Union Correspondence Part 1 of 4

The Official Records pertaining to the Battle of Mill Springs, KY, January 19, 1862

Including: Letters, Photographs and other significant documents

Compiled by COL Jerry McFarland, William Neikirk, David Gilbert and The Mill Springs Battlefield Association



LEBANON, December 12, 1861

Brig. Gen. D. C. Buell:


.....Dispatch from General Boyle just received.  His spy sent to Mill Springs, just returned, reports enemy not over 7,500 strong, according to their statement.  Spy believes these are not over 6,500.  He was through their camp.  They have but eight pieces of artillery.


GEO. H. THOMAS, Brigadier-General



Near Somerset, Ky., December 12, 1861

(Received December 16, 1861)

Capt. GEORGE E. FLYNT, Assistant Adjutant-General, First Division, Lebanon, Ky.


.....CAPTAIN:  Since my arrival at this place I have received Special Orders, No. 23, detaching the Twelfth Brigade from First Division, and requiring me to report direct to department headquarters.

.....The consolidated reports of the First and Second East Tennessee and Third Kentucky Regiments were forwarded direct to department headquarters.  Is it necessary for me to send duplicates to headquarters First Division?

.....Reports this afternoon say that the rebel Zollicoffer is throwing up defenses this side the river, near Mill Springs.  If this is the case, he could be readily captured by sending a force from Columbia via Jamestown to Monticello and taking him in rear.


Embracing communications received too late for insertion in proper sequence.



Columbia, Ky., January 3, 1862

General BUELL, Commanding: Department of the Ohio, Louisville, Ky.


.....SIR:  General Zollicoffer has received re-enforcements to amount of size regiments--- about 4,000 men.  I learn this reliably.  Zollicoffer has sent a force down on this side the Cumberland as far as Wolf Creek, with teams, to forage the country.  A considerable cavalry force has been in Jamestown.

.....I am informed today that a part of Zollicoffer's force is at the mouth of Greasy Creek, 6 miles beyond Jamestown in Russell County.  They are preparing to fortify themselves at mouth of Greasy Creek, on the Cumberland.  If time is given them they will soon be fortified so as not to be dislodged without great loss.  If prompt action was taken they could be prevented taking and holding the position.  As soon as they secure the point they will take Burkesville.  They will now have possession of the Cumberland River.  They have six or seven little steamboats at Celina ready to come up with clothing, commissary stores, & etc.  They will ravage and devastate the whole country along the river, feeding their people and leaving ours to starve.

.....I will be obliged to you to send Captain Gilbert here, and that you immediately telegraph the President to appoint Captain Gilbert brigadier-general in my place.

.....I will write you fully on this subject on tomorrow.  If it be the purpose of the President to appoint me, of which I am not advised, I think I ought to decline the appointment in favor of Captain Gilbert or any really qualified man.

.....My letter will explain itself.


Respectfully, & etc.:



Embracing communications received too late for insertion in proper sequence.

January 27, 1862

Lieutenant-Colonel COLBURN, Assistant Adjutant-General, Washington, D.C.:


.....General Thomas had orders to pursue the enemy with all possible vigor but the difficulty of crossing the river delayed the pursuit, which now would perhaps be fruitless, as all information goes to show that they are entirely dispersed.  General Schoepf, however, is, I suppose, in Monticello today, where there being no enemy to pursue, he will remain until further orders.  The rest of the division is at Mill Springs and Somerset, collecting captured property and repairing the road, which is nearly impassable.  I have four regiments at work corduroying it entirely for a distance of about 40 miles.  It will not otherwise be possible to carry trains over it.  Even now it is with the greatest difficulty that the troops there are imperfectly supplied with provisions.

.....The principal part of General Carter's brigade has been at Somerset.  I have ordered it back to the Cumberland Gap route to advance on the Gap.  When I ordered Thomas forward to attack Zollicoffer I expected by the time that was accomplished to be able to advance him at once into East Tennessee, but want of transportation and the condition of the roads have thus far rendered it impossible.


D. C. BUELL, Brigadier-General, Commanding


Columbia, Ky., November 20, 1861



.....I am here with my regiment safe in camp.  The danger at this place is not now threatening.  The enemy has again fallen back to Monroe County.  Zollicoffer's forces, under General Lee, have been moving across the mountain towards Jamestown, Tenn., or Camp McGinnis.  I have not, however, been able to hear anything from them since they passed through Huntsville, in Scott County.  We sent some five of Colonel Wolford's men through Clinton to scout, but they have not yet had time to get in.

