Near Nancy in Wayne County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
Beech Grove Confederate Camp
— Battle of Mill Springs —
Inset photo on left of Gen. Felix K. Zollicoffer
In November 1861 Gen. Felix Zollicoffer sent engineer officers Capt. Thomas Estill and Capt. Victor Von Sheliha up and down the Cumberland River to find the most practical location for a base camp. Given the natural terrain, abundant food and forage, the presence of a grist mill, saw mill, and a ferry, Mill Springs seemed the logical choice. To construct earthworks for the Confederate base, the engineers requisitioned 500 axes, 300 shovels, 200 picks and other entrenching tools from Nashville. Less than a month later, with the fortification on both the north and south sides of the river nearing completion, Gen. Zollicoffer decided to shift the bulk of his forces to the north side of the river.
In December Zollicoffer's troops began moving to Beech Grove, on the north bank of the Cumberland River. This proved to be a poor tactical move, for the Confederate line of retreat was blocked by the river. Yet Zollicoffer remained optimistic writing, "The river protects our rear and flanks.
Image of soldiers with picks and shovels constructing fortifications.
Text continues on right side
The Formidible Works Were Skillfully Designed
An inset photo is captioned:" ... the [Confederate] camp was well protected from infantry attack by breastworks, abatis, and entanglements." - Col. Judson W. Bishop, 2nd Minnesota
Contrary to charges made by Confederate Gen. George B. Crittenden following the battle, the earthworks at Beech Grove were quite formidable. Zollicoffer's engineers were capable and Capt. Sheliha, who would later become Chief Engineer of the Department of the Gulf, ensured that the earthworks were well constructed and well placed. The fortifications ran across the peninsula at Beech Grove, following a ridge. They consisted of a broken line of breastworks with redans anchoring the east and west ends of the line and another redan in the center. Behind this line was another redan located on the road for protection of the route to the ferry landing. A fourth gun emplacement was located southwest of the main line, above White Oak Creek, where a final line of fortifications protected
The area of the earthworks and the enclosed Confederate encampment were soon dubbed "Zollie's Den" by a newspaper reporter from the New York Herald. The earthworks were never tested. After the Battle of Mill Springs, Confederate troops retreated back to the safety of their river fortifications. Their stay was short-lived. In a matter of hours, the Confederate troops crossed to the south side of the river where they continued their retreat to Tennessee. When the Union forces attacked the next morning, "Zollie's Den" was deserted. During their hurried retreat the Confederates left behind 14 cannon, 200 wagons, 2,000 horses and mules, and all their food supplies.
A map at center is titled: "Sketch of the ENEMY'S FORTIFIED POSITION at and opposite MILL SPRINGS, Ky to which he retreated after his defeat at LOGAN'S CROSS-ROADS by the U.S. Forces under Brig. Gen. GEORGE H. THOMAS, Jan 19, 1862. During the night the enemy abandoned his strong position and fled in disorder toward Monticello, Ky. Compiled pursuant to orders from Maj. Gen. G.H. THOMAS, U.S.A. by EDWARD RUGER, Supt. Top. Engr's office, Headquarters, Dept of the Cumberland; Drawn by A. Kilp, Top. Draughtsman."
Caption below the map:"The river at this point makes a large bend to the south and our forces have fortified entirely across on the north side so that five or six regiments can defend the entire line on that side." -- George P. Shaw, 29th Tennessee
Erected by Mill Springs Battlefield Association.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil.
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. It was located near 36° 57.149′ N, 84° 47.047′ W. Marker was near Nancy, Kentucky, in Wayne County. Marker was on Mill Springs Battlefield Road 3 miles from Kentucky Highway 235, on the right when traveling south. The marker is located at a parking pulloff beside a fence and a clearing. This is Tour Stop #7 of the Mill Springs Battlefield Driving Tour. Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Nancy KY 42544, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this location, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Zollie's Den (a few steps from this marker); Beech Grove / Noble Ellis (within shouting distance of this marker); Winter Quarters (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fortifications at Beech Grove (about 700 feet away); Respite at Moulden's Hill (approx. 0.7 miles away); The Noble Ellis Saves an Army (approx. ¾ mile away); The Cumberland River (approx. 1.4 miles away); The Battle of Mill Springs (approx. 1.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Nancy.
More about this marker. This marker was replaced by a new one also named Zollie's Den (see nearby markers).
Regarding Zollie's Den. This stop includes a trail beside the remains of earthworks and artillery positions established by the Confederates during their occupation of this area. Archeological investigations have and are occurring on both sides of the road to recover artifacts from the Confederate camp.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2019. It was originally submitted on May 29, 2012, by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This page has been viewed 461 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on May 29, 2012, by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.