U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation today to direct the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to evaluate the feasibility of including the Mills Springs Battlefield, located in southeastern Kentucky, in the National Park System.
Legislation is required to designate the site as a National Park. However, a completed and favorable feasibility study, which is what Senator McConnell’s legislation calls for, makes a final National Park designation easier to achieve. Such a designation for the battlefield would help preserve the battlefield, as well as complement the region’s strong tourist attractions, including Lake Cumberland. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (Ky-5th) introduced and the U.S. House of Representatives passed identical legislation earlier this year.
“The Mill Springs Battlefield Association has worked hard to preserve hundreds of acres of battlefield property and to educate the public about the history of the American Civil War and the Battle of Mill Springs,” Senator McConnell said. “This bill would put the people of Kentucky one step closer to protecting and preserving this historic battlefield, which is important to the history of the Commonwealth and our nation, and I want to thank Chairman Rogers for his leadership on this issue.”
“The preservation of Mill Springs Battlefield has been a joint progressive effort to honor the young men in blue and gray who fought in the first significant victory of the Civil War for the Union Army in the west,” Chairman Rogers said. “It’s a piece of Kentucky history that should be highlighted at the national level. I applaud Senator McConnell’s legislation that moves forward the work to incorporate Mill Springs into the National Parks Service, so we can further preserve the land and educate others about this significant American battlefield.”
“We love Senator McConnell and Congressman Rogers for what they do for tourism in our state. Senator McConnell—the Republican Leader of the Senate— introducing this legislation gives us hope that Mill Springs is one step closer to becoming a national attraction,” said Carolyn W. Mounce, Executive Director, Somerset-Pulaski County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“After years of work preserving this site, the Mill Springs Battlefield Association called on Senator McConnell and Congressman Rogers for help in working towards including our Mill Springs Battlefield in the National Park Service System. On behalf of the Association, I’d like to thank Senator McConnell and Congressman Rogers for their tireless efforts to promote and preserve Mill Springs, as well as other historic sites and treasures, throughout the Commonwealth,” said Jack Keeney, Executive Director, Mill Springs Battlefield Association.
In the 112th Congress, Senators McConnell and Rand Paul introduced a resolution that was enacted commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mill Springs and recognizing the significance of the Civil War combat that took place there.
When introducing the resolution, Senator McConnell talked about the importance of the Battle of Mill Springs, “On January 19, 1863, the Battle of Mill Springs spilled across Pulaski and Wayne Counties in southeastern Kentucky. It was the second-largest battle to take place in the State, and involved over 10,000 soldiers. More importantly, it was the first significant Union victory to happen in what was then considered the western theater of the Civil War. The Union’s victory meant that the main Confederate defense line that had been anchored in eastern Kentucky was broken, freeing Union soldiers to move through Kentucky and into Tennessee. One hundred fifty years later, this battle is still a vital story in our Nation’s history.”