"I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.” - Abraham Lincoln, 1861
Fought on January 19, 1862, the Battle of Mill Springs was one of Kentucky’s largest Civil War battles. It was also the Union Army’s first major victory in the war, following the disastrous defeat at the Battle of First Manassas the previous summer. This Union victory helped boost morale at a time when the Union Army was not faring well in other theaters and forced the Confederates from the field in a retreat that ended in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Mill Springs, along with the Union’s victory at Middle Creek on January 10, 1862, broke whatever Confederate strength there was in eastern Kentucky.
This past January--150 years after the smoke of the battle had cleared--Representatives Harold Rogers (R-KY), along with Reps. Guthrie (R-KY) and Yarmuth (D-KY), introduced HR 3792 on January 12, 2012, directing the Secretary of Interior to conduct a special resource study to determine if the Mill Springs Battlefield warranted inclusion in the National Park System.
In 2007, Mill Springs Battlefield Association opened a 10,000 square foot visitor center and museum for the purpose of interpreting and educating visitors about the Battle of Mill Springs. Interactive interpretive exhibits, state-of-the-art archives, a gift shop, and meeting rooms are adjacent to the association’s 500 acres of battlefield land. In addition, the Association maintains more than 2 miles of hiking trails and an 8-mile, 10-stop driving tour with more than 20 interpretive panels. It is the goal of the association to donate all of the battlefield acreage, historic homes on the property, and the visitor center to the federal government with the condition that the site be designated a unit of the national park system.
The excellent condition of the battlefield, the Confederate fortifications and encampment, and the historical homes is remarkable. In addition, the site contains an active National Cemetery, administered by the Veterans Administration with ongoing burials, a Confederate Cemetery, and sites of confederate mass graves.
“A National Park Service designation ensures protection of the battlefield, and adds a new dimension to a region that attracts tourism around the natural resources of Lake Cumberland,” said Nelson Weaver, broker and co-owner of Key Associates Waterfront Realty in Somerset Kentucky, and member of the Mill Springs Battlefield Association’s Board of Directors. “The history of the battle is directly tied to the Cumberland River and the geographic characteristics of the area.”
IN 1991, the National Park Service put Mill Springs Battlefield on the Most Endangered Battlefields list. The Mill Springs Battlefield Association was established in 1992 as a pilot program for battlefield preservation. In conjunction with the NPS American Battlefield Protection Program, the State Historic Preservation Office and the Kentucky Heritage Council the association has pursued its mission to preserve, protect and interpret the Mill Springs Battlefield and has done a remarkable job of restoring this site.
Now your help is crucial. Please let Senator Paul and Senator McConnell know that you want them to provide federal protection for one of Kentucky’s historic treasures, the Mill Springs Battlefield.