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Doc. 106. Zagonyi's charge at Springfield, October 25, 1861.

Fremont's report.

Headquarters in the field, near Hamansville, Mo., Oct. 26, 1861.
Capt. McKeever, Assistant Adjutant-General:
Yesterday afternoon Major Zagonyi, at the head of my guard, made a most brilliant charge upon a body of the enemy, thrown up in line of battle at their camp in Springfield, two thousand or two thousand two hundred strong. He completely routed them, cleared them from the town, hoisted the National flag on the Court House, and retired upon a reinforcement which he has already joined. Our loss is not great. This successful charge against such very large odds is a noble example to the army. Our advance will occupy Springfield to-night.

J. C. Fremont, Major-General Commanding.

Zagonyi's despatch.

near Bolivar--ten A. M., Oct. 26th.
General: I respectfully report that yesterday, at four P. M., I met at Springfield about two thousand rebels formed in line of battle. They gave me a very warm reception, but your guard with one feeling made a charge, and in less than three minutes the enemy was completely routed. We cleared the city of every rebel and retired, it being near night and not feeling able to keep the place with so small a force.

Major White's command did not participate in the charge. I have seen charges, but such brilliant bravery I have never seen and did not expect. Their war cry, “Fremont and the Union,” broke forth like thunder.

Charles Zagonyi, Major Commanding Body Guard.

Zagonyi's report.

Colonel J. H. Eaton, Assistant Adjutant-General, Springfield, Missouri:
sir: According to the order of Major-General Fremont, I left the camp south of the Pomme de Terre River on Thursday the 24th instant, at half-past 8 o'clock P. M., and proceeded toward Springfield. About eight miles from that place I captured five men belonging to picket guard, and foraging parties. A sixth escaped and gave the alarm to the rebels. I reached Springfield, a distance of fifty-one miles, at three P. M. on the 25th. Knowing that the enemy was apprised of our coming, I made a detour of five miles to attack from another side, but instead of finding the enemy in their old camp I came suddenly upon them, drawn up in line of battle, as I emerged from a wood near the Mount Vernon road. The place was too confined for me to form my men. I had to pass two hundred and fifty yards down a lane and take down a rail fence at the end of it, form in their camp, and make the first charge. My men belonging to the Body Guard amounted to one hundred and fifty, and were exposed from the moment we entered the lane to a murderous cross fire. Our first charge was completely successful. Half of my command charged upon the infantry and the remainder upon the cavalry, breaking their line at every point. The infantry retired into a thick wood where it was impossible to follow them. The cavalry fled in all directions through the town. I rallied and charged through the streets in all directions about twenty times, clearing the town and neighborhood, returning at last to the Court House, where I raised the flag of one of my companies, liberated the prisoners and united my men, which now amounted to seventy, the rest being scattered or lost. As it was nearly dark, I retired, in order not to run the risk of [236] sacrificing the rest of my men, who were exhausted with the labors of the march and the battle. Twenty men, with a corporal, who were without horses, took possession of the town, collected the wounded and placed them in the hospital, picked up the dead, ordered out the Home Guard, and preserved order throughout the next day.

On the 27th, at five o'clock A. M., I arrived again in the city, and from the statement of citizens, scouts, and prisoners, (the latter being Union soldiers placed in front of the enemy's ranks to be shot at,) I ascertained that the rebel strength, arrayed to receive our first charge, was two thousand one hundred men. They had concentrated all the forces in the city to receive us.

From the beginning to the end the Body Guard behaved with the utmost bravery and coolness. I have seen battles and cavalry charges before, but I never imagined that a body of men could endure and accomplish so much in the face of such a fearful disadvantage. At the cry of “Fremont and Union,” which was raised at every charge, they dashed forward repeatedly in perfect order and with resistless energy. Many of my officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates had three or even four horses killed under them, capturing new ones from the enemy. I cannot mention any names without doing great injustice to my command. Many performed acts of heroism; not one but did his whole duty. Our loss is as follows: Killed — corporals, six; privates, nine. Total, fifteen. Wounded — officers, four; noncommissioned officers, seven; privates, sixteen. Total, twenty-seven. Missing — sergeant, one; corporal, one; privates, eight. Total, ten. Total loss, fifty-two.

The loss of the enemy in killed alone, from the statements of citizens, scouts, and prisoners, was at least one hundred and six; how many wounded have since died I have no means of knowing, as they removed them in the night with wagons. Twenty-three of these dead were buried by the Body Guard. We took twenty-seven prisoners, four thousand and forty dollars in gold, and about sixty stand of arms. Major White's command left me at the beginning of the action, and before my first charge, and I saw no more of them until the next day at ten o'clock. Captain Naughton and Lieutenant Connelly, who followed part way down the lane, were both wounded, (the latter mortally,) whereupon this company turned and followed the others too, in spite of the efforts of the sergeant. Major White himself was made a prisoner before the battle, and placed with others in the enemy's front rank, but escaped uninjured.

In conclusion, I beg to urge the necessity of new clothing and arms for my command. Fortyfive horses are killed or unfitted for use. Uniforms, haversacks, and extra clothes carried in the haversacks, are so riddled with bullets as to be useless. Revolvers are also seriously damaged by the enemy's bullets.

Very respectfully,

Chas. Zagonyi, Commanding Body Guard. Springfield, October 28, 1861.

Major White's report.

Springfield, October 30, 1861.
Major-General Fremont: On the 24th inst., after my return with my command, one hundred and fifty-four strong, from Lexington, I reported to you, and by your orders reported for further orders to General Sigel, at his headquarters. General Sigel ordered me to reconnoitre in the vicinity of Springfield, and, if I deemed it advisable, to attack the rebel force said to be encamped in that neighborhood. I immediately pushed my command forward, and on the evening of the 24th was overtaken by Major Charles Zagonyi and his command, and under orders from you reported my command to him. We proceeded together and halted at daybreak for an hour's rest, as I was then suffering from a severe illness contracted on my Lexington expedition, and was then too weak to mount my horse. Major Zagonyi suggested that I should remain for a short time at a farm-house on the road, and then overtake the command. I did so, and after a short rest proceeded on to Springfield with an escort of a lieutenant and five men. I pushed on very fast, and was surprised that I did not overtake my men, but was still more so when I was suddenly surrounded near the borders of Springfield by two companies of rebel cavalry, and captured, with my escort. I broke my sword, but was forced to surrender my papers and other effects. I have since learned that Major Zagonyi left the main road at a point distant from Springfield, and, as he left no one to inform me of the fact, I of course had run unawares within the rebels' lines. The rebels conducted me to their camp, and a crowd of excited soldiers surrounded my little party, cocking their pieces, and preparing to murder us. Two rebel officers interfered, and guarded us from them. The rebels, having heard of the approach of our force, made preparations for defence by throwing a force of four hundred riflemen in ambush in the woods bordering the road that skirted their camp, forming five hundred cavalry on the open field on which they camped, and ambushing the balance of their forces in a cornfield and thicket at their rear. Their forces consisted of Colonel Johnston's cavalry regiment, Colonel Schable's infantry, and independent corps of infantry under Colonel Turner. Their whole force, twelve hundred strong, was commanded by Colonel Frazer. An hour after my capture our forces arrived, and the attack was commenced by a brilliant charge by Major Zagonyi. His brave men were exposed to a terrific fire from the rebel ambush, but stood the fire nobly. My squadron of cavalry, under command of my senior captain, Captain Charles [237] Fairbanks, flanked the enemy by a countermarch, and routed the riflemen from their ambush. They charged at three different times upon the main body of the rebels, with whom I was, as they retreated from one position to another. The rout was soon complete, and I was borne away with my flying captors. The party having me in charge halted about twelve miles from the scene of action, at the house of a Union man, and made their preparations to remain for the night. Seizing a moment when I was not watched, I told my host that I was a prisoner. He despatched his son secretly to inform his neighbors of the fact, and a few Home Guards of the vicinity rallied, surrounded the house, and, being admitted by me, captured the rebels. Returning to Springfield with my prisoners, I found the place abandoned by our troops, with the exception of a few stragglers from my own squadron and that of Major Zagonyi's. Doctor Melcher, the doctor in charge of those wounded left after the battle of Wilson's Creek, and Doctor Hughes, my own surgeon, were dressing the wounds of our brave men who had fallen in the conflict of the night before.

Collecting those of our men left in town, I posted a guard around the town, and found that after making my picket detail I had a reserve of two men. We received a flag of truce from the enemy with as much ceremony as I could muster, and impressed the bearers with an idea that we had a large force, under the dread command of General Sigel, on the outskirts of the village.

After a day and night of terrible anxiety to my little band, our reinforcements arrived, and we delivered up our charge.

I find that the loss sustained in the action by my own command in killed, wounded, and missing is thirty-three. As soon as possible I will give a detailed report.

Very respectfully,

Frank J. White, Major and Aide-de-Camp commanding Squadron of Prairie Scouts.

St. Louis Democrat narrative.

camp Lyon, Springfield, Mo., Monday, October 28.
On Thursday evening last, while encamped at Camp Haskell, thirty-four miles from Warsaw, and fifty-one from Springfield, Major Zagonyi, of the Body Guard, received orders to take a detail from each of the three companies of his own command, and uniting it with Major White's battalion of Prairie Scouts, proceed to Springfield by a forced march, and take possession of the place. It was understood that the city was held by but about three hundred rebel troops, and no opposition whatever was anticipated to the progress of Major Zagonyi's command.

The Major, stopping in camp only long enough to cook one ration, and rest his men and horses from the fatigues of the eighteen-mile march of that day, was with his command duly on the road by eleven o'clock P. M. At day-break on Friday, he halted at a point five miles this side of Bolivar, where he made another brief halt, allowing the men an opportunity of eating their ration, and the horses of getting a little feed. Proceeding again, he met with no signs of the enemy until within about eight miles of this city, when a squad of some dozen or fifteen armed men were discovered taking wheat from a barn on the prairie near by. A platoon of the Body Guard was sent after them, and six of them captured, the others succeeding in making good their retreat through the neigh-boring woods.

It was then ascertained that the men were a foraging party from a large rebel force at Springfield. Proceeding farther on, the Major gained additional information from Union citizens in regard to the enemy's numbers. From these accounts, it seemed that the place was held by a force at least five or six times as large as was supposed prior to leaving the Headquarters of General Fremont. Notwithstanding all this, the undaunted Major resolved to press on and examine for himself; but the farther he progressed toward the town, the more emphatic were the statements as to the large force with which the town was held.

In the mean time, some of the foraging party, who had managed to make good their escape, had apprised the rebels of the approach of the Federal cavalry, and long before he arrived before the town, they had made their dispositions for receiving it. The first seen of the enemy was a short distance from town, when the advance of the Body Guard discovered a full regiment, drawn up on selected ground near the road, prepared to receive them. The ground not being favorable for offensive operations with cavalry, after a consultation with his guide, the Major resolved to give this force the go by, cross over the prairie to the westward, and approach the city by the Mount Vernon road.

This manoeuvre was successfully accomplished, but upon arriving within about a mile of the city by this route, the citizens gave the Major information that the eneny, one thousand eight hundred or two thousand strong, were here, too, drawn up and prepared to meet him, but a quarter or a half mile ahead. This was about three or four o'clock. Men, women, and children came flocking down to the roadside, and with tears in their eyes welcomed the Federal force; and while assuring them of their hearty welcome, cautioned of the large force ready to receive them, and besought the Major and his officers to hesitate ere they rushed in upon them with their little force of but about three hundred men. The Major had not made a forced march of over fifty miles, to take possession of a town, to return without at least making an attempt to carry out his instructions. He had, besides, the most unlimited confidence in the drill and effectiveness of his own immediate command, the Body Guard, and was, perhaps, himself animated by a soldier-like desire to do [238] a gallant deed. Placing his own command in the front, and himself in advance of all, he led the way toward the point where the enemy was drawn up prepared to meet him.

The ground selected by the rebels for their reception of the Major's command was in the immediate vicinity of their camp, on the “Mt. Vernon road,” about half a mile west of the city. It is the same road over which our troops marched out to meet the enemy prior to the battle of Wilson's Creek, and by a somewhat singular coincidence the head of the same Wilson's Creek — here, however, a mere brook — runs through the lot in which the present engagement took place.

As the Major was to approach from the west, the rebels had scattered skirmishers throughout the dense woods or chapparal on either side, who from the first greeted his approach with a scathing fire which emptied several saddles. The woods and rough bushy ground to the south of the road, was also full of their skirmishers, hidden in the tops and behind bushes and trees. The main body of the force, however, was drawn up in the form of a hollow square, in a large open field to the north of the road, the infantry bordering along a high Virginia rail fence, nearly to the brook, and also at the head of the field bordering on the woods, and the cavalry on the other side of the field, also supported by the forest.

Upon reaching the vicinity of this place, Major Zagonyi ordered an advance at a trot, until, when fairly in the woods, the pace was increased to a gallop. When the fire first opened, for some cause, yet to be explained, the two companies of the First Missouri Cavalry, and the Irish Dragoons, composing Major White's battalion, countermarched to the left, and were seen no more by Major Zagonyi, who, with his command, alone proceeded down the road through the fire of the enemy. Upon reaching the open field, an attempt was made to tear down the fence and charge upon the enemy. It was soon discovered, however, that this would be impossible without a heavy loss, and they immediately made a rush down the road, over a brook, where, in a measure shielded from the enemy's fire, they levelled the rails and effected an entrance. Here, in the midst of the briars and stubble bordering the brook, he succeeded in forming his men, and, giving the word, with the Major at their head, they gallantly charged up the hill of the open field, right into the midst of their foes. As they charged, the command spread out fan-like, some charging to the right, some to the left, and others straight up to the woods in front.

