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- The Army of the Cumberland - 2/43 -


fortifying this encampment with extensive earthworks.

During the month of September, General George H. Thomas, who with General Wm. T. Sherman had been ordered to report to General Anderson for duty in Kentucky--at General Anderson's personal request of the President--was placed in command of Camp Dick Robinson, relieving General Nelson. The latter then established Camp Kenton in Mason County, three miles from Maysville, near the spot where Simon Kenton's station was erected in 1785.

On the 7th of October General Anderson, on account of ill-health, relinquished the command of the department, and General W. T. Sherman on the following day succeeded him. At the same time General A. McD. McCook was placed in command of the force that [had] been ordered to the front under Sherman.

During the month of October the rebel Colonel J. S. Williams was organizing a force of some two thousand troops at Prestonburg, on the Big Sandy River, intending to operate in Central Kentucky through McCormick's Gap. General Nelson early in the month started with all the troops of his command to drive the rebels out of their encampment. Nelson ordered the Second Ohio under Colonel L. A. Harris to move from Paris, and the Twenty-first Ohio under Colonel Norton to advance from Nicholasville to Olympia Springs, where the entire command was concentrated. From here he advanced to McCormick's Gap, and then divided his command, sending the Second Ohio, a section of Captain Konkle's battery, and a company of Ohio cavalry under Captain McLaughlin--all under the command of Colonel Harris--through West Liberty to unite with the command at Salyersville. Nelson then moved forward with three regiments of infantry, two detachments of Kentucky troops, and two sections of Konkle's battery, with a battalion of cavalry, on the road to Hazel Green. On the 23d Harris occupied West Liberty, after a brisk skirmish. The command united at Salyersville and followed the enemy to Prestonburg. At this point Nelson sent the Thirty-third Ohio, with the Kentucky troops and a section of Konkle's battery under Colonel Sill, by a detour to the right to flank the rebel position at Ivy Mountain. Nelson on the next day then advanced with his command on the direct road to Piketon, and encountered the enemy in ambush on the mountain at Ivy Creek. Pushing forward at once with the force under his immediate command, Nelson attacked the enemy, and after a brisk engagement, lasting over an hour, routed them from their cover and drove them in full retreat.

Sill occupied Piketon on the 9th without much opposition. General Nelson arrived there on the 10th, when the rebels leaving the State and retreating through Pound Gap, he was ordered to report with his command to General Buell at Louisville.

On the retirement of General Anderson, as the ranking officer in the department, General Sherman assumed the command. On the 9th of November, by general order from the headquarters of the army, No. 97, the Department of the Ohio was created, "to consist of the States of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, that portion of Kentucky east of the Cumberland river, and the State of Tennessee, and to be commanded by Brigadier-General D. C. Buell, headquarters at Louisville;" and General Sherman was relieved from command at his own request.

Nelson's command being ordered out of East Kentucky, the rebel forces again entered, and in small bands were depredating on Union people in the Big Sandy Valley. The Fourteenth Kentucky under Colonel L. P. Moore was ordered to move from Catlettsburg and advance up the valley. General Buell finding that the rebel force had been largely re-enforced by the advance of General Humphrey Marshall, one of the ablest rebel generals in that part of the country, ordered the Twenty-second Kentucky under Colonel Lindsay from Maysville to join the Fourteenth, and Lindsay was placed in command of the two regiments. Marshall was a graduate of West Point; he had served in the Black Hawk War and had seen service in Mexico as a Colonel of Kentucky cavalry, winning distinction at Buena Vista. He had now entered the State from Virginia through Pound Gap, and had reached a strong natural position near Paintville, where he was rapidly increasing his army, with the intention of raising a sufficient force--already some five thousand--to operate on General Buell's flank and to retard his advance into Tennessee. The Forty-second Ohio, just organized, was in a camp of instruction near Columbus, Ohio, under its Colonel, James A. Garfield. While there, in December, he was ordered by General Buell to move his regiment at once to Catlettsburg, at the mouth of the Big Sandy River, and to report in person to Louisville for orders.

Starting his regiment eastward, from Cincinnati, Garfield, on the 19th of December, reported to General Buell, who informed him that he had been selected to command an expedition to drive Marshall and his forces from Kentucky. That evening Garfield received his orders, which organized the Eighteenth Brigade of the Army of the Ohio, and placed him in command. General Buell with these orders sent a letter of instruction, giving general directions as to the campaign, leaving all matters of detail and the fate of the expedition, however, largely to the discretion of the brigade commander. The latter reached his command on the 24th of December, at Louisa, some twenty-eight miles up the Big Sandy. He then proceeded to concentrate his troops, the main body consisting of his own regiment--the Forty-second Ohio--the Fourteenth Kentucky, and a battalion of Ohio cavalry under Major McLaughlin, which was with him; but these gave only some fifteen hundred men for duty.

