Report of Chaplain L. F. Drake

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

 
 
Camp near Somerset, Ky.
Jan. 21st, 1862
Sir:
.....I have been requested to write you a few lines....giving a brief account of the battle that was fought at Logan's Cross Roads, "alias Fishing Creek" on Sunday, the 19th inst.  The battle was commenced about 7 o'clock in the morning by the Rebels.  They first fired upon our pickets who were compelled to retreat until re-inforced.  The battle lasted four hours, when the enemy retreated in great haste to reach their intrenchments.
.....They had, as far as I can see, eight regiments of infantry, one to two regiments of cavalry and several pieces of Artillery.  Our forces consisted of six regiments of infantry to wit: 10th Indiana; 4th Kentucky; 2d Minnesota; 1st Tennessee; 12th Kentucky; 9th Ohio; and Standart's battery.
.....In their fight the Rebels left one piece of Artillery and several wagons.  COL. McCook of the 9th Ohio had his horse killed and was wounded himself in the leg but not dangerously so.  The enemy was led on by Gens. Crittenden and Zollicoffer.  Our forces were commanded by Gen. Thomas.  Gen. Zollicoffer was killed in the early part of the battle by COL. Fry in the following manner: The morning was wet and a little foggy and it so happened that Gen. Zollicoffer and COL. Fry got close together.  In fact, their horses were so near to each other that the riders could have shaken hands, if they had been so disposed.  Neither of them was acquainted with or knew the other.  Zollicoffer said to COL. Fry, "We must try and not let our men be cut up more than can possibly be helped."  COL. Fry, supposing that Zollicoffer was one of our own men remarked, "Certainly, we must prevent it as much as possible."  They then separated, and when Zollicoffer had got some distance from Fry some one from the enemy's ranks fired at Fry and shot his horse.  Fry then saw that Zollicoffer was a Rebel, and fired at him with his pistol, shooting him through the heart.  Zollicoffer dropped the reins of his bridle, threw up both hands, clasped his breast, looked around, and at that instant a private soldier shot him in the side and he immediately fell dead from his horse.
.....The battle was truly a hard-fought one.  They charged bayonets upon our men and were repulsed.  We could distinctly hear the firing from our men up near Somerset.  Gen. Thomas sent a dispatch to Gen. Schoepf to bring up his men.  In a short time the four Ohio regiments were here to win the 17th, 31st, 35th and 38th were enroute to the battlefield.
.....Before we arrived the enemy had fled.  Our men encamped for the night a few miles on this side of the enemy's entrenchments; and although wet and muddy, they laid down upon the ground, without any tents and after sleeping and resting a few hours, they rose ate a few mouthfuls then started in search of the enemy.
.....You will ask me if I saw Zollicoffer, the rebel General.  Yes, I was permitted to see him cold in death, stretched out on a board in a tent.  He was about six feet tall, and well built.  One of the finest heads that I ever saw upon the shoulders of any man.  The South have lost one of their bravest and best generals.  With the death of Zollicoffer, and their being driven from their entrenchments, they have lost their entire army on the Cumberland river.
.....The crossing of Fishing Creek by our forces, was one of the grandest and most imposing sights that I have ever witnessed.  To see three or four thousand men plunging into a deep rapid stream of water in order to come to the support of our national flag is truly commendable.  Several crossed over in wagons and some on horseback; but eight tenths of them I should think waded across.  As the stream was considerable swollen, a long rope was stretched across the creek and the ends tied to a tree on each side.  The men then plunged into the water and held onto the rope to keep them from being driven downstream by a strong current of water.  The men then at night laid down upon the damp ground with their wet clothes on them and you may judge how much and how comfortably they must have slept in this condition.
.....You will doubtless hear from many of our men and I will close by saying that the day is fast approaching when the men that opposed this war in various ways, will feel sorry that they were ever born for the edict has gone forth that this rebellion must be put down and when it is traitors and political tricksters will go down with it and may God have mercy upon them.
 
L. F. Drake
Chap 31st Reg. O. V. M.

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