.....If you can get all your forces here with General Boyle's and General Ward's, you can make a movement upon Buckner's flank and successfully turn him.  I do not doubt that a forward movement from here would make him retreat from Kentucky precipitated.  He is not near so strong as represented.  His forces do not exceed 20,000, and a movement upon his flank before he is re-enforced by General Lee would run him from Kentucky.  The movements he is making I am persuaded are to cover his weakness and hold in check a forward movement until he can be re-enforced.  Such I am now convinced is the cause of all these threatening movements upon Clinton, Wayne, Cumberland, Barren, etc.  It is but the trick of a desperate gamester.

.....I hope to see you soon at this place, and would not be in the least surprised if your movement in this direction does not cause a hasty retreat from Kentucky anyhow, especially if they take up the idea that it is a flank movement, as Buckner will be apt to do. (*)



THO. E. BRAMLETTE, Colonel First Regiment Infantry, Kentucky Volunteers


Columbia, Ky., November 27, 1861---2:30 a.m.

(Received November 29, 1861)

General THOMAS:


.....Since writing to you last evening Mr. E. L. Van Winkle has just come in with dispatches from Colonel Hoskins, who says that two regiments of infantry and one of cavalry are preparing and perhaps crossing on a raft at Mill Springs, 12 miles below him, on the Cumberland.

.....I cannot give full credit to the crossing, but it may be true.  I still think they are only preparing to steal what they can in the way of provisions and retire; but they ought to be and could be hemmed in and cut off from here with proper movement and sufficient force.  It will not do for the threes here to leave the stores unprotected, for the reason that the rebel pickets have advanced to Edmonton, 20 miles from here, and threaten us with forces coming on.

.....Although I do not believe they have the forces behind, yet it will not be prudent to weaken this point while the question is one of doubt.

.....If you will throw forward two or three regiments, with one or two batteries, and give me authority, I can leave enough to protect this place and take enough to knock these scoundrels on the head and stop this eternal annoyance by the raids of these hog-stealers.  They are taking mules, hogs, etc., as they go, and, unless driven out and crushed, will desolate the counties of Wayne, Clinton, and Cumberland.

.....Were there sufficient forces to protect the stores here and let me have what could move front here now, I could get in behind these marauders and cut them entirely off.  They report Zollicoffers forces just behind, and that I think is all humbug.

.....Lieutenant Nell is sick, and I have no one to work his artillery in his absence.  Can't the Ohio batteries be hurried up?

.....There are ample forces from Lebanon and on this way for all the present needs if they were up this far.



THO. E. BRAMLETTE, Colonel First Regiment Infantry, Kentucky Volunteers


Louisville, November 27, 1861

General THOMAS, Lebanon:


.....Send General Schoepf, with one section of artillery, Wolford's cavalry and the nearest regiment of infantry rapidly to Somerset to relieve Hoskins, who is threatened by Zollicoffer.  Vary force if later information makes advisable.  Be at all times ready to advance.





Pulaski County, Ky., November 27, 1861

(Received November 28, 1861)

Brigadier-General THOMAS, Headquarters, Danville, Ky.


.....GENERAL:  I have received no reliable news from the rebel forces across the river for twenty-four hours.  On last evening they came (some 20 in number) across the river opposite our encampment, but a preparation to level the artillery at them dispersed them immediately.

.....About the same time my picket guard at the river at Mill Springs, 12 miles below this point, at which their cavalry are encamped had a skirmish, in which 4 of the rebels were killed in eight shots from our Colt's rifles at a distance of 300 yards, and strange to say, although they fired some hundred shots at our party, they escaped unhurt.  I have had all the boats on the river for several miles below and above this point sunk, and as they have but two boats of small capacity at Mill Springs, should they attempt to cross at that point I shall meet and amuse them before they get over a force sufficient to cut us off.

.....I am not inclined to the belief that their force is strong, whether Zollicoffer be with them or not.  Some five negroes (fugitives) from Monticello, Wayne County, report that a strong force is now at and this side Monticello, and as all communication between this and that side the river has been cut off for two years by the main road, I am inclined to the belief that it is true.

