Fremont Body Guard
Ohio, Civil War

compiled by Larry Stevens

References for this Unit


This guard was a body of cavalry selected from a host of applicants on account of the high intelligence, the fine physique, and the manifest aptitude of its members for military service. Without question it was one of the finest bodies of cavalry ever seen in the United States service; made up of ardent young Americans, mainly from Ohio and Kentucky, including only thirty foreigners.
The Guard especially distinguished intself in the battle of Springfield, Missouri, where numbering one hundred and fifty men under Major Zagoni, it routed a force of two thousand Rebels. It advanced cautiously against the Rebels until within half a mile; then halted and drew sabers; and a moment later the men were dashing toward the enemy, shouting, "Hurrah for Cincinnati!" "Old Kentucky forever!" "Remember the Queen City, boys!" "Fremont and Union!" They were exposed to a terrific fire, and fifty two men, over one third of the entire number fell upon the field. Four officers out of nine were wounded, but still the guard pressed on. Zagoni was at the head of the column, and every man seemed to struggle to be foremost. The Rebels soon broke and fled with a loss of one hundred and seven men killed and thirty captured. Among the dead were one Colonel and several Captains; and among the prisoners was one Lieutenant Colonel. The field of battle gave distinct evidence of the fierceness of the conflict. In one place not ten yards square lay four dead horses, and near them their fearless riders. This victory was achieved after a march of one hundred and five miles in forty eight hours, upon one meal, principally of salt beef.
When these young heroes returned to St. Louis they were met by an order to disband them "for sentiments expressed at Springfield;" so the official document read; and the offensive sentiments were, "Fremont and Union." No explanation was vouchsafed. The brilliant victory was ignored, and those men, returning triumphant from their first battlefield, were insulted out of the service. They were refused rations, forage, clothes, and pay; and were reduced to the extremest suffering. General Sturgis went to review them before mustering out, but he was so much impressed by their appearance that he declared himself unable to discharge such men, and so the ceremony was postponed. Price appeared again on the line of the railroad and the Guard were at once above par. Compliments were heaped upon the men; the most advantageous offers were made to them if they remained in the service, and it was even proposed to incorporate them into the regular army. But the men felt too keenly their former insults, and accordingly they were mustered out.
The Fremont Body Guard occupies but one page in history, and none save its slanderers need blush at what is written thereon. It has been the subject of a graceful little volume, entitled "The Story of the Guard," written by Mrs. Jessie Benton Fremont.

From: Ohio in the War. Whitelaw Reid. Moore,Wilstach & Baldwin. Cincinnati. 1868

More about the Civil War in Ohio.

Copyright © 1995 Larry Stevens

Last updated October 26 1997