Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Zagonyi's Charge






As someone with an interest in the Civil War in the Ozarks, I had a passing acquaintance with Zagonyi's charge even before I started researching and writing my Civil War Springfield book. However, I knew very few details, and my shallow knowledge about the event contained some misconceptions. I knew that the charge drove the Southerners out of Springfield in the fall of 1861 in advance of Fremont's occupation of the town, but that's about all I knew. I imagined the Federals charging through the streets of Springfield, driving the Rebel soldiers from the public square and chasing them out of town. Such an action did more or less occur but only after the initial action and main charge had already happened on the western outskirts of town at approximately the 1700 or 1800 block of present-day West Mt. Vernon Street (where the monument shown above is located). Only after the Confederate-allied Missouri State Guard troops had been routed in a field west of town did the Federals chase them through the streets as the Rebels scattered in several directions. I also was not previously aware of how far Zagonyi and his Body Guard had to march merely to reach Springfield. I had previously assumed that Fremont and the main body of Federal troops were outside town only a few miles away when Zagonyi undertook his celebrated mission, but, in fact, the march started from Hickory County just a few miles south of Quincy and approximately 50 miles north of Springfield. It was, to say the least, a daring and problematic undertaking, but it turned out all right for Zagonyi and proved the mettle of his Body Guard, helping to dispel the unit's dubious reputation as mere parade soldiers. However, when Fremont was relieved of duty shortly afterwards, the soldiers of the Body Guard were also discharged because of their zealous loyalty to the general.

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