used
to house prisoners of war in late 1862. As is common, prisoners drew on the
walls. Some of these drawings have been preserved in what is now home to the
Simpson County Historical Society in Franklin. Contact: Simpson County Archives
& Museum, 206 N. College Street, Franklin, KY 42134, (270) 586-4228.
Electronic dog training
It had been a long time since we trained a bird
dog. Too long. So when it came time recently to start our new Llewellin setter,
Gwynn, on serious training, we naturally turned to a pro for help.
We've mentioned Eddie Shuck in the past. Eddie is
one of the best trainers we know, but he does more than train dogs. He trains
dog owners how to train their own dogs.
Eddie, like almost everyone else nowadays,
uses electronic training collars. Initially we had a problem with this, because
when these devices were first coming into vogue we saw too many dogs being "broken"
with over-shocking at too high an intensity.
Eddie quickly set us straight. "All the collar
should be," he stressed, "is an extension of the training rope."
He said, "When you tap that button, all the dog should do is turn and look
at you. If the dog even squeals, you've used too much power."
It didn't take him long to convince us. The
question was which collar to get. "If you balance cost, quality, and features,"
he recommended, "then the best collar to get is the new Lovetts combination
Training actually starts without the collar.
Instead, we began with just a training rope, rigged as a slip harness around
her flanks. She quickly learned the basic commands of "whoa" and "here."
Then we started running her with both the rope and
collar. This taught her that even though we weren't holding the rope, she was
still attached to us. With the Lovetts collar, this can be done because the
beeper is controlled by the transmitter.
We've been using this system for about a month
now, and are amazed to see how well it works, without punishing the dog. She
is under control at all times, but none of her spirit is affected.
For more information, contact: Henry Lovetts,
Lovetts Electronics, 840 E. Pinckley St., Brazil, IN 47834, (812) 446-1093;
or Eddie Shuck, Happy Ridge Quail Farm, 111 Shuck Road, Pleasureville, KY 40057,