(Mill Springs, Ky.) - During ceremonies this morning on the Mill Springs Battlefield, U.S. Representative Harold. "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) joined the Civil War Trust and Mill Springs Battlefield Association to announce the preservation of two properties associated with the historic battleground. Protection of these two parcels, totaling 118 acres, will greatly expand the existing battlefield park and enable visitors to better understand the January 1862 battle.
"By preserving these hallowed grounds, we honor the memory of the young men in blue and gray who struggled here more than 150 years ago," said Rep. Rogers. "I am privileged to be a part of this effort to set aside this picturesque and historic landscape in perpetuity."
Joining Rep. Rogers at the event were Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer, Trust chairman emeritus John L. Nau, III, and Mill Springs Battlefield Association (MSBA) president Dr. Bruce Burkett. Providing musical accompaniment for today's festivities was the acclaimed Georgia-based Eighth Regiment Band, which performed the "Star Spangled Banner" and Civil War-era tunes on authentic 19th-century instruments.
Protection of the two battlefield properties, known locally as the O'Laughlin-Plucknett and McGlothlin tracts, was the result of national fundraising campaigns undertaken by the Civil War Trust in 2014 and earlier this year. The two tracts, located on the historic Mill Springs Road but on different parts of the sprawling battleground, played important roles in both days of fighting at Mill Springs. The O'Laughlin-Plucknett Tract also includes the remains of entrenchments and hut sites constructed by the Confederate Army during its encampment prior to the battle.
Acquisition of the two properties was funded through private donations, matched with federal grants from the American Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants Program. This program, funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and administered by the National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program, has been used to preserve more than 24,000 acres of battlefield land in 17 states. In his role as chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Rogers has been a national champion for the American Battlefield Grants Program.
"We could not have preserved these properties without the leadership of Chairman Rogers on the House Appropriations Committee," noted Nau. "His support of the American Battlefield Grants Program has been instrumental to the preservation of hundreds of acres here at Mill Springs, and thousands more at historic sites throughout the country."
Lighthizer echoed Nau's comments, emphasizing that Rep. Rogers understands the need to preserve battlefield sites like Mill Springs as lasting monuments to those who served in the armed forces "” both during the Civil War as well as in other conflicts. According to Lighthizer, "It is fitting that we announce these preservation achievements on Memorial Day weekend, in the shadow of a national cemetery where so many brave Americans rest in eternal peace."
In his remarks, Dr. Burkett stated that the unique working relationship between the Mill Springs Battlefield Association, Rep. Rogers, and the Civil War Trust has transformed the battlefield into a significant heritage tourism destination. "The protection of these 118 acres adds critically important battlefield land to the existing holdings on the Mill Springs Battlefield. We are looking forward to taking ownership of these properties and making them accessible to the public.
Preservation of the 102.6-acre O'Laughlin-Plucknett Tract and the 15.4 acre McGlothlin Tract are not the only recent preservation achievements at Mill Springs. In December, legislation authored by Rep. Rogers was signed into law directing the National Park Service (NPS) to study the potential for adding the Mill Springs Battlefield to the national park system. The bill gives NPS three years to conduct its study and report back to the Congress.
According to Rep. Rogers, "This pristine battlefield, carefully protected by generations of Kentuckians steeped in its history, will be an excellent addition to the National Park Service." Currently, the Mill Springs Battlefield is managed as a private park by the nonprofit Mill Springs Battlefield Association.
The decisive Union victory at Mill Springs, fought on January 19-20, 1862, was a heavy blow to Confederate plans for conquering the divided border state of Kentucky. The Federals lost 53 men killed and another 207 wounded; the Confederates lost 148 men killed, 308 wounded, and 95 missing "” including its army commander, Gen. Zollicoffer. With the Confederate line pierced and its morale shaken, the Southern army withdrew into Tennessee following the battle.
The Civil War Trust is America's premier nonprofit battlefield preservation organization. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, through its Campaign 1776 initiative, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. To date, the Trust has preserved 41,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, including nearly 600 acres at Mill Springs. Learn more at www.civilwar.org.
The Civil War Preservation Trust became the Civil War Trust in January 2011; the Civil War Trust became a division of the American Battlefield Trust in May 2018. Campaign 1776 was created in 2014 as an initiative of the Civil War Trust; in May 2018 it became the Revolutionary War Trust, a division of the American Battlefield Trust.