To Be Or Not To Be: A Kentucky Battlefield’s Drive to Become a National Park

By Elizabeth Smith ’17

On January 4, 2016 a large group of people met in the theater of the Mill Springs Battlefield Visitor Center in Nancy, Kentucky. Only a few weeks shy of the 154th anniversary of the small Kentucky battle, these individuals gathered on the chilly night to attend a public forum in support of the addition of Mill Springs into the National Park system.

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On January 4, people gathered to attend a public forum at the Mill Springs Battlefield Visitor Center. Photograph taken by author January 2016.

The Battle of Mill Springs occurred on January 19, 1862 between Confederate forces under Felix Zollicoffer and Union forces under George H. Thomas. The battle begin in the early morning fog and would continue for four hours in a cold rainstorm. Men from Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota, Indiana, and Alabama would meet at the fields near Logan’s Crossroads where they would engage in a short but influential fight that would see the death of Zollicoffer supposedly at the hands of Speed Fry. Though small compared to later battles, Mill Springs would become the first major Union victory since First Bull Run, help to stop the Confederate defensive line in the West, and gain nationwide recognition for George H. Thomas and Speed Fry. Continue reading “To Be Or Not To Be: A Kentucky Battlefield’s Drive to Become a National Park”

“We see this as part of our duty to continue the work of our veterans”: The Kentucky State Monument at Vicksburg

by Michele Seabrook, ’14 Further complicating an already contentious struggle over the collective national memory of the Civil War and its aftermath were the legacies of the war in border states like Missouri and Kentucky. These were especially vo…

By Michele Seabrook ’14

Further complicating an already contentious struggle over the collective national memory of the Civil War and its aftermath were the legacies of the war in border states like Missouri and  Kentucky. These were especially volatile states, each experiencing fierce internal conflicts, as citizens struggled to pick a side. Kentucky experienced a great deal of inner turmoil, eventually joining the Union cause, although faced with the specter of a Confederate shadow government that quickly formed within the state and pledged loyalty to the Confederacy. Although this shadow administration had little effect on the governing of Kentucky, it did represent a great deal of people who cast their fate with the Confederate cause. The central star on the ubiquitous Confederate Battle Flag is representative of Kentucky, signifying not only the state’s tumultuous position during the war, but also the difficulties that arise in attempting to define Kentucky’s continued Civil War legacy.

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Continue reading ““We see this as part of our duty to continue the work of our veterans”: The Kentucky State Monument at Vicksburg”