During the Civil War, Springfield was a frontier community of about 1,500 people, but it was the largest and most important place in southwest Missouri. The Northern and Southern armies vied throughout the early part of the war to occupy its strategic position. The Federal defeat at Wilson's Creek in August of 1861 gave the Southern forces possession, but Zagonyi's charge two and half months later returned Springfield to the Union. The Confederacy came back near Christmas of 1861 before being ousted again in February of 1862. Marmaduke's defeat at the Battle of Springfield in January of 1863 ended the contest, placing the Union firmly in control, but Springfield continued to pulse with activity throughout the war. Historian Larry Wood chronicles this epic story.