FAYETTEVILLE ARKANSAS

  
Headquarters House ---------Minie Ball Hole in door

Battle of Fayetteville around Headquarters House


In March 1863, Confederate General Steele wrote General Cabell that his information was that there were "only about 1000 (Union) men" in Fayetteville. Cabell learned (erroneously) that the Union forces were preparing to withdraw. He also had been told that the locals "had burdens imposed on them by the Federal troops too grievous to be borne much longer".

While Union forces in Fayetteville were not preparing to withdraw, the units were not prepared to do full battle. In total Col Larue Harrison had around 1100 men in town when Cabell attacked. General Cabell brought about 900 men from Ozark across the mountains. They left Ozark about 3 AM on April 16, and rode until noon the next day. After resting all afternoon, they left at sunset, moving up Frog Bayou Road in the dark. After finding some Union men at a party in West Fork and arrested one officer and eight enlisted men. Cabell's men moved on toward Fayetteville, over-running a Union picket, killing at least two men and capturing two others. The shots from this engagement alerted the men in Fayetteville, allowing them to get men into position before Cabell attacked.

About 6 AM on April 18, the Confederates made their move out of the ravine that crosses east Dickson Street, toward the Union Headquarters in the Tebbett's house, now known as Headquarters House, and toward the house of Rev.Baxter of Arkansas College, just south of Headquarters House. Artillery set up on East Mountain, now Mt.Sequoyah, began to fire down upon the Union forces. One shell hit the Baxter house where a number of civilians were hiding but Headquarters House was not hit. A minie ball did pierce the front door during the battle and that door has been preserved now as an interior door. The artillery had a demoralizing effect initially on the largely untested Union troops. Cabell decided to send troops on foot to see if the Union position was sufficiently softened by the artillery, but their initial charge failed to break the Union lines. They did take the Baxter house, occupying it throughout the brief battle.

Col. Harrison sent men to knock out the Confederate artillery, when the Confederates made another cavalry charge. This charge put them between two Union companies and the crossfire was devastating to the Confederates. The Confederate artillery was silenced by Union rifle fire, although General Cabell reported they withdrew because they ran out of ammunition. With artillery no longer giving an advantage to the Confederates, the superior range on the Union rifles allowed the Union to take control. By 10 AM Cabell's men were in retreat to the south, and lacking horses, Col. Harrison chose to not follow as Cabell had hoped.

Casualties consisted of 10 Union men killed or mortally wounded, 28 wounded and 26 captured. Confederate losses are listed as about 70 killed and wounded, and 54 captured.

Union command decided they could not spare adequate forces to defend and hold Fayetteville so abandoned it to Cabell's men just three weeks after the battle. However by September Union forces had returned to occupy and hold Fayetteville through the remainder of the Civil War.

Some military action was reported by Ingenthron near Fayetteville in July and October 1862, June and August 1863, May, June and August 1864 and January 1865. Some of this could have been attacks by or against guerilla forces which were extremely active in the whole area. The town of Fayetteville suffered the most damage in February 1862, when Confederate troops retreating from suspected Union advances, looted and burned most of the businesses including all buildings around the square, as well as Arkansas College and Van Horne's Female Seminary. Some of the troops doing this damage had quartered in Fayetteville the winter before.

Bibliography:
The Battle of Fayetteville Arkansas April 18, 1863 by Russell L Mahan
Borderland Rebellion by Elmo Ingenthron



To return to Washington County Map,click here!

To return to Historic Sites Map,click here!