The Battle of Fayetteville
This view of the front lawn of
the Headquarters House
looks out on the scene of
heavy fighting during the
Battle of Fayetteville.
East Mountain
Confederate forces launched
their attack from this ridge on
April 18, 1863. The view was
taken from the college site.
The Battle of Fayetteville - Fayetteville, Arkansas
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Fayetteville, Arkansas
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Fayetteville, Arkansas
"I could have whipped them badly."
On April 18, 1863, the Confederate forces of
Brigadier General W.L. Cabell launched a
sudden attack on the Union command of
Colonel M. LaRue Harrison.

The Battle of Fayetteville took place in the
heart of the downtown area of the Arkansas
city. A Union victory, it was one of the last
major engagements of the Civil War in
Northwest Arkansas.

Union and Confederate forces had fought for
control of the region in 1862 at the Battles of
Pea Ridge, Cane Hill and Prairie Grove. By
the spring of 1863, Fayetteville and the
surrounding area were firmly in Union hands
although active guerrilla bands still prowled
in the surrounding mountains.

Once firmly in Union hands, Fayetteville
emerged as an important recruiting center for
the Northern army. As Union leaning men
made their way through the lines to
Fayetteville, they were enrolled in the military
and provided arms, officers and training.

By April of 1863, the 1st Arkansas U.S.
Infantry and the 1st Arkansas U.S. Cavalry
were stationed in Fayetteville under the
command of Colonel M. LaRue Harrison.
The effective strength of the command was
around 1,100 men.

The presence of the Federals in Fayetteville
was a matter of great concern to the
Confederate forces in the region, most of
which were arrayed in positions along the
Arkansas River to the south. Reports coming
across the mountains blamed the Union
troops for destruction and atrocities and the
Confederates decided to strike.

Leaving his camps at Ozark, a community on
the Arkansas River, Brig. Gen. W.L. Cabell
rode north on the Mulberry and Frog Bayou
Road (the approximate route of today's Pig
Trail Scenic Byway) on April 16, 1863. The
general's command consisted of around 900
men, all mounted, and 2 pieces of field
artillery.

Although Harrison had sent scouts out to
watch the mountain crossings in the
direction of Ozark, they failed to alert him to
the movement of Cabell's command. The
Confederates were able to snap up a picket
post on the outskirts of town and attacked
Fayetteville a few minutes after sunrise on
the morning of April 18, 1863.

The city of Fayetteville has grown dramatically
since the time of the battle, but it is still
possible to identify the location of most of the
key landmarks of the battle.

The Confederates approached via what is
now East Huntsville Road and poured up into
the ravine between College Avenue and the
foot of Mount Sequoyah (also called East
Mountain).

Cabell deployed his two field pieces on the
slope of the mountain and formed his men in
a rough north-south line along the lower
reaches of the ridge.

Stunned into action by the sounds of gunfire
that erupted when the Confederates attacked
the outlying pickets, Col. Harrison quickly
formed his men into a line that ran from
southwest to northeast through the heart of
today's downtown Fayetteville.

This line centered on the Tebbetts or
Headquarters House, an 1858 structure that
still stands on East Dickson Street. The
house was Harrison's headquarters and his
men took up positions in and around the
house and its outbuildings, as well as
behind shrubs in the yard.
Headquarters House
The Headquarters House in downtown Fayetteville
was the Union command post during the Battle of
Fayetteville.
The men of the 1st Arkansas U.S. Infantry
had not yet been supplied with uniforms and
Harrison was concerned that they might fall
victim to friendly fire during the battle, so he
moved most of the regiment into a sheltered
position to the rear of his main line. Most of
the fighting fell to the dismounted cavalrymen.

Over the next several hours, the Southerners  
attempted several charges on the Union line
and shelled the Federals at short range with
their two cannon, but they were unable to
break Harrison's line.

The most dramatic event of the battle came
at around 9 a.m. when Col. James Monroe of
the 1st Arkansas Cavalry (C.S.) led a
mounted charge west up Dickson Street
against the Union center positioned at the
Headquarters House and around the
intersection of Dickson and College.

Although the charge was described as
"gallant and desperate" by Harrison, it was
turned back. The Confederates had charged
into hornet's nest that brought them under
fire from both the front and right flank. Col.
Harrison reported that Confederate men and
horses were piled "in heaps in front of our
ordnance office."

At about the same time, two companies of
dismounted Union cavalry approached to
within range of the Confederate cannon and
opened fire on the gunners. One man was
killed and several wounded.

Running low on artillery ammunition and
realizing that he could not hope to carry the
Union lines, General Cabell ordered the
Confederates to withdraw. Hampered by a
shortage of horses, the Federals did not
attempt to follow.

Exact casualties from the battle are difficult to
assess, but Harrison reported that Union
losses included 4 killed, 26 wounded, 4
captured and 35 missing. Of the missing, at
least 26 were captured and paroled by the
Confederates. Southern losses in the battle
were reported by Cabell to include around 20
killed, 30 wounded and 20 missing.
National Cemetery
The Union dead from the
battle are buried at the
Fayetteville National
Cemetery.
Union Headquarters
The Headquarters House still
bears scars received from
bullets during the Battle of
Fayetteville.
Confederate Cemetery
Fayetteville's Confederate
Cemetery overlooks the
ravine through which
Southern troops made their
attack.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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