Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/246

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


The Occupation of Nashville.—1862

THE quietude that reigned in Kentucky was suddenly broken in the latter part of January, 1862, by the collision between General Thomas and General Zollicoffer in what is known as the “battle of Mill Springs,” though it hardly deserved the name. Zollicoffer, having established himself on the north bank of the Cumberland River, on the road from the Gap to the central part of the State, caused a good deal of annoyance and suffering by sending raiding parties in different directions, as well as by repeated advances and retreats with his main body, which were met by counter-movements by the Federal brigade of General Schoepf, charged by General Thomas to watch the enemy. To put an end to these inflictions, Buell finally authorized Thomas to advance with his division toward the Cumberland. He reached a point ten miles from the rebel encampment on January 18, with part of his forces. The enemy was apprised of his approach, and decided to attack him before all his command had come up. The encounter took place on the following day. Zollicoffer having been killed early in the fight, the rebels lost their cohesion, and were beaten back after a struggle of several hours. They retreated in disorder to their fortified camp at Mill Springs. The Unionists followed them closely and surrounded their position during the night. In the morning it was discovered that the enemy had crossed the Cumberland in the darkness, leaving behind them twelve pieces of artillery, small arms, supplies, and their wounded. It was a very creditable victory for the Union cause, as the rebel strength was one-third greater than General Thom-