About 7 A.M. Confederate General Felix Zollicoffer rode forward to reconnoiter. Near this spot, in the dim light and fog, he saw a mounted officer, Union Colonel Speed Fry of the 4th Kentucky U.S. Volunteers. Both men mistakenly assumed the other to be one of their fellow officers.
Colonel Fry later described the event: "... So thoroughly was I convinced that he was one of our men I did not hesitate to ride up to his side so closely that our knees touched. ... He said to me 'We must not shoot our own men,' to which I responded, 'Of course not; I would not do so intentionally' ... and pointing ... he said 'Those are our men.'"
As Fry moved away, Confederate Major H.M.F. Fogg rode out and shouted, "General, they are the enemy," and fired at Fry. Unhurt, Fry turned and fired his pistol and several nearby soldiers of the 4th Kentucky also fired. Zollicoffer and his aide died in this exchange. No one knows who fired the fatal shot that killed Zollicoffer.
His body was later placed under the large oak tree to your left. Known today as the "Zollie Tree," it is decorated each year in his honor.