.....All my buck and ball cartridges are now distributed, and I send up the wagon for a supply, which you will oblige us by forwarding as expeditiously as possible.

.....I shall send a scout to the opposite side of the river, with orders to proceed as far as Monticello, if possible, and on his return I hope to be enabled to give you reliable information of their numbers.


Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. A. HOSKINS, Colonel, Commanding Fourth Regiment, Kentucky Volunteers




Pulaski County, Ky., November 27, 1861

(Received November 29, 1861)

Brig. Gen. GEORGE H. THOMAS, Headquarters, Lebanon, Ky.


.....GENERAL:  Can you not send us Captain Hewett's battery?  If we had him here with his battery I feel confident we could maintain our position at this place.

.....With a battery we could drive them from their position at Mill Springs, as there is a position on this side the river opposite their encampment which commands it at a range of one-half mile, and as the ground slopes from that elevation to the water's edge with a precipitous bluff on the south side of the river, it is impossible to reach them without artillery.  At the same time we are shelling them from that position we could leave a section of the battery at this place to prevent their effecting a crossing at this point should they attempt it, as they in all probability would do if they have the force which they are represented to have.  I am anxious to hold our position, believing as I do that it is due the country from the noble stand which they have taken in favor of the Union, and once they have possessed this point there is no point of advantage for us to impede their march north until we reach the north <ar7_454> side of the Kentucky River, and I find their strength increasing by accession of those who, while we held possession of the counties below this, professed to be good Union men.

.....Our pickets had a skirmish on last evening with theirs at Mill Springs, in which 4 of theirs were killed with eight shots at a distance of 300 yards and although they fired some hundred shots at our pickets they came off unharmed.  I now have out a strong picket guard to prevent a surprise and hope on tomorrow to be able to lead some of their party into an ambush and I have sunk all the boats for several miles along the river with the exception of two small ones (capable of ferrying 40 men at a time), and as I kept a picket within view of them all the time should they attempt to cross their whole force I shall endeavor to be upon them before they can get a force over sufficient to overcome us.

.....If it is possible for you to send the battery please do so as soon as possible.


Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. A. HOSKINS, Colonel, Commanding Post


Lebanon, November 28, 1861

General BUELL:


.....Express from Colonel Bramlette at 2 o'clock this morning.  He says the enemy is now in Wayne County, advancing towards the river;  some at Monticello and others at Mill Springs ten regiments strong; one piece of artillery.  His scouts have just gotten in from Clinton; they were within 200 yards of the enemy's camp last night; examined well; saw and talked with friends on the road, and reported the facts to him.  Will you order the movement of any of the troops here?






November 28, 1861--10 a.m.

Brig. Gen. GEORGE H. THOMAS, Headquarters, Lebanon, Ky.


.....GENERAL:  My Scouts have just returned from Clinton County, and report that the rebels (10,000) are certainly advancing.  They report a transportation train of 140 wagons, but give no account of any artillery.  They say that Zollicoffer is with them, which I think probable, as they have not had that number of troops anywhere below this.

.....If you could send me Hewett's battery to this place, and send in below their crossing at Greasy Creek about six regiments among the number Wolford's, we might be able to overcome them; at all events we would like to have a force sufficient to make show of resistance at this point.

.....Please let me know by bearer whether we can hope for any assistance from above, and, if so, what amount; and how soon they will probably be up.


Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. A. HOSKINS, Colonel, Commanding Post



November 28, 1861

(Received November 29, 1861)

General Thomas


.....GENERAL:  There is no doubt that Zollicoffer, with 8,000 men is in Clinton and Wayne, the advance being close [to] the Cumberland River.  They will cross the river in a short time and take Somerset, and go on to Danville or Crab Orchard, if not prevented.  They are at this time constructing boats to cross the river on.  There's no doubt but that the enemy are advancing from Bowling Green; they are at this time, with strong pickets, in 20 miles of this place.  The enemy can be whipped at Cumberland River if a force is immediately sent there.  Excuse me for urging sufficient force being sent forward to whip them at once.




Louisville, November 29, 1851

General THOMAS:


.....I have a communication from General Boyle; he will speak to you on the subject.

.....I don't expect Zollicoffer to cross the Cumberland in force, but he will try by demonstrations to drive us from Somerset, or even attack there if we are not watchful, and he will prepare the means of crossing, so as to threaten our flank if we advance.  We will be organized today; in the meantime consider yourself in command of everything east of New Haven, but make no important move without referring to me, except to avert immediate danger.

