History of Boone County, Missouri Western Historical Company, St. Louis 1882

On Friday, December 27, 1861, about 200 Federal infantry, under the command of Capt. John Welker, of Col. Birge's sharpshooters, reached Columbia from their encampment, Middleton, twleve miles north, and took up quarters in the University. On Sunday night they left for Sturgeon. On the next evening--the North Missouri Railroad having been burned in several places, thus cutting off communication with St. Louis--about 250 cavalry, under Col. John M. Glover and a portion of Captain Campbell's company of Birge's Sharpshooters, accompanied by several wagons, came to Columbia for the purpose of procuring supplies of flour, coffee, etc., for the Fedral camp at Sturgeon. Cols. Glover and Birge were with them. Having no means with which to purchase the needed supplies, and at the early stages of the war not having adopted the policy of forcibly taking possession of what they needed, they experienced some trouble in procuring what they desired. Finally, the merchant firm of Thomas J. and S.F. Conley, who were Union men, sold them what they wanted to the amount of $300, for which a receipt was given; but it was some years after the close of the war, because of the red tape in the department in Washington, before they succeeded in collecting the bill.

The Fight at Mount Zion

On Saturday morning, December 28, 1861, several previous skirmishes between Federal forces belonging to the Third Missouri Cavalry, Col. John M. Glover commanding, and sharpshooters of Col. J.W. Birge, all under command of General Prentiss, and a confederate force commanded by Col. Caleb Dorsey, culminated in an engagement at Mt. Zion meeting-house, fifteen miles northeast of Columbia, which assumed the proportions of a battle. The following is General Prentiss' Official Report

Headquarters Army of North Missouri

Palmyra, Mo., Jan 4, 1862

Capt. John C. Kelton, Assistant Adjutant-General Department of Missouri

In pursuance of a special order, received on the evening of December 23, 1861, I proceeded from Palmyra for Sturgeon on the morning of the 24th day of December, with five companies of the Third Missouri Cavalry, Col. John M. Glover commanding. I arrived at Sturgeon on the evening of the 26th. During the following day, having learned that there was a concentration of rebels near the village of Hallsville, in Boone County, I sent forward one company of cavalry, commanded by Capt. Howland, to reconnoitre in that vicinity. Capt. Howland proceeded to Hallsville, but found no rebels. After proceeding about two miles beyond, his advance guard encountered the rebels in force, commanded by Col. Caleb Dorsey. Capt. Howland endeavored to draw off his company, having taken nine prisoners, but was overpowered. Being wounded, and having lost his horse, he was taken prisoner, with one private of his company. The remainder of his men made good their retreat, arriving at Sturgeon at nine o'clock P.M. Having learned the position of the enemy, I immediately ordered five companies of cavalry, Col. John M. Glover, commanding, and five companies of sharpshooters, Col. Birge commanding, numbering in all four hundred and seventy, to march at two A.M., at which hour I started, and after marcing a distance of sixteen miles, at eight o'clock a.m. of the 28th inst. I found one company of rebels, commanded by Capt. Johnson, in a position to the left of the road leading from Hallsville to Mt. Zion. I ordered two companies of sharpshooters to pass to the rear of the enemy, and one of cavalry to dismount and engage them in the front, it being difficult for the sharpshooters to attain their position unperceived, the enemy manifesting a disposition to retire.

Col. Glover opened fire, and succeeded in killing five, and capturing seven prisoners, from whom I learned the number and position of the main force. The enemy being posted at a church, known as Mt. Zion, in Boone County, and one mile and a half in advance, numbering near nine hundred men, I ordered the cavalry under Col. Glover forward, accompanied by two companies of Birge's Sharpshooters. Col. Birge, with them, arriving near the encampment, one troop of cavalry were ordered to dismount and engage the enemy. The sharpshooters were afterwards ordered through a field onour right to skirmish with the enemy's left, and if possible drive them from the woods.

The firing being heavy, these three companies not being able to drive the enemy from his cover, Col. Glover, with his available force, moved in double-quick to the aid of the three companies engaged, and for half and hour longer the battle raged and became a hand-to-hand fight. Capt. Boyd's company of sharpshooters were in the midst of the rebel camp. Also, Major Carrick, with Company C, Third Illinois Cavalry. When Col. Glover arrived, the rebels could not stand the fire of our rifles and retreated, leaving in our hands ninety (90) horses and one hundred and five (105) stand of arms. The battle was brought to a close about eleven A.M.

