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The Battle of Springfield/Zagonyi's Charge

October 25, 1861 in Springfield, Missouri

Union Forces Commanded by
Maj. James Zagonyi
Strength Killed Wounded Missing/Captured
±5,000 18 37 ?
Confederate Forces Commanded by
Col. James Frazier
Strength Killed Wounded Missing/Captured
1,500 est. 36 106 ?
Conclusion: Union Victory

Having accomplished little since taking command of the Western Department, which was headquartered in St. Louis, Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont formulated a plan to clear Maj. Gen. Sterling Price’s Confederates from the state and then, if possible, carry the war into Arkansas and Louisiana.

Leaving St. Louis on October 7, Frémont’s eventually gathered more than 20,000 troops. His mounted force numbered 5,000 men, including Maj. Frank J. White’s ‘Prairie Scouts’, ‘Frémont's Body Guards’ under Maj. Charles Zagonyi, and cavalry with less grandiose titles. White later fell ill and turned his command over to Zagonyi.

The 2 units operated in front of Frémont’s army to gather intelligence. As Frémont neared Springfield, the local state guard commander, Col. Julian Frazier, sent out requests to nearby localities for additional troops. Frémont camped on the Pomme de Terre River, about 50 miles from Springfield. Zagonyi’s column, though, continued on to Springfield. Frazier set an ambush along Zagonyi’s road, but when the jaws snapped the teeth weren’t very strong: the Union force charged the Confederates, sending them fleeing.

Zagonyi’s men continued into town, hailed Union sympathizers and released Union prisoners. Leery of a Confederate counterattack, Zagonyi pulled out of Springfield before night, but Frémont’s main body arrived a few days later and set up camp in the town.

In mid-November, after Frémont was sacked and replaced by Maj. Gen. Hunter, the Federals evacuated Springfield and withdrew to Sedalia and Rolla. Union troops reoccupied Springfield in early 1862 and it was a Union stronghold from then on. This engagement at Springfield was the only Union victory in southwestern Missouri in 1861, and the Confederates had general control of the area.
The First Battle of Springfield or Zagonyi's Charge was the only Union victory in southwestern Missouri.

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