The next largest portion of his command was stationed at Paris, Kentucky, under Colonel Cranor, with his regiment, the Fortieth Ohio, 800 strong. Cranor was ordered to join the main body as expeditiously as possible, and to bring with him that portion of Colonel Wolford's Kentucky cavalry stationed at Stanford, consisting of three small battalions under Lieutenant-Colonel Letcher, and to report at Prestonburg. The twenty-second Kentucky was ordered from Maysville, and some three hundred men of that command reported before Garfield reached Paintville. He was also joined by a battalion of west Virginia cavalry under Colonel Bolles. After a toilsome march in mid-winter, Garfield's command, on the 7th of January, drove Marshall's forces from the mouth of Jenny's Creek, and occupied Paintville. On the morning of the 9th, Cranor reported with his command, footsore and exhausted, after a march of over one hundred miles through the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. At noon of the 9th Garfield advanced his command to attack Marshall with his cavalry, pressing the rebels as they fell back. Reaching Prestonburg some fifteen miles from Paintville, he learned that Marshall was encamped and fortified on Abbott's Creek. Pushing on to the mouth of the creek, some three miles below Prestonburg, he there encamped for the night, a sleety rain adding to the discomfort of the men. Intending to force the enemy to battle, he ordered up his reserves under Colonel Sheldon from Paintville, with every available man. As soon as the morning light enabled the command to move, Garfield advanced, and soon engaged the rebel cavalry, which was driven in after a slight skirmish, falling back on the main body some two miles in the rear, strongly posted on high ground, between Abbott's Creek and Middle Creek, at the mouth of the latter stream. It was impossible to tell what disposition Marshall had made for his defence, owing to the formation of the ground at this point concealing his troops until our forces drew his fire. Throwing several detachments forward, the entire command was soon actively engaged. The engagement lasted for some four hours, commending at about twelve o'clock. At 4 P.M., the reserves under Sheldon reached the field of battle, and the enemy was driven from his position. Night coming on prevented pursuit.

Marshall's command fled down the valley, set fire to their stores, and pressed forward in rapid retreat to Abington, Va. Garfield with his command returned to Paintville, where it could receive supplies. In February he received orders from Buell, directing him to advance to Piketon, and drive the rebels from that place, which he did, and later from Pound Gap. This freed Eastern Kentucky of rebel troops, and relieved the Union men of that section of the depredations that had been committed on them by the roving bands of the enemy. The services of Garfield's command were recognized by Buell, and the thanks of the Commanding General extended to Garfield and his troops. Shortly after this Garfield received his commission as Brigadier-General of Volunteers, to date from the "Battle of Middle Creek."

In the latter part of March General Garfield was ordered to leave a small force in the Big Sandy Valley, and to report with the rest of his brigade to General Buell at Louisville.

Chapter II.

Mill Springs.

On September 10, 1861, General Albert Sidney Johnston, who had resigned the Colonelcy of the Second United States Cavalry to engage in the service of the Confederacy, was assigned to the command of the Department of the West, embracing, with a large number of the Western States, the States of Kentucky and Tennessee. On the 18th Johnston directed Buckner to occupy Bowling Green, and ordered Zollicoffer to advance from Knoxville to Cumberland Gap. The rebels, under General Polk, occupied Columbus, Ky., September 7th, and the line of operations of the Confederates, under General Johnston, as then formed, had the Mississippi river at its extreme left, Cumberland Gap at its extreme right, with Bowling Green as the centre. With the force at his command, no point in advance of Bowling Green could have been safely taken by the Confederate general, owing to the disposition of the Union troops in Kentucky at that time.

As we have seen, Zollicoffer with his command was driven from Rock Castle Hills and Wildcat, and taking a new position nearer Bowling Green, encamped at Beech Grove, where he fortified his position.

General Zollicoffer was a civilian appointment, without military training of any kind. He had been editor of a Nashville paper, had held a number of minor State offices, and served two terms in Congress prior to the war. Johnston, in ordering Zollicoffer to the Cumberland River at Mill Springs, intended that he should occupy a position of observation merely until he should be re-enforced, or his troops be incorporated in the main command. He could not have been located farther west without inviting the advance of the Federal forces into East Tennessee or to Nashville, flanking Bowling Green. Zollicoffer had no ability as a soldier to handle troops, and General George B. Crittenden, of Kentucky, a graduate of West Point, who had seen service in the Mexican War, and who held at the outbreak of the rebellion, a commission as Lieutenant-Colonel in the regiment of Mounted Riflemen, was, in November, assigned to the command of the district as Major-General, with headquarters at Knoxville. Great expectations were entertained in regard to Crittenden's military abilities; and about the first of the year


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