From the time of the battle of Wilson's Creek
, General Fremont
had been collecting an army at St. Louis
for the purpose of retrieving that disaster to the Federal
arms, and capturing Price
or forcing him and his army to leave the State
The force with which he was now advancing on Springfield
was variously estimated at from 40,000 to 50,000 men, splendidly armed and equipped, and supplied with every appliance conducive to their comfort.
retreated to Cassville
and then to Pineville
, in the southwestern corner of the State
He was determined to offer Fremont
battle with his State Guard forces, notwithstanding the great disparity in the strength of the two armies, but he wanted to draw him as far into the Ozark mountains
as soon as Price
evacuated it, but his entrance into it was not unaccompanied by disaster.
He had two bodyguards.
One, his own, was composed of Indians
; the other, known as the Jesse Fremont
guards, was a picked corps commanded by Major Zagonyi
, a Hungarian officer, and was as magnificently armed and equipped as the bodyguard of an empress.
The advance in entering Springfield
was given to this crack company of the corps daelite.
The last of the State Guard to withdraw was a small infantry battalion of McBride
's division, under command of Col. T. T. Taylor
, a staff officer.
posted his men in a cornfield just in the edge of town, and as Zagonyi
and his resplendent command came dashing in, they fired a volley which emptied a third of the saddles and sent the remainder of the command back pell-mell to the main body.
There was much spoil for the ragged Missourians
in the way of fine arms and black silk velvet uniforms, slashed with gold embroidery, and much disgust in the Fremont household over such barbarous warfare, in which the fierce Hungarian commander of the advance must have participated, for he was never heard of again during the war—at least not in Missouri