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Springfield, MO — The Springfield-Greene County Park Board, in partnership with the University Club of Springfield, Missouri, and the Westside Neighborhood Betterment Association, will dedicate a new play feature and re-dedicate an 88-year-old historical marker Friday, Oct. 25, 4 p.m. at Zagonyi Park, 630 S. Park Ave., at West Mt. Vernon Street. The dedication takes place on the 158thanniversary of Zagonyi’s Charge, a Civil War action that took place in the area Oct. 25, 1861.
Zagonyi Park’s new universal-design accessible play feature was made possible through a $97,500 Neighborhood Works grant awarded by the City of Springfield to the Westside Neighborhood Betterment Association. The grant also funded new sidewalks, a community garden plot with adjacent irrigation, three drinking fountains, pavilion repairs and tennis court resurfacing at the park. Additional grant-funded picnic shelters are planned at the 10-acre park, which was established in 1969 and named for Zagonyi’s Charge.
On Oct. 25, 1861, two and a half months after the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Union Major Charles Zagonyi, with 326 men, lead a cavalry charge near Mount Vernon Road (present-day West Mt. Vernon Street) into 1,000 Confederate troops camped west of 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, occurring early in the war, made national news and is now known as the First Battle of Springfield, or simply Zagonyi’s Charge.
Eighty years after the battle, in 1931, the University Club, a professional organization which has placed 21 historical markersin Greene County, commemorated Zagonyi’s Charge with a stone monument, first placed near the Frisco train depot in downtown Springfield, and after the depot was demolished , relocated on private property along Mt. Vernon Street, just west of Jordan Creek.
Recently, the private property became overgrown and the future of the historical marker appeared uncertain. Neighbors from the Westside Neighborhood Betterment Association, along with the present-day University Club, concurrently had an idea: move the marker to Zagonyi Park. The University Club and Wommack Monument Co. moved, cleaned and installed the marker in what’s now the park’s circular community flower garden.
"Knowledge about the history of a community is essential to understanding that community’s culture and values,” said Bob Trewatha, with the University Club. “The Zagonyi’s Charge marker commemorates an important part of our history, and the University Club feels it must be preserved and maintained for us and future generations.”
Gregory Wolk, with the Missouri Humanities Council, executive director of Missouri’s Civil War Heritage Foundation and author of “Friend and Foe Alike: a Tour Guide to Missouri’s Civil War,” will speak about the significance of Zagonyi’s Charge at Friday’s event. Additional speakers will represent the Westside Neighborhood Betterment Association, the University Club, and the Park Board.
Please note, Mt. Vernon Street s currently closed just west of Kansas Expressway. Access the park from West Walnut Street or West Grand Street, via Park Ave. In the event of severe weather, updates will be announced here, and on the Park Board's Facebook and Twitter accounts.
For media inquiries, contact Jenny Fillmer Edwards, Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, at 417-874-2943 (office) or 417-224-5510 (mobile).