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Wolford's 1st Kentucky Cavalry at Mill Springs

Report of Col. Frank Wolford, Kentucky Cavalry. Camp Brents, January 22, 1862.


Colonel Frank Wolford.

General: At daylight on Sunday morning, the 19th, my pickets, sent in obedience to your order in the direction of Mill Springs, came in contact with the advance of the enemy and fired on them. I immediately sent word to Colonel Manson, and proceeded with my command to the relief of my picket. In less than 2 miles of our camp we met the enemy and fired on their advance, which constantly retreated. In a very short pursuit I discovered that the enemy were in considerable numbers. I dispatched a messenger to you to inform you that the enemy were advancing in force, and fell back to where Colonel Manson’s regiment was formed, and dismounted my men, and formed them in the woods on an elevated place, commanding a field through which the enemy were advancing. Discovering that the enemy were coming in the direction of a hollow, from which under cover of a hill they could flank us, I advanced with a portion of my command to the head of the hollow, where we drove the enemy back four times, and compelled them to change their direction and come down the ridge beyond. At this time Colonel Manson, overwhelmed by superior force and almost surrounded commenced falling back to meet re-enforcements. I ordered my men to follow. When we reached our horses we found them surrounded by the enemy. I cut them loose and let them run down the road, when my men caught them and remounted, the enemy getting two or three of our horses.



The 1st Kentucky Cavalry and the 4th Kentucky Infantry eventually combined later in the battle. That may be why the 4th Kentucky is labeled here as cavalry.

Image from a patriotic envelope depicting the Battle of Mill Springs held by the Kentucky Historical Society.

Colonel Fry came up at this time and formed on the ground we had previously occupied. I dismounted my men and formed them again with Colonel Fry’s, where they were fighting when you came up. The remainder of the fight, so far as my men were concerned, you saw. My officers and men, with a few exceptions, fought most valiantly. Captain Burris, after the first part of the fight, being sick, left his men. He was not wounded, as I understood and verbally reported to you. After he left I placed his men under the command of Adjutant Drye and Lieutenant Coppage, who discharged their duty well. Captain Sweeney mistook my command, and formed about 30 of his men in the wrong place. The balance of his men, under Lieutenant Wolford, formed where they were commanded, and fought well. Captain Sweeney afterwards fell in and did well. Captain Alexander and his men fought well. Lieutenant Miller, in command of Captain Morrison’s company, fought well, and fell at their head.

Our loss was 3 killed, one of whom was Lieutenant Miller, and 19 wounded, 8 of whom will die; 15 missing, some of whom I have reason to believe have gone home wounded. We had 3 horses killed and about 20 lost.

Major Brents gave me great assistance during the fight. Two of the band picked up guns and fought; the balance fled.

Yours, &c.. FRANK WOLFORD.

There is history that needs to be remembered.  

Lost and forgotten.  Too many stories from our past have collected dust on bookshelves, or have been left behind with previous generations.  Join me as I piece together the tales about the 1862 Western Kentucky Summer Campaign in Laid Low in the Dust, and John Locke of the 14th Tennessee.

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Derrick Lindow              Owensboro, Kentucky            derricklindowauthor@gmail.com

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