The Battle of Mount Zion Church was a battle of the American Civil War, which occurred on December 28, 1861, in Boone County, southeast of Hallsville, Missouri. The resulting Union victory here and elsewhere in central Missouri ended Confederate recruiting activities in the region and pushed conventional Confederate forces out of the area until the desperate fall 1864 invasion by General Sterling Price and his Missouri State Guard.

Advance into Hallsville

Brig. Gen. Benjamin M. Prentiss led a Union force of 5 mounted companies and 2 companies of Birge's Western Sharpshooters into Boone County to protect the North Missouri Railroad and overawe secessionist sentiment there. Prentiss's forces left the Northern Missouri headquarters in Palmyra, Missouri, on December 24.

After arriving in Sturgeon on December 26, Prentiss learned about a band of Confederates near Hallsville. He sent a company to Hallsville the next day that fought a Confederate force under the command of Col. Caleb Dorsey and, in a 10 minute skirmish about one half mile north of Mount Zion Church, itself situated about 3 miles southeast of Hallsville and 15 miles northeast of Columbia. Prentiss's troops suffered casualties, including men taken prisoner, before retreating back to Sturgeon by 6 p.m.

Battle at Mt. Zion

On December 28 at about 2 a.m., Prentiss set out with his entire force to meet Dorsey's force. While the Confederates numbered around 900, they were local volunteers, many of whom were not armed. They routed one company of Confederates on the road from Hallsville around 100 yards east of Mount Zion Church and learned that the rest of the force was in the churchyard, situated on a high hill. Prentiss advanced on the church, making three charges. At the third, the Confederates exhausted their ammunition, fell back to their wagons, and were overrun. The battle ended around 11 a.m.

Battle of Mount Zion Church Aftermath

The Confederate irregulars were effectively routed from northern Boone county to Columbia. Dorsey's forces lost 25 dead, 150 wounded, and an additional 60 captured, including an officer. Additionally, the Confederates lost wagons, 90 horses, an 105 arms. The remainder dispersed, with Dorsey heading westward into Perche township, the northwest section of Boone County towards the Missouri River. After negotiation and exchange of prisoners, Dorsey made camp near Everett, Missouri. Within days Dorsey received orders from General Price to scatter his forces, effectively ending attempts at Confederate recruitment in Central Missouri. Remaining elements of Dorsey's command crossed the Missouri and joined General Pierce in February 1862. While guerrilla warfare reappeared to the south and west of Columbia, Confederates did not thereafter face Union forces in conventional battle in the area until the Battle of Centralia in 1864.

Battle of Mount Zion Church
Part of the American Civil War
Date December 28, 1861
Location Boone County, Missouri
Result Union victory
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
Benjamin M. Prentiss Caleb Dorsey
5 Mounted companies & 2 Infantry companies ~900
Casualties and losses
3 dead, 63 wounded, 4 captured ~25 dead, ~150 wounded, 60 captured