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[591] get his army across the Osage-certainly not to Springfield; and that southern Missouri was virtually given over to Rebel possession.

These gloomy apprehensions were destined to be signally dispelled. Gen. Fremont moved southward immediately thereafter, reaching Warsaw on the 17th. Thither Sigel had preceded him. Five days thereafter, the bridging of the Osage had been completed, and the army, as it crossed, pressed rapidly forward.

Meantime, on the 21st, a spirited fight had occurred at Fredericktown, in the south-east, which section had hitherto been overrun almost at will by Rebel bands directed by Jeff. Thompson, one of Jackson's brigadiers, termed the “Swamp Fox” by his admirers. Capt. Hawkins, of the Missouri (Union) cavalry, having been ordered thither on a reconnoissance from Pilot Knob, on the north-east, engaged and occupied Thompson while Gen. Grant, commanding at Cape Girardeau, on the Mississippi, sent a superior force, under Col. Plummer, to strike him from the east. Meantime, Col. Carlile, with a, considerable body of infantry, moved up from Pilot Knob to support Hawkins. When all these advanced, the disparity in numbers was so great as to preclude a serious contest; so that Thompson, though strongly posted, was overpowered, and, after two hours fighting, constrained to fly, leaving 60 dead behind him, including Col. Lowe, his second in command. Thompson was hotly pursued for twenty miles, and his banditti thoroughly demoralized and broken up.

The advance of Gen. Fremont's army was preceded by a squadron of “Prairie scouts,” led by Maj. Frank J. White, who had recently distinguished himself by a forced march of sixty miles on Lexington, which he captured without loss on the morning of the 16th, taking 60 or 70 prisoners, considerable property, and releasing a number of Unionists captured with Mulligan, including two colonels. Lexington and its vicinity being strongly Rebel, Maj. White abandoned it on the 17th, and moved southerly by Warrensburg and Warsaw to the front, which they struck at Pomme de Terre river, fifty-one miles north of Springfield. Still pushing ahead, Maj. White was joined, on the 24th, by Maj. Zagonyi, of the “Fremont body-guard,” who assumed command, and, marching all night, resolved to surprise and capture Springfield next day. Maj. White, being very ill, was left at a farm-house to recover; but in a few hours started in a wagon, with a guard of six men, to overtake his command, and soon found himself in a Rebel camp a prisoner, and in imminent danger of assassination. He had moved on the direct road to Springfield, while Zagonyi had made a detour of twelve miles to the right, hoping thus to surprise the enemy in Springfield, who, he was advised, were fully 2,000 strong.

The two commands combined numbered hardly 300 sabers, when, on reaching the outskirts of Springfield, they found 1,200 infantry and 400 cavalry well posted on the crown of a hill, prepared for and awaiting them. Zagonyi did not quail. To his officers he said: “Follow me, and do like me!” to his soldiers--

Comrades, the hour of danger has come: your first battle is before you. The enemy

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