On October 12, 1861, Robert Patterson, and the Benton Cadets Independent Company of Infantry, left St. Louis with Major General John C. Fremont’s army of 38,000 men. The objective was the defeat of Major General Sterling Price’s army, which was located at Neosho, southwest of Springfield, Missouri. Traveling in advance of the army was Fremont’s Body Guard, under the command of Major Charles Zagonyi. On October 25, Zagonyi’s forces defeated a larger Rebel force just outside Springfield when the Rebels tried to ambush Zagonyi’s cavalry. After the battle, Zagonyi briefly entered Springfield, hailed Union sympathizers, released Union prisoners, and then returned to the main army.
Fremont and his army entered Springfield on October 27 and established a temporary stronghold. On November 5, Lincoln relieved Fremont of his command and replaced him with Major General David Hunter. Lincoln’s decision to replace Fremont was based on the declarations Fremont made on August 30 where he declared martial law, death to guerrillas caught behind his lines, and freedom to slaves belonging to rebels. These declarations led to a public rebuke of Fremont by Lincoln who was trying to keep the vital Border States in the Union. After Fremont’s dismissal, the Benton Cadets moved to Rolla, Missouri where they stayed until mustered out on January 8, 1862.