Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pea Ridge #13 - The Skirmish at Fayetteville, Arkansas

Headquarters House in Fayetteville
At 11:20 a.m. on February 23, 1864, 150 years ago today, a dispatch from General Alexander Asboth announced that his troops had just raised the U.S. flag over Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Ordered south from the Union army camps at Sugar Creek, Asboth hit Fayetteville, driving out Confederate pickets and riding with his troops into the center of town to find public buildings burning around him. A small force of Southern cavalry was found formed on the south side of town and even as his men raised the Stars and Stripes from the top of the Washington Courthouse, orders were given to the Third Iowa Cavalry to charge the lingering Confederates:

Gen. Alexander Asboth, USA
...All the troops were in the best spirits, and the Third Iowa Cavalry, forming the advance guard, behaved very well, dismounting at command to act as infantry in the bushes. Of the activity, zeal, and energy of Colonel Phelps I cannot speak to highly. - Gen. Alexander Asboth, USA, February 23, 1862.

Casualties in the Skirmish at Fayetteville were light. One Union soldier was wounded, while one Confederate was killed and two others wounded (one thought to be mortal).

Another View of Headquarters House
As he consolidated his position in town, Asboth set up his headquarters at the home of Judge Jonas March Tebbetts. The home, now the Headquarters House Museum, still stands in Fayetteville. Built in 1853, the house is one of the few good examples of Greek Revival architecture left in Northwest Arkansas. It is located at 118 East Dickson Street in Fayetteville and is owned by the Washington County Historical Society

Legend holds that Asboth displayed his famed sweet tooth while in residence at the Tebbetts' House. A jar of preserves supposedly was set out for everyone at the table to enjoy but he ate them all himself.

Gen. Alexander Asboth, USA
The occupation of Fayetteville was welcomed by the Unionist citizens, but many of those who favored secession left with the Confederate troops. To those who remained, Asboth issued a printed declaration on the same afternoon:

...I have occupied your town to arrest the wanton destruction of public and private property already inaugurated by the Confederate troops; to sustain those of its inhabitants who have been faithful to the laws; to encourage all who may have been faithful to the laws; to encourage all who may have temporarily wavered in their duty under the threats of bad and designing men, and to establish the law and order essential to the public weal. While, therefore, calling upon the loyal citizens of this town to aid me in the furtherance and accomplishment of these objects, I at the same time offer to all who may have faltered in their fealty, but who shall now truthfully declare their allegiance to the laws of the Union, the protection of its flag. Deserted fire-sides cannot be guarded, but every house containing a living soul shall of the protection of our power. None, therefore, should depart. Those absent should return. - General Alexander Asboth, USA, February 23, 1864.

The first Union occupation of Fayetteville would be relatively brief, but for the moment symbolized that Union troops had driven all significant Confederate forces out of Northwest Arkansas and into the Boston Mountains to the south.

I will continue to post on the Pea Ridge Campaign over coming days, so be sure to check back often at You can read more about the Battle of Pea Ridge anytime at

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