The reserve of two companies coming into action at the moment the enemy gave way, our victory was complete. After collecting our wounded, we proceeded to collect those of the enemy, placed them in the church, and sent for farmers and friends in the vicinity to render assistance. I collected wagons, made our wounded as comfortable as possible, and at four P.M. started for Sturgeon, where we arrived at nine P.M. Our loss in the battle of Mt. Zion and in the engagement of the evening previous is as follows: Killed, three; slightly wounded forty-six; severely wounded, seventeen; Rebel loss: Killed, twenty-five; wounded one hundred and fifty.

I have not been able to get a correct report of the rebel missing; but having taken thirty prisoners from the barn, their punishment is a severe one. Sixty of the rebels, with Capt. Howland and four of our men as prisoners, arrived at the camp at night, twenty miles distant from the field of battle.

Permit me to mention that our entire force behaved gallantly. I make special mention of the following officers: Col. John M. Glover, Maj. Carrick, Lieuts. Yates and Kirpatrick of the Third Missouri Cavalry; Col. Birge, Capt. Boyd, and Adjt. Temple of Birge's Sharpshooters, and Lieut. Edwin Moore, my aide. I also assure you that the men behaved with coolness and daring during the engagement.

Annexed please find the names of our killed and wounded, and list of rebel wounded, left by us at Mt. Zion. I have the honor to be, Captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant, B.M. Prentiss, Brigadier General



Severely wounded--W. Derot, Company B, since died; Sergeant Larimore, Company B; J. Manar, Company B; P. Putnam, Company B; C.H. Machie, Company H; H. Gurnon, Company H; C. Atherton, Company H

Slightly wounded--A. Henoesi, Company A; John Lynch, Jesse Chambers, L. Beach, D. martimore, W.H. Blake, Tobias Miller, Peter Edwards, Company B; Sergeant Weeks, Company D; Sergeant Lemon, Corporal Carr, J.M. Parker, J. Vinton, M. Grady, T. Slevin, Company H


KILLED--Hugh Gregg, Alfred magers, G. Milton Douglass, Company C

Severely Wounded--Andreus Goodrich, Company A, sinced died; Wm. Wright, Company B, since died; Charles Carnehan, D.H. Hindman, C.C. Washburn, Company B, since died; John R. Stewart, George Barcastle, Issac Black, Company C, since died; Wm. H. Hardin, Benjamin F. Tidell, Company E, since died.

Slightly Wounded--Capt. J.T. Howland, Company A; F.S. Morris, Company A; Joseph Washburne, Company A; Daniel Barret, Company A; J.H. Warnersbry, James Eagle, Company B; Marion Morrell, Thos. Phillipot, Henry Ferguson John Wessell, Thos Kirby, John Scroggen, William Beman, Robert Allen, Company C; Herbert Reed, J.A. Flickiner, company D; J.H. Turner, Henry Alters, Company A; Daniel Shannehan, Julius Krenling, Company B; Henry Henry, Henry S. Akers, Jesse Stelle, William H. Howell, John R. Rogers, Millard Williams, Company C; William B. Davis, John Macklin, Geo. Lopez, John W. Donaldson, Allen H. Fite, Company F.


W.C. McLean, arm broken; Wm. Philliips, shot through stomach; Wm. Swader, Callaway County (since died, right breast); Wm. T. Ives, Lincoln County, through groin; Major Thomas Breckinridge, Warren County, right arm and left breast; John H. Jones, Warren County, thigh; Samuel Barnum, Lincoln County, left shoulder; F.J. Brougham, Callaway County, neck; A.J. Parsons, Montgomery County, left thigh; Robert Snead, Lincoln County, both thighs; C. King, Lincoln County, both thighs; W.H. Vaughn, Lincoln County, throat; C. Mcdonald, St. Charles County, both thighs; Abram Bramberger, Callaway County, left breast; J.E. Mcdonnell, Montgomery County, right thigh; L. Davis, Callaway County, right cheek and neck; F.G. Henderson, St. Charles County, hand; R.S. Montford, Callaway County, calf of leg; J. Crossman, Boone County, small of back; C. Quisenberry, Boone County, right breast; ---Kernan, St. Charles County, left hand and face; John Bailey, Warren County, thigh; Capt. Myers, Warren County, side; W.R. Smith, Pike County, left shoulder; ___Martin, Pike County, leg; Lawrence Jacobie, Pike County, hand; Four names not obtained, dangerously wounded.


