(Mill Springs, Ky.) At a news conference this morning, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-05) and officials of the Civil War Trust and Mill Springs Battlefield Association announced preservation of two historic properties associated with the Mill Springs Battlefield. The two properties, totaling 95 acres and known locally as the Landmark Ventures tract and Gladstone-Muse tracts, will be added to the 450 acres currently protected in the privately run Mill Springs battlefield park.
"Standing on this picturesque battlefield, with the white headstones of the National Cemetery just beyond us, one cannot help but think of the young men in blue and gray who fought here," remarked Rep. Rogers. "By preserving this battlefield, we ensure that their sacrifices will never be forgotten, and their brave deeds will inspire Americans for generations to come."
Joining Rogers at the news conference were Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer, Trust chairman emeritus John L. Nau, III, and Mill Springs Battlefield Association (MSBA) president Bill Neikirk. All three men thanked Rogers for his commitment to the battlefield, and noted that preservation efforts at Mill Springs are the result of strong partnerships between federal, state, and local officials, and nonprofit groups like the Trust and MSBA.
Protection of the Landmark Ventures and Gladstone-Muse tracts was the result of a $832,000 national fundraising campaign initiated by the Civil War Trust in 2012. The two tracts were the scene of intense fighting during the January 1862 battle, including the first documented bayonet charge of the Civil War, launched by the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry regiment.
The fundraising campaign to preserve these two properties raised more than $440,000 dollars from private-sector donations, which were matched by grant funding from the federal Civil War Battlefield Preservation 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 19,000 acres of battlefield land in 16 states. In his role as chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Rogers has been a strong supporter of the battlefield matching grants program.
"We could not have preserved these properties without the leadership of Chairman Rogers on the House Appropriations Committee," noted Trust chairman emeritus John L. Nau, III. "Today's announcement is but one example of how his support for historic preservation in Congress translates into land conservation victories in Kentucky and throughout the United States."
Lighthizer was also quick to praise Rep. Rogers, stating that the Congressman understands the need to preserve battlefield sites like Mill Springs as lasting monuments to those who served in America's armed forces, both during the Civil War as well as in other conflicts. According to Lighthizer, "these battlefields are shrines to the service and sacrifices of all our men and women in uniform."
In addition to announcing the preservation of the Landmark Ventures and Gladstone-Muse tracts, the Civil War Trust also revealed a new opportunity to preserve a further 102 acres at Mill Springs” a property that includes the site of Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer's winter encampment headquarters. The Civil War Trust currently has this historic property under contract, and intends to raise the $724,000 necessary to permanently preserve it through donations leveraged against a matching grant from the same Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program utilized to protect the Landmark Ventures and Gladstone Muse tracts.
"We gather here today not just to announce important preservation victories, but also to renew our commitment to protecting additional land at Mill Springs Battlefield," Lighthizer said. "With the support of our dedicated members and the steadfast determination of our partners, I am confident that our latest campaign will meet with similar success and build upon the outstanding legacy already in place here."
The modern era of preservation at Mill Springs began in 1992, with the formation of the MSBA. Since then, nearly 550 acres of battlefield land have been permanently protected, largely through cooperative efforts between government officials, MSBA and the Civil War Trust. Today, visitors can explore miles of interpreted walking trails; enjoy two restored historic homes; and browse an impressive 10,000-square-foot museum and visitor center.
"The remarkable journey here at Mill Springs has been possible thanks to the ongoing support our organization has received both locally and from the broader preservation community," said MSBA president Bill Neikirk. " Rep. Rogers has been a constant advocate for our region's irreplaceable heritage. His support and the recognition of a national preservation group like the Civil War Trust have helped us become a true heritage tourism destination."
The decisive Union victory at Mill Springs, fought on January 19â€“20, 1862, came as a welcome relief to the Northern home front and a heavy blow to Confederate plans for conquering Kentucky. The Federals lost 53 men killed and another 207 wounded; the Confederates lost 148 men killed, 308 wounded, and 95 missing â€” including its commander, Gen. Zollicoffer. The Confederate line pierced, its morale shaken, the whole Rebel force withdrew into Tennessee by the end of January. The Federals continued pressuring their opponents, capturing Nashville by way of the Cumberland River, and by March, the Confederate army had fallen back all the way to Corinth, Miss.
The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nationâ€™s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, it has preserved more than 36,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, including more than 2,100 acres in Kentucky. Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.