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 Felix Kirk Zollicoffer

Felix Kirk Zollicoffer

Birth
Bigbyville, Maury County, Tennessee, USA
Death 19 Jan 1862 (aged 49)
Nancy, Pulaski County, Kentucky, USA
Burial Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Memorial ID 8954 · View Source
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Civil War Confederate Brigadier General, US Congressman. Born in Bigbyville, Maury County, Tennessee, a descendant of immigrants from Switzerland who settled in North Carolina, after education in local schools he became a printer. After working for newspapers in Paris and Knoxville, Tennessee, and in Huntsville, Alabama, he was elected in 1835 to be Tennessee’s State Printer. During the 1836 to 1838 2nd Seminole War in Florida he served as an officer in the Tennessee Militia. A supporter of the Whig Party, after his return from military service he became editor and publisher of “The Republican Banner”, which was the official newspaper for the Whig Party in Tennessee in 1843. He entered politics, being elected and serving as the state’s Comptroller from 1845 to 1849, serving as Tennessee’s Adjutant General, and in the Tennessee State Legislature. After supporting General Winfield Scott for the 1852 Presidential Election and the disintegration of the Whig Party in the 1850s, he joined the American Party, and was elected to represent Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Serving three terms from 1853 to 1859, while staunchly supporting Southern issues during the sectional crisis of the 1850s, he was opposed to secession. He declined to run for a fourth term and supported John Bell in the 1860 Presidential Campaign. Once the Civil War started he offered his services to the Confederacy, and was commissioned as a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army on July 9, 1861. He was placed in command of the District of Eastern Tennessee, an area with a strong Unionist sentiment, and administered it with leniency. However, he could not stem the Unionist activities there, and after Unionists tried to burn a vital bridge in the district in November 1861, he was tasked to clear out Union Army forces there and in southern Kentucky. Having made successful forays against Union troops into Kentucky in September and October 1861, he was initially in charge of the planning for the operations, but in December 1861 was superseded as Department head by Major General George B. Crittenden. Placed in command of a brigade of ten regiments, General Zollicoffer nevertheless led his troops into Kentucky in January 1862. On January 19, 1862, at the Battle of Mill Springs, near what is today Nancy, Kentucky, his men attacked and surprised a Union Army force, and initially drove them back. However, the battle became confusing with smoke and fog, and General Zollicoffer, wearing a very noticeable white coat, rode over to Union lines where the 4th Kentucky (Union) Volunteer Infantry was positioned. Believing they were his own men, he ordered them to stop firing, but when the Union troops realized who he was, he was shot and killed, allegedly by Colonel Speed S. Fry, commander of the Kentuckians. The first Confederate general to die in combat in what is considered the Western Theatre of the war, General Zollicoffer’s death, along with timely Union re-enforcements, turned the tide of the battle, and the Confederates were driven from the field. His remains were recovered by the Union, who had it embalmed and forwarded it to Confederate lines. He was eventually interred in the Nashville City Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee. A cenotaph was erected for him in the Zollicoffer Park battlefield cemetery, and a monument was erected for him at the spot where he was killed.

Bio by: Russ Dodge



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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 19 Mar 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8954
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Felix Kirk Zollicoffer (19 May 1812–19 Jan 1862), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8954, citing Nashville City Cemetery, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .