This Day in the Civil War

Friday Oct. 25 1861

Battle cries, especially to signal the start of a battle, were nothing new, but it required some ingenuity to come up with one in Springfield, Missouri today. “Fremont, and the Union!” was the cry of Maj. Charles Zagonyi as he led the Federal horsemen on a furious charge into into the town. The affair was more noteworthy for this drama than any fighting, as only a tiny Confederate rearguard was there to oppose them. Sterling Price and his army were far away by this time, as Fremont had postponed the chase to engage in political infighting. Fremont was hoping that the dramatics would help him keep his job as Union commander in St. Louis, but in fact it was far too late for that. He had succeeding in uniting the state, but only insofar as both Unionists and Secessionists were unanimous in detesting him. Causing Abraham Lincoln horrid political embarrassment did not help either.

Saturday Oct. 25 1862

The Battle of Antietam Creek, at Sharpsburg, Maryland, had occurred more than a month ago. The Army of Northern Virginia, unhampered by any pressure from Gen. George McClellan, had withdrawn back across the Potomac River and was busy rebuilding itself in peace. Meanwhile, aside from shifting some units back closer to Washington D.C. to defend the capital, McClellan had undertaken no offensive action at all. A vastly better organizer and administrator than a combat leader, McClellan busied himself in trivialities, such as a telegram he sent to the War Office today complaining that his horses had "sore tongues" and were fatigued. Lincoln went ballistic and fired a telegram back: “Will you pardon me for asking what the horses...have done since the battle of Antietam to fatigue anything?”

Sunday Oct. 25 1863

Relatively little Civil War fighting occurred in the state of Arkansas, but one such event occurred on this day. Confederate Gen. John Marmaduke led an attack on Pine Bluff, Ark. He had issued a demand that the town surrender yesterday, and today received word that the demand was refused. He assaulted the city, and managed to occupy a part of it. Unable to take over the whole thing, and assuming that even if taken it would be well-nigh impossible to hold, he withdrew his forces.

Tuesday Oct. 25 1864

It had taken more than a day to get in gear, but once the Federal armies who had broken Sterling Price’s Confederate army in the Battle of Westport got serious about pursuit, things rapidly got fierce again. Today Gen. Alfred Pleasanton’s cavalry lined up for a charge and hit the fleeing wagon trains near the confluence of the Marais des Cygnes and Mine Creeks. Two defending divisions broke, but soon Shelby’s men came up in support. They held for awhile on a line at the Little Osage River, allowing more of the wagons to escape, but the forces opposing them were just too strong. Price bitterly burned about a third of the wagons, and pressed the remainder south at as fast a pace as could be managed.

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