.....Send intrenching tools rapidly to Somerset.  Direct General Schoepf to throw up as rapidly as possible a small closed work for four and six guns which will command the river up and down and the crossing.  Captain Prime will go down in the morning to direct it; at the same time Schoepf must match Zollicoffer, and not only guard against his crossing, but, if possible, prevent him from collecting the means of doing so.

.....Send five companys of Calvary to Schoepf for scouts, if you think proper.  Get your regiments in order as rapidly as possible and be always ready to move.  I wish to avoid for the present anything like threatening demonstrations, and only be prepared for emergencies until we are ready to act.


D. C. BUELL, Brigadier-General, Commanding



Lebanon, November 29, 1861

Col. W. A. HOSKINS, Commanding Camp Hoskins, near Somerset, Ky.


.....COLONEL:  In the absence of the commanding general I have opened your dispatch of the 28th instant.  The general will be here today, when your communication will be laid before him.

.....I will state, however, for your information that General Schoepf is moving towards your camp with nineteen companies of infantry and one battery of Ohio artillery, and will probably reach you as soon, or nearly so, as this communication.


Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEO. E. FLYNT, Assistant Adjutant-General


Columbia, Ky.,

November 29, 1861

(Received November 30, 1861)



.....I received a dispatch before day this morning from Burkesville that 200 rebel cavalry were at the ferry on the south side of the river; a few of them crossed over and went to Boles, saw and arranged with him and his partners for the slaughter of hogs, and returned.  The courier informed me that the men who are acting for the rebels are killing and packing a large number of hogs at Burkesville, viz., J. B. Alexander, J. R. Ryan, James and Sam. Boles, and Robert Cross.

.....I have no doubt but steamboats will be up in a few days and carry off the large amount of pork, wheat, etc., the rebels are gathering upon the river.  All this could be prevented by a force being stationed at Burkesville with artillery to command the river.  The rebels are now in possession of the river from Mill Springs down.  I sent out scouts towards Glasgow; then went as far as Edmonton, and returned with a rebel flag, which the rebel cavalry had hoisted there the day before.  I have a small number at Lairville, opposite Rowena, seven, including James Ferguson.

.....On yesterday some 50 rebel cavalry appeared on the southern bank.  Ferguson and his squad fired upon them, and after about four rounds the rebels fled, leaving one fine horse wounded in the hind leg, some blankets, etc., which our scouts secured.

.....I sent Colonel Wolford to the aid of Colonel Hoskins with 500 cavalry, embracing part of Colonel Haggard's command.

.....As I have before advised, the rebels are at Mill Springs, in force about 8,000, but as yet have not crossed the river; and I do not believe will.  I am still unshaken in the conviction that their purpose is to seize all the wheat, corn, fat hogs, mules, they can south of the river and return perhaps by steamboats or other craft; perhaps fall back to their former camps in Tennessee.

.....It would be an easy matter to hem them in were there sufficient forces to make the movement from here.  Two days' easy march would throw us in their rear, so that, with the river in front and around and we in their rear, no escape would be left.



THO. E. BRAMLETTE, Colonel First Regiment Infantry, Kentucky Volunteers


Union orders of Battle as of 2 Dec 1861




Louisville, Ky., November 30, 1861

The following organization of brigades will be observed until further orders:


First Brigade

Brigadier-General SCHOEPF, commanding

33rd Indiana

12th Kentucky

17th Ohio

38th Ohio


Second Brigade

Colonel MANSON, commanding

10th Indiana

4th Kentucky

10th Kentucky

14th Ohio


Third Brigade

Colonel McCOOK, commanding

2d Minnesota

9th Ohio

35th Ohio

18th U. S. Infantry


Fourth Brigade

Brigadier-General ROUSSEAU, commanding

6th Indiana

3d Kentucky

1st Ohio

15th and 19th U. S. Infantry (battalion)


