A Haven for the Wounded
A small building that housed a blacksmith shop stood in this area at the time of the Battle of Mill Springs. According to local tradition, the blacksmith who worked there mined shale, low grade coal, from the ground near his shop. There are several small depressions in this area that may be the remains of the blacksmith's excavations.
The blacksmith shop was located near the right flank of the final Confederate defensive position on this part of the Mill Springs battlefield. Like many other structures in the area, it provided shelter for wounded soldiers after the battle. The shop — normally a place of peacetime industry — would have presented a horrible scene of wartime suffering.
"We will be friends in heaven"
A Union Army Chaplain who was here the evening after the battle later published this account in The Western Christian Advocate.
About ten o'clock I lay down in a tent and tried to sleep, but the shrieks and the groanings of the wounded and dying reached my ears, and pierced my heart, and I could not sleep. In a short time Dr. Linnett and a Mr. Olds, from Lancaster, Ohio, came in to sleep in the tent I was occupying. One of them remembered that there was a wounded soldier in an old blacksmith shop, who was desirous of seeing a chaplain. I arose from my couch, and after wending my way through the mud and wet, I found the shop and to my utter surprise, I found the shop filled with the wounded, and one was lying upon the forge. Some were mortally wounded, and a few were not. After conversing and praying with one of them ... I asked him what regiment he belonged to. Said he, "I am your enemy, but we will be friends in heaven," He then requested me to write to his grandfather in Paris, Tennessee, who is a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, and inform him of his condition, and his being prepared to die in full triumph of faith. I conversed with several others, and tried to point them to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, There are times when the soldiers care little about being conversed with upon the subject of religion, but when in the condition of these men they would prefer seeing a faithful minister of the Gospel than any of their wicked commanders or associates.
are captioned: The wounded and dying sought shelter wherever they could. Many found their way to an old blacksmith shop on the edge of the ravine.
No contemporary image of the blacksmith shop on the Mill Springs battlefield survives. Accounts all indicate the building was log and it probably looked very much like the structures shown above in the Harper's Illustrated
print and the structure to the right, a reconstructed blacksmith shop in Virginia.
A battle map indicates the location of the marker.