Felix Kirk Zollicoffer - Facts

May 19, 1812 - January 19, 1862

Key facts about Tennessee-native Felix Zollicoffer, a newspaperman, congressman, and Confederate general who was killed at the Battle of Mill Springs during the American Civil War.

Portrait of Felix Zollicoffer

Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer was killed during the Battle of Mill Springs on January 19, 1862. [Wikimedia Commons]

Full Name:

  • Felix Kirk Zollicoffer

Birth Date:

  • May 19, 1812

Birth Location:

  • Near Bigbyville, Tennessee (just south of Columbia, in Maury County)


  • John Jacob and Martha (Kirk) Zollicoffer


  • Jackson College (one year)


  • Printer
  • Editor
  • Military officer
  • Politician

Career Summary:

  • U.S. Congressman
  • Brigadier General (CSA)


  • Louisa Pocahontas Gordon (1835)

Place of Death:

  • Mill Springs, Kentucky

Date of Death:

  • January 19, 1862

Place of Burial:

  • Nashville City Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee


  • Felix Zollicoffer was born on his family’s plantation near Bigbyville, Tennessee (just south of Columbia, in Maury County).
  • Felix Zollicoffer was the son of John Jacob and Martha (Kirk) Zollicoffer.
  • Felix Zollicoffer’s grandfather, George Zollicoffer, served as a captain during the American Revolution.
  • Felix Zollicoffer barely knew his mother, who died in June 1815 when he was just three years old.
  • During his youth, Zollicoffer worked on the family plantation, attended local schools, and studied for one year at nearby Jackson College.
  • At age sixteen, he left school to become an apprentice printer at a newspaper in Paris, Tennessee.
  • Felix Zollicoffer worked as a printer and editor for several newspapers.
  • Felix Zollicoffer married Louisa Pocahontas Gordon on September 24, 1835. The marriage produced six children who survived to adulthood.
  • In 1836, Felix Zollicoffer joined the Tennessee volunteers and served as a lieutenant in the Second Seminole War (December 23, 1835 – August 14, 1842) in Florida.
  • From 1849 until 1851, Felix Zollicoffer represented Davidson County in the Tennessee senate.
  • In 1852, Felix Zollicoffer served as a delegate to the Whig National Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, and supported General Winfield Scott’s nomination as a candidate for the U.S. presidency.
  • In 1852, voters of Tennessee’s eighth district elected Felix Zollicoffer to represent them in Congress. Zollicoffer was reelected two times, serving as a Whig in the 33rd Congress (1853 – 1855), and as a member of the American Party (also known as the Know-Nothing Party) in the 34th and 35th Congresses (1855 – 1859).
  • During his years in Congress, he championed the states’ rights cause.
  • When the Union began to disintegrate after Abraham Lincoln’s election, Zollicoffer represented Tennessee at the Washington Peace Conference, in a failed attempt to avoid civil war.
  • On May 9, 1861, Governor Isham Harris commissioned Felix Zollicoffer as a brigadier general in the Provisional Army of Tennessee.
  • Felix Zollicoffer was commissioned as brigadier general in the Confederate Army on June 8, 1861.
  • On July 9, 1861, Felix Zollicoffer’s command was sent to Knoxville to suppress anti-secessionist sympathizers in Eastern Tennessee.
  • On August 1, 1861, Felix Zollicoffer was assigned command of the District of East Tennessee, Department #2.
  • Felix Zollicoffer led his command into the neutral border state of Kentucky on September 17, 1861, in support of Confederate Major General Leonidas Polk’s invasion of Western Kentucky two weeks earlier.
  • On September 19, Felix Zollicoffer’s soldiers won the Battle of Barbourville — the first Confederate victory in Kentucky.
  • Felix Zollicoffer’s soldiers were defeated at the Battle of Wildcat Camp on October 21, 1861.
  • Felix Zollicoffer was killed during the Battle of Mill Springs on January 19, 1862.

Citation Information

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  • Article Title Felix Kirk Zollicoffer - Facts
  • Date May 19, 1812 - January 19, 1862
  • Author
  • Keywords Felix Kirk Zollicoffer
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date April 18, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 12, 2024