Affair at Fayetteville

Location: Washington County
Campaign: None
Date: June 24, 1864
Principal Commanders: Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison (US); Buck Brown (CS)
Forces Engaged: Unknown (US); 200 cavalry (CS)
Estimated Casualties: 3 killed, 1 captured (US); None (CS)
Result: Confederate victory

One of a series of hit-and-run actions across the state in 1864, this brief Civil War engagement demonstrates how Confederate forces could continue to engage Federal units with little fear of reprisal.

The number of horses and mules required by armies during the Civil War necessitated enormous amounts of forage and supplies to care for these animals. As Union outposts in the state exhausted the available food near their camps, the Federal troops were forced to move farther away from their base of safety in order to ensure a continual supply of food. These small, isolated groups of men and animals made tempting targets for Confederate forces.

On June 24, 1864, Colonel Marcus LaRue Harrison of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) dispatched a number of his men north of Fayetteville (Washington County), where they protected about 240 grazing mules. They were attacked by a group of about 200 guerrillas under the command of Buck Brown. The guerrillas killed two soldiers and a freedman working the herd and captured another soldier.

As most of his cavalry was operating near the Indian Territory in an effort to capture Brown, Harrison did not have a sufficient number of cavalry available to launch an effective pursuit. He sent two groups of men after the raiders, but most of these pursuers were on foot and no match for the speed of the enemy. Harrison reported that the enemy was able to escape to the Maysville (Benton County) area.

Attacks like these made it difficult for Union outposts to function. Confederates could easily launch small unit actions that kept the enemy off balance and steal necessities, such as mules. This type of warfare was prevalent in Arkansas by this point of the war as large-scale actions became rarer.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 34, Part I. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1889.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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