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Siege of Fayetteville

From Fayetteville, Ark.
Col. Brooks's Investment of That Post
His Reinforcement By Fagan
Rebel Attack and Repulse
Gallant Conduct of Our Troops

[Correspondence of the Missouri Democrat]

Fayetteville, Ark. Nov. 14


Late last month I forwarded you a history of military operation in and about Fayetteville. I propose to resume in brief, and by so doing inform the “outside barbarians” how we campaign in this mountain region.

Colonel Brooks, with his command, numbering about two thousand five hundred men, remained after his repulse on the 25th of October investing the Post just as closely as his sense of prudence and his fear of bullets would permit, declaring that Col. Harrison should have neither forage for the public animals, nor subsistence for his men. By good fortune we had twenty days and one quarter rations on hand, and, therefore, were in no trouble on this score, well knowing that ere it was exhausted. Price's campaign must be ended and our pressure relieved. In the matter of forage, papers were tight. We had but two hundred horses and could not send out a train. To do so was to ensure its capture. Colonel Harrison, with his usual prudence, hit an expedient to furnish his horses, by furnishing each mounted man with a sack, dashing the men out through the enemy's lines, and back, bringing forage enough to keep our stock alive. Once Captain D.C. Hopkins, of our 1st regiment Arkansas cavalry, with 275 men was attacked by Brooks's entire command, and only succeeded in saving his men by skill and daring; fighting his way for five miles. Thus we lived and watched, well assured that if the fortunes of war should compel Price to move his army out through Northwest Arkansas, we would have a hard struggle. Brooks expected it, and told his friends that “when Price came down he would have men and guns enough to raise the 1st Arkansas cavalry out of their boots.” Colonel H. expected it and day and night he worked to complete and strengthen our earthworks. He knew the spades were his main dependence. By the 1st of November it was almost completed, and then we knew that Price was out of Missouri, and the time had come to test our manhood. Early on the morning of 3d, scouts reported General Fagan approaching from the west with a column of 8,000 men and two guns. At 10:30 A.M. they drove in our pickets, and at 11, opened with two guns well served, on our earth-works, at the same time deploying heavy lines on the south and left of us, gradually extending their lines on the north. At noon they had massed an attacking column on the north, and soon attempted to deploy and dress a line to charge the works. In this they were completely foiled by our sharpshooters in the rifle pits threw so close and deadly fire among them that the men would not come to time - three times more they made the attempt and each time failed most signally. When I state that Fagan's division was by Price considered the most reliable and least demoralized of his remaining army, it is significant evidence of the disheartened condition of their army. When old soldiers cannot be made to dress their line for a charge (the nature of the ground compelling them to form under our fire,) under skirmish fire, they are demoralized indeed. From eleven, A.M., to sunset, they shelled us incessantly - constantly endeavoring to advance their skirmish line, but without success, our men lying in their works showing so little fear that General Fagan remarked “there must be 8,000 men in that fort, they keep so still and cool.” This must have been an after conclusion, for in the morning, when investing us on the northwest and south, he showed not force on the east, but put two regiments in ambush on the east behind the first mountain, with orders to “remain in the saddle and to charge the Feds, the moment they reach you in their retreat;” showing plainly that Fagan expected to scare us out with a few shells. But this time we were as once before, when Colonel Brooks, with 950 men, demanded a surrender of Major Hunt of ours, who was in command of 350 men at this post. Brooks said, when Hunt declined, “they don't scare worth a d-n;” and I dare say Fagan thought the same.

Our offices behaved as officers should, and the men were cool as soldiers ever are.

More anon. X.

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