Zagonyi Park, established in 1969, was named for a Civil War action that took place nearby more than 100 years before.
In the 1860s, what’s now Springfield’s Westside neighborhood was mostly farmland and woods. It also became the site of a Confederate camp and surprise Union attack.
On Oct. 25, 1861, Union Major Charles Zagonyi, with 326 men, led a cavalry charge along Mount Vernon Road (present day West Mt. Vernon Street) into 1,000 Confederate troops camped along Jordan Creek. The attack routed the Confederates, allowing Zagonyi’s men to enter the Springfield public square and pull the Rebel flag down from courthouse. The event is now known as the First Battle of Springfield, or simply Zagonyi’s Charge.
Eighty years after the battle, in 1931, Springfield’s University Club commemorated Zagonyi’s Charge with a stone monument, placed on private property along West Mt. Vernon Street, just west of Jordan Creek. Recently, after a fire on the property, the future of the monument appeared uncertain.
Neighbors from the Westside Neighborhood Betterment Association, along with the present-day University Club, concurrently had an idea: move the monument to Zagonyi Park. The Westside Neighborhood Betterment Association applied for Neighborhood Work funding to make the move and implement other park improvements.
Work began in late November, when a crew from Wommack Monument Co. removed the marker and began restoration work. The stone was installed in the northwest corner of Zayonyi Park, in the center of an existing circular pathway, in December.
The Neighborhood Works funding will also cover installation of a new community garden, surrounding the marker, as well as a new water line to provide garden irrigation and a drinking fountain. Funding is also in place for a new universal-design accessible playground unit.
Work is expected to be complete this coming spring with a dedication ceremony to follow.
Information about Zagonyi’s Charge, including photos of the monument, are available through the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s Local History collection. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources also maintains an informational marker in Zagonyi Park.