Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Battle of Mount Zion Church

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Prentiss was making a sweep through Boone County looking for rebels. He found them just outside the town of Hallsville on December 27, where a company of his cavalry came across a much larger force of the enemy and had to beat a hasty retreat, leaving their captain and a private in the hands of the rebels.

Prentiss set out with his entire force of 440 men at 2am the next morning, 150 years ago today. He marched 16 miles in the predawn darkness and passed through Hallsville, heading west. At 8am his vanguard encountered a company of rebels guarding the road.

Prentiss tried to surround this force, but the move was spotted and the rebels withdrew. Some prisoners told him the main rebel body was at Mount Zion Church, one-and-a-half miles further on, and numbered about 900 under the command of Col. Caleb Dorsey. Prentiss immediately moved forward and a lively battle ensued. The rebels enjoyed good cover in some woods near the church and the Union troops had trouble dislodging them. After much firing the battle descended into a hand-to-hand fight for half an hour before the timely arrival of the rest of Prentiss’ troops, who seem to have been delayed in their maneuvers, made the rebels quit the field around 11am.

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