Mill Springs Battleground

Mill Springs Battlefield – Nancy, Kentucky

Whenever we can, we like to visit Revolutionary and Civil War sites along the routes of our travels. This one in particular drew our interest as Tom’s great great grandpa Ludwig Bosch fought here as a member of the 9th Ohio Voluteer Infantry Union Army. The 9th Ohio was an all German speaking regiment formed in Cincinnati early in the Civil war. They distinguished themselves a fierce fighters having earned the nicknames of the Bloody Dutch Devils, the Iron Brigade, Die Neuner, and McCook’s Dutchmen.

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The battle at Mill Springs took place on January 19 and 20, 1862. The 9th Ohio distinguished itself by conducting a bayonet charge on the Confederates. They scattered their ranks and sent them in retreat, back to their winter camp and then across the Cumberland and eventually back to Tennessee.

The Union victory here secured the privitol state of Kentucky for the Federals as the Confederates retreated across the Cumberland River by the cover of night. The Union definitely missed their chance to capture the 4000 troops before they made off across the river.

The Confederates had their sights on Louisville and Cincinnati. The battle here drove them back south and helped secure these two cities.

There’s a modern visitors’ center with a film and museum as well as a library containing reference materials. Next to the center is Mill Springs National Cemetery and the first stop on a ten stop self-guided driving tour.

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Of special curiosity to us was stop 2 where most of the battle unfolded including the 9th Ohio’s bayonet charge. There’s a trail that takes you back through the fields and points of interest. There’s a plaque commemorating the bayonet charge of the 9th Ohio.

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Along the trail is the spot where Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer was shot and killed and a mass grave of confederate soldiers that fell here and markers commemorating them.

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Stop 7 shows the site of the fortified camp at Beech Grove where the Confederates stayed before the battle and left abandoned as they made their retreat leaving provisions for the Union to scavenge including 150 wagons, munitions and 1000 horses and mules.

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Stop 8 is where 4000 Confederates abandoned camp and escaped across the river on the ferry Noble Ellis on multiple trips during the night.

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Stop 9 is at Brown-Lanier historic house and the Grist Mill. The house predates the Civil War and served as headquarters for three generals involved in the battle.

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The Grist mill has been restored

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and operates on weekends in season.

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Because of all the recent rain the springs at Mill Springs were gushing with water.

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We are both enjoying finding these connections to the Civil War and finding out more about great, great grandpa Ludwig and his buddies in the 9th Ohio Infantry.

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General Burnside Island State Park

General Burnside Island State Park – 8801 South Highway 27 – Burnside, Kentucky

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The park sits on an island created when the Cumberland River was flooded in the 1950’s and the peninsula of land was flooded. Now, it is connected just by the road in.

It is named for side-burn whiskered Civil War General Ambrose Burnside who patrolled this area for confederate soldiers in 1863.

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General Ambrose Burnside

The park contains 94 campsites with electric and water hookups and a dump station and some tent sites. Some sites are max 30 amps, and some 50 amps. We could not determine a pattern. Also beware that some sites have shared utilities, as did our site #23 – whoever gets there first, gets the 50 amp plug. And the utilities were on the wrong side for us. During our stay we found the bath houses are kept clean. Roads and pads are paved and each has a latern pole, picnic table, sitting area and fire ring. Sites vary in size and levelness. The campground is hilly and the road in is narrow, but doable in a big rig. No WiFi, Verizon service strong. You can hear a train, but it never was so loud it woke us up.

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Since the campground is hilly, many sites sit in depressions. It was quite rainy while we were here and some sites were completely swamped. Like this one.

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Luckily, we were on top of the hill and although the ground was saturated, we didn’t have to worry about being flooded.

Also sharing the island is a 18 hole nice golf course and marina and boat ramp. It was too rainy during our stay to play golf, but it looked like a nice course. The pool is no longer used and is now just an eyesore.

The park is close to the town of Somerset with many restaurants and stores.

Also close by and accessible by land and boat is all Lake Cumberland has to offer.

Kings Mountain National Millitary Park

One of the things we enjoy as we travel, is seeking out little known points of interest. Although Kings Mountain is a National Military Park (like Gettysburg), we had never heard of it before this trip to the area.

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About a half hour drive from Gaffney where we were parked for service, up I-85 on the border of North and South Carolina lies Kings Mountain National Military Park. We learned that a decisive battle in the Revolutionary War took place here in 1780.

The visitors center presents an educational film on the battle and a museum and was a good place to start our exploration of the park. There’s a nicely paved, but steep trail with audio stations that winds back through the battleground.

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You could really get a sense of the terrain that faced the soldiers here in the Carolina Wilderness.

The History Lesson…

At the time of the battle, the northern fighting was stalemated. The British thought they could garner support of loyalists in the Carolinas so they sent Maj Patrick Ferguson to recruit and train sympathizers for the British cause. He did have success in recruiting over a thousand men to fight for the British. This force, they thought, could then turn north and join up with Cornwallis and his troops and put the rebellion to rest. What they didn’t count on was the tenacity of the patriots and the frontiersmen and their rifles.

Seems Ferguson riled up the country patriots when he sent a threat to – in his words the “backwater men” – to kill them all and burn their houses if they did not submit to the rule of the king. These men of Scots-Irish decent from Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina became known as the ‘over mountain men’ and gathered together to join patriot troops and defeated the Red Coats soundly on October 7, 1780 in about an hour.

Ferguson was killed in the battle and the British lost a great leader and gave up hope of southern domination.

Along the trail there are numerous markers and plaques that outline the battle and give the history of the park.

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Just by luck, the day we visited the park, they had the Howser Stone House open to the public. This only happens twice a year. The house is located on National Park Service property and is maintained by the park.

We love when these serendipitous events happen. So we set out to find it.

 

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The house was built by Henry Howser, a German stonemason and Revolutionary war veteran from Pennsylvania. Stone was quarried from about a mile away and the house was completed in 1803. Henry, his wife Jane and their four sons and four daughters as well as three slaves lived on this property.

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Lintel of the house inscribed with names and date

On the two days a year the house is open, the Brigade of Friends of Kings Mountain dress in period clothing and conduct tours.

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Roni was particularly interested in the house since her grandpa and great-grandpa were German Stonemasons (in Cincinnati).

Gaffney South Carolina

We are “camping” in the parking lot of the Freightliner Service Center in Gaffney, South Carolina. We have the motorhome in for routine maintenance and a couple pesky issues with a vibration and a squeaky steering column. Freightliner provides their clients with a parking area with electric service and a water fill up and dump station. They provide Wi-Fi and a waiting room with restrooms and TV while they work on your chassis.

Everyone here is in the same situation and the enjoyable part is meeting other rv’ers and discussing why they are here, where they came from, and where they are going.

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Gaffney is a small town and their claim to fame is the giant peach water tower – the Peachnoid. It’s also commonly known as the Peach butt.

It usually looks like this. We took this picture in June 2016 when we were here for service.

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They are going some maintenance on it now. Next time you think you have a bad job, remember this guy who has to power clean ‘the crack’.

 

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Before we came down, we learned that Tom’s cousin Bruce and his wife Lora live just 20 miles from the service center. We enjoyed visiting them and going out to dinner at Fatz. Tom and Bruce haven’t seen each other in about 25 years so there was a lot of catching up to be done.

 

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Tom and Bruce