"Their fort was admirable situated on a high piece of ground three-quarters of a mile from the Cumberland River, surrounded with a breastwork and rifle pits, with embrasures for cannon and as strong a position as could be found." — Captain John H. Putnam, Company H. 3rd Ohio, describing the fortifications at Beech Grove.
In December 1861, after he moved his base of operations from Mill Springs to Beech Grove, General Felix Zollicoffer instructed his men to build a line of fortifications one mile north of the Cumberland, stretching from the river to White Oak Creek. You now stand in the westernmost of three redoubts positioned along that line. Logs mark the original edges of the redoubt, which was destroyed after the battle.
When finished in late December, the line was over one mile long and enclosed an area of 1,000 acres. The breastwork here was ten feet high. In front of the breastwork was a trench fifteen feet deep and 10 feet wide. All of the trees were felled to create clear lines of fire. Some were placed in front of the trench to hinder an enemy approach. Others were used for firewood and to build winter quarters for the 6,000 men encamped here. Interestingly, there are cabin sites in front of the redoubt. Constructed before the redoubt, their inhabitants had the extra chore of building new cabins behind the lines.
Several soldiers in Beech Grove expressed concern about their position, "If (the enemy) should whip us," wrote one, "they will get most of our baggage as it will be impossible for us to get it back across the river and save ourselves." His fears proved to be well grounded. When Union soldiers entered Beech Grove after the battle they found one thousand horses and mules, many saddled or in harness, running loose, a battery wagon, forge, small arms, large quantities of ammunition, and ten pieces of artillery, ammunition in their caissons and horses standing in the traces.