The cavalry to the right were scattered almost instantaneously; the infantry made a somewhat firmer stand, but it was only for a moment. The charge was so furious, so well directed, and so compact, that the rebel ranks were scattered like leaves in an autumn wind. Some of them took to the woods, some to the cornfield, where they were met and killed by Major White's command, who had made a detour and come around that way, and some fled wildly toward the town, pursued by the insatiate guards, who, overtaking them, either cut them down with their sabres or levelled them with shots from their pistols. Some were even chased through the streets of the city, and then killed in hand-to-hand encounters with their pursuers.

Of course all this could not be accomplished without heavy loss on the side of the guards. Under the well-directed fire of the enemy's sharpshooters, the little band of only one hundred and sixty-two, rank and file, contending against one thousand eight hundred, must necessarily have suffered severely. The list of killed and wounded, which I herewith enclose, shows how severely. There are yet about thirty or forty missing, who. scattering in the confusion of the pursuit, probably lost their way, and have been taken prisoners by the scattering bands fleeing from the city.

Pursuing a portion of the rebels into town, the Major here assembled his command, or such portions of it as were at hand, raised the Stars and Stripes upon the Court House, detailed a guard to attend to his wounded, and then fearful that the enemy might become cognizant of his small force, and rally, determined to retrace his steps toward Bolivar, where he could meet reinforcements.

This was undoubtedly a wise movement on the part of the Major, although it appears that the rebels were far too much terrified to think of returning, and that he might with safety have remained in the town. As it was, he returned to within five miles of Bolivar, where he halted for reinforcements. His little force had ridden over eighty miles, and had been for over twenty-four hours without food.

In the mean time Major White's command had made a detour through the cornfield, and reached the town a little while after Zagonyi had left, and took full possession of the same.

The courier being just on the point of departure, I am forced to forego further details of subsequent operations of Major White.

I append a full list of the killed and wounded of his command:

Killed of the Body Guard.--Corporals:----Schneider, Co. B;----Norrison, Co. C:----Chamberlain, Co. A; Privates:----Wright, Co. B;----Ross, Co. B;----Osburg,----Frei;----Slattery Co. B;----Davis, Co. B;----Duthro, Co. A; Wm. Vanway, Co. C; Alexander Linfoot, Co. C; Dennis Morat, Co. B; J. Shrack, Co. B;----Franz, wagoner, Co. A; and John H. Stephens, Springfield, (citizen,) killed by mistake.

Wounded.--Patrick Naughton, Captain Irish Dragoons, shot in the arm near shoulder; slight wound; Patrick Connelly, First Lieut. Irish Dragoons; dangerously, twice through the chest; N. Westerburg, First Lieut. Co. B, Body Guard, shot in shoulder and right forefinger shot off; J. W. Goff, Second Lieut. Body Guard, [239] Co. C, shot in the hip, slight; Joseph C. Frock, Lient. Body Guard, Co. A, flesh wound in the leg; E. L. Dean, Corporal, Co. C, Body Guard, slight wound in right side; Julius Becker, Corporal, Co. A, Body Guard, in the neck; dangerous, and will probably die; S. B. Underwood, Corporal, Co. B, Body Guard, shot in shoulder, slightly; H. M. Diggins, private, Co. C, Body Guard, flesh wound in the thigh; C. H. Bowman, private, Co. A, Body Guard, in the head, slightly; Edward Carney, private, Irish Dragoons, shot in the side, dangerously; B. F. Stabler, private, Co. C, Body Guard, shot in the wrist; F. Landerking, private, Co. A, Body Guard, in the hand, one finger off; Wm. B. Swan, private, Co. B, Body Guard, slightly; C. W. Moore, Co. C, Body Guard, slightly;---Nelman, Co. B, Body Guard, sabre cut and bruises on the head, dangerous; Charles Gilsticht, Irish Dragoons, shot in the arm; Jerold Connor, Irish Dragoons, shot in the hip; Wm. J. McDonald, Co. A, Body Guard, flesh wound in the thigh; John Frank, Co. B, Body Guard, in the shoulder, slight; A. L. Weiss; Co. A, Body Guard, shot in the thigh; Louis Weinel, Co. B, Body Guard, shot in the thigh, slight; George W. Holbrook, Co. B, Body Guard, shot in the elbow, slight fracture; R. M. Smith, Union citizen of Miller County, a prisoner, and wounded, sabre cuts on head; Daniel L. Jones, Co. C, Body Guard, shot in thigh, dangerously; R. M. McDonald, sergeant, Co. C, Body Guard, shot in the leg, slight; First Lieut. Joseph Kennedy, Co. C, in the arm.

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