Affair at McGuire’s

Location: Washington County
Campaign: Demonstration against Fayetteville
Date: October 12, 1863
Principal Commanders: Captain Rowen Mack (US); Colonel William Brooks (CS)
Forces Engaged: 40 men of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US); Unknown (CS)
Estimated Casualties: None (US); None (CS)
Result: Union victory

A reconnaissance raid, this engagement saw Federal forces charging into the midst of an enemy encampment before withdrawing. Although the skirmish involved a daring attack, neither side reported any casualties.

Major Thomas Hunt commanded part of the First Arkansas Cavalry (US) stationed in Fayetteville (Washington County) in October 1863. The Federals knew that Confederate units under the command of Colonel William Brooks were operating in the area, and Hunt estimated that the enemy numbered around 1,000. The Union troops in the area numbered approximately 500.

On October 11, Hunt received a demand for surrender of the town and his command from Brooks. Hunt replied that he would not surrender without a fight and immediately reinforced his picket posts and sent patrols out to find the enemy force. At least one of these patrols engaged an enemy force, and Hunt was able to estimate the enemy’s strength at 600 armed men and 200 unarmed.

The Union forces were concentrated around the town square. Around 8:00 p.m., a patrol reported back that Brooks was located along the Huntsville Road and indeed intended to attack the town. The Federals prepared for a dawn assault on their lines, which did not materialize. Later that morning, another report placed Brooks in camp at Green McGuire’s. A patrol of forty men under the command of Captain Rowen Mack and Lieutenant William Patton moved out to gather intelligence.

Finding the enemy camp, Patton and five men attacked the pickets and ran through the camp. Approaching a small church used by Brooks as his headquarters, the Federals fired their guns into the structure before retreating. The Confederates pursued the Union troops, who were able to escape.

This attack and other preparations convinced Brooks not to attack, and he led his command away from the city.

For additional information:
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 22, Part I. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1889.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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