Neither Col. Dorsey nor any other confederate officer published an official account of the Mount Zion fight, otherwise it would have been given here. But an intelligent gentleman, who was one of his command, and who was present during the engagement, informs us that on the 27th at Grandview, in Boone County, which is near and west of the church, organized his forces, consisting of six companies of about 350 men, not all armed. The officers in command were Col. Caleb Dorsey, Lieut. Col. Cole Kent, Maj. Thomas Breckinridge and E.W. Herndon, (now a citizen of Columbia), Surgeon.

About 2o'clock, p.m. of the 27th, this force took up the line of march, intending to camp at Mount Zion church. About a half mile northeast of the church, the Federals came up and fired on their rear guard, wounding two of Dorsey's men, and then fell back. Dorsey pursued them, and three miles from the church overtook the retreating force, and fired upon them. A ten minute skirmish ensued, in which one Federal was mortally wounded, and Capt. Howland (Federal) was wounded in the thigh and taken prisoner. Dorsey's surgeon, Dr. Herndon, extracted the ball. None of Dorsey's men were killed or wounded.

On the morning of the 28th, the engagement was renewed, the force under Dorsey being about 100 yards east of the church, in the brush and timber. The Federal charge upon them was with both infantry and cavalry, but was repulsed. They again charged, and were again repulsed, after which they made a third charge. The ammunition of Dorsey's command being exhausted, he determined to fall back to his wagons. The Federals advanced upon him, and took some ten prisoners. They then marched on to the church, and seeing soldiers in the building, fired on it, whereupon two of the prisoners who were in the church, ran out and said: "There are no fighting men here: this is a hospital;" hearing which the Federal fire ceased.

Gen. Prentiss then gathered up his dead and wounded, pressed teams and wagons, and returned to Sturgeon, leaving the Confederate wounded on the field, whom Dr. Herndon distributed among the farm houses in the neighborhood. Dorsey's loss: 5 killed; 35 wounded, and 10 prisoners. Prentiss' loss (estimated): 30 killed, 60 wounded, and 10 prisoners.

The gentleman who makes this report to us, also desires it to be stated that Gen. Prentiss in every respect acted the gentleman and the soldier, in regard to the Confederate wounded, affording all the assistance in his power, and detailing a guard from his own command to keep soldiers out of the church.

We learn from a different source that among Dorsey's wounded were Clifton Quisenberry, of Boone, Capt. Myers, of Lincoln, a young man by the name of Thurman, and a Mr. Swaydor, all of whom, except Capt. Myers, died.---Swaydor at John Reed's, who lives near the church. One of the wounded also died at James Fulkerson's.

From another source, altogether authentic, it is learned that in the skirmish on the evening before the main fight at Mt. Zion, the following men of Co. A, 3d Cavalry, Missouri Volunteers, were taken prisoners by the Confederates, viz.: Capt. Jas. T. Howland; privates Geo. Hipkins, Thos. J. Maggard, John W. Peak, A.J. Johnson, Wm. B. Hatten, W.J. Morton, A.J. Goodrich and Chas. Carnahan. Capt. Howland was badly wounded in the leg; Carnahan was struck on the occiptal bone; Goodrich was the soldier mortally wounded, who died the same night.

A few days later after the fight an arrangement was effected between Gen. Prentiss and Col. Dorsey, commanding the Federal and Confederate forces, respectively, for an exchange of prisoners. Capt. Henderson represented the Confederates and Col. Glover the Federals, and the exchange was made at Sturgeon. The following are the names of the Federals exchanged:

Capt. J. T. Howland, Co.A, 3d Mo. Cavalry

Wm Morton, Co. A, 3d, Mo. Cavalry

Wm. Hatten, Co. A, 3d Mo. Cavalry

Sergeant J.C. Miller, Co. C, 3d Mo. Cavalry

Sergeant W.S. Grover, Co. C, 3d Mo. Cavalry

Bugler Thos. Orton, Co. C, 3d Mo. Cavalry

Corporal Rhino, Co. C, 3d Mo. Cavalry

Private Frank Murphy, Co. C, 3d Mo. Cavalry

Sergeant Isaiah Null, Flagg's Regiment

Private Walter Scott, 81st Ohio Regiment

After leaving Mt. Zion church, Col. Dorsey made his way westward into Perche Township, and went into camp near Everett. Here he remained a day or two, when, pursuant to orders from Gen. Price, he ordered his command to "scatter," until such time as a concentration would be proper and could be effected. In February following the major portion of the command crossed the Missouri and made its way to Price's army.