Fifth Brigade

Brigadier-General WOOD, commanding

34th Illinois

29th Indiana

30th Indiana

77th Pennsylvania


Sixth Brigade

Brigadier-General JOHNSON, commanding

39d Indiana

39th Indiana

15th Ohio

49th Ohio


Seventh Brigade

Brigadier-General NEGLEY, commanding

38th Indiana

78th Pennsylvania

79th Pennsylvania

1st Wisconsin


Eighth Brigade

Colonel TURCHIN, commanding

19th Illinois

24th Illinois

37th Indiana

18th Ohio


Ninth Brigade

Colonel SILL, commanding

3d Ohio

21st Ohio

33d Ohio

10th Wisconsin


Tenth Brigade

Colonel AMMEN, commanding

34th Indiana

36th Indiana

6th Ohio

24th Ohio


Eleventh Brigade

Brigadier-General BOYLE, commanding

1st Kentucky

9th Kentucky

2d Ohio

59th Ohio


Twelfth Brigade,

Acting Brigadier-General CARTER, commanding

31st Ohio

6th Kentucky

1st Tennessee

2d Tennessee


Thirteenth Brigade

Colonel CRUFT, commanding

31st Indiana

44th Indiana

17th Kentucky

____ Kentucky


Fourteenth Brigade

____ ____, commanding

42d Indiana

43d Indiana

11th Kentucky

____ Kentucky


Fifteenth Brigade

Colonel HASCALL, commanding

15th Indiana

17th Indiana

41st Ohio

51st Ohio


Sixteenth Brigade

____ ____, commanding

13th Kentucky

15th Kentucky

9th Michigan

3d Minnesota


By command of Brigadier-General BUELL,

[JAMES B. FRY], Assistant Adjutant-General


Memorandum of regiments under Brig. Gen. GEORGE H. THOMAS command, November 30, 1861.



31st Ohio Infantry

Hewett's Battery



33d Indiana Infantry



1st Kentucky Infantry

1st Kentucky Cavalry



3d Kentucky Infantry

1st East Tennessee Infantry

2d East Tennessee Infantry



____ Kentucky Infantry

17th Ohio Infantry

38th Ohio Infantry

Battery B, Ohio Artillery



10th Indiana Infantry

2d Kentucky Infantry

____ Kentucky Infantry (en route for)

____ Kentucky Infantry

14th Ohio Infantry

Battery C, Ohio Artillery


Paducah, Ky.,

November 30, 1861



.....Enemy 600 to 1,000 strong, reported in camp at Caseyville, with intention to attack.  I have sent three companies and a howitzer to Cave in Rock; also the Conostoga, as circumstances may require.


C. F. SMITH, Brigadier-General, Commanding






Louisville, Ky., December 2, 1861

The following organization of divisions will be observed until further orders:


First Division

Brig. Con. G. H. THOMAS, commanding

1st Brigade

2d Brigade

3d Brigade

11th Brigade

12th Brigade

1st Kentucky Cavalry (Wolford's)

Battery B, Ohio

Battery C, Ohio

Hewett's Kentucky Battery

____ Indiana Cavalry (squadron)


Second Division

Brig. Gen. A. McD. McCOOK, commanding

4th Brigade

5th Brigade

6th Brigade

7th Brigade

2d Kentucky Cavalry (Board's)

Stone's Battery

Cotter's Battery

Mueller's Battery

Squadron Indiana Cavalry, Captain Graham


Third Division

Brig. Gen. O. M. MITCHELL, commanding

8th Brigade

9th Brigade

17th Brigade


Fourth Division

Brig. Con. W. NELSON, commanding

10th Brigade

15th Brigade

19th Brigade


Fifth Division

Brig. Gen. T . L. CRITTENDEN, commanding

13th Brigade

14th Brigade

3d Regiment Kentucky Cavalry (Jackson's)

____ Battery



By command of Brigadier-General BUELL,

[JAMES B. FRY], Assistant Adjutant-General


Lebanon, Ky.,

December 3, 1861---11 p.m.

General D. C. BUELL, Headquarters, Louisville:


.....I have just received a dispatch from General Schoepf.  The enemy are opposite Somerset and have commenced cannonading Hoskins' camp.  He says the strength of the enemy is estimated, from the best accounts  he can get, of the following numbers:  At Mill Springs, 2,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry at Captain Wiatt's farm.  2 miles from Mill Springs, 1,000 infantry at Steubenville.  2 miles farther west, is 2,000 infantry and at Monticello, 5 miles from Steubenville, 3,000 infantry.  I have sent to Colonels Walker and Van Derveer to march to his relief as rapidly as they can.  When these two regiments reach him he will have five regiments of infantry and one battery of artillery.


GEO. H. THOMAS, Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers




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