Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Zollicoffer, Felix Kirk

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ZOLLICOFFER, Felix Kirk, soldier, b. in Maury county, Tenn., 19 May, 1812: d. near Mill Springs, Ky., 19 Jan., 1862. George, his grandfather, was a captain in the Revolutionary army. The family came to this country from Switzerland, and is of ancestry that was ennobled by Rodolphus II. in 1528. Felix K. received a common-school education, learned the printer's trade, and for about a year published a weekly newspaper at Paris, Tenn. He subsequently worked as a printer in Knoxville, Tenn., and Huntsville, Ala. He began at this time to write for public journals, and one of his prose fancies may be found in Field's “Scrap-Book.” From Huntsville he removed to Columbia, Tenn., and took editorial charge of the “Observer.” He served as a soldier, and afterward as a commissioned officer, in the Seminole war, and, returning in 1837, resumed the “Observer” and edited it in the canvass of 1840 in the interest of the Whig candidate. He published and edited also a weekly agricultural paper. In 1841 he became associate editor of the Nashville “Banner,” the organ of the Whig party in Tennessee. He was elected comptroller of the state in 1844, and resigned in 1849. In August of the latter year he was elected a state senator. He was chosen to congress in April, 1853, and served continuously for three terms, attaining reputation as an able debater. He retired from public life in 1859, but was chosen as a delegate to the peace conference of 1861. At the beginning of the civil war he entered the Confederate service with the rank of brigadier-general, 9 July, 1861. When the National army was about to enter east Tennessee by way of Cumberland Gap, Gen. Zollicoffer, with 2,000 men, went by way of Knoxville to the point of threatened attack. Soon after he had established his camp near Mill Springs, on Cumberland river, Gen. George B. Crittenden arrived and assumed command. In the battle that ensued (see Thomas, George H.), Gen Zollicoffer, having ordered an advance, rode forward with several of his staff officers to inspect the enemy's position, and passed by mistake beyond their lines. He endeavored to retrace his route, and was soon in front of the 4th Kentucky regiment, commanded by Col. Speed S. Fry, with whom he exchanged salutes, and rode off undetected (as he wore an oil-cloth overcoat). But one of his staff fired a pistol toward the National line, which was at once answered by a volley that killed Gen. Zollicoffer and two other officers. Another account represents that Gen. Zollicoffer was shot by Col. Speed S. Fry.