The Confederate troops under Brigadier General Zollicoffer had been guarding Cumberland Gap in Bell County. A portion of these troops moved and set up fortifications at Mill Springs in Pulaski County near Somerset. The Confederates attacked Brigadier General Thomas' U.S. Division at Logan's Crossroads about dawn. After two assaults by the Confederates, counterattacks forced them to retreat — a retreat that took them to Tennessee without Brigadier General Zollicoffer, who was killed in the battle.
The unrelenting precipitation during January 1861 made troops movements extremely difficult and miserably disagreeable. The U.S. troops left Lebanon in Marion County on 30 December 1861 to march toward Mill Springs in Pulaski County — a distance of about forty miles. After slogging through roads of deep mud for two and a half weeks, they stopped at Logan's Crossroads in Pulaski County on 17 January. The mud slowed them to an average of two miles per day. In Boyle County, Professor Ormond Beatty at Centre College in Danville recorded rain on nine of the first seventeen days of January and the rain wasn't over yet. The Confederates moved from Mill Springs during the night through a thunderstorm that dropped 1.50 inches of rain. They attacked about dawn on Sunday 19 January. At 7 a.m. that morning, the temperature was 63°F with stratus clouds covering most of the sky. High winds of about 35 mph from the southwest continued to bring rain. By 2 p.m. the temperature had reached 68°F. It was reported that the torrential rains prevented many of the old flintlocks from firing. The weather system showed few signs of leaving. The atmospheric pressure remained steady at 28.84 inches. After the battle, the Confederates retreated southward toward Tennessee. The morning of the 20th of January found the temperature still at 64°F under a mostly cloudy sky. Another 0.55 inch of rain fell beginning at 9.a.m. bringing the total for the first twenty days of January to 5.96 inches. Six more days of rain would bring 2.46 inches more before this soggy January was over.