The timeline above and below shows events related to the Civil War that happened in Fayetteville and Arkansas as well as major national and regional events, which are in italics.
Congress passed the "Missouri Compromise," legislation prohibiting slavery in territories north of the parallel 36°30' north, the same parallel that would become the boundary line between the new state of Missouri and the Arkansas Territory. The compromise allowed Missouri to be admitted as a slave state despite being north of the line.
Arkansas is admitted as a slave state at the same time that Michigan is admitted as a free state.
The Arkansas General Assembly passes legislation creating a slave code, setting forth the manner in which slavery would exist in the state. The slave code included restrictions on slaves, how blacks and whites may and may not associate, and punishments — most often whipping — for slaves who break the restrictions.
The Arkansas General Assembly passes legislation prohibiting the immigration of free blacks into Arkansas. It also required free blacks already living in Arkansas to post $500 bond and provide evidence of their freedom.
The U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Dred Scott vs. Sandford case that people of African descent brought to America as slaves and their descendants born in America, whether slave or free, are not U.S. citizens and are, therefore, not protected by the U.S. Constitution. In effect, the ruling also said that Congress had no authority to prevent slavery in the territories of the United States.
February – The Arkansas General Assembly passes legislation expelling all free blacks over the age of 21 from the state.
March 5 – J.R. Pettigrew and Elias C. Boudinot begin publication of The Arkansian newspaper in Fayetteville, in part to "advocate the principles of the Democratic party, and to stay the onrushing tide of abolitionism, which threatens to overwhelm the South."
December 20 – South Carolina secedes from the United States.
April – Stephen Bedford, a merchant and staunch Unionist, is elected mayor of Fayetteville.
July 4 – The Stebbins Telegraph Company completes its telegraph line from St. Louis to Fayetteville. The line would eventually extend to Fort Smith. Because of the telegraph, newspapers as far away as Boston and New York City were able to carry reports of many of the events in Northwest Arkansas within a day or two of their occurrence.
August 10 – W.W. Moore begins publication of the Fayetteville Democrat. Moore quit publishing the paper to join the Confederate service, and the newspaper's equipment was destroyed during the war when the Confederate Army pulled out of Fayetteville in early 1862.
January 9 – Mississippi secedes from the United States.
January 10 – Florida secedes from the United States.
January 11 – Alabama secedes from the United States.
January 18 – Georgia secedes from the United States.
January 26 – Louisiana secedes from the United States.
February 1 – Texas legislature approves an ordinance of secession, and Texas voters ratify it on February 23.
February 2 – A mass meeting of 400 or 500 people is held at Fayetteville regarding the pending secession referendum. B.F. Boone serves as chair, and the convention is addressed by Robert W. Mecklin. Dr. Thomas J. Pollard read a series of resolutions that had been adopted by a convention at Boonsboro [Cane Hill] in January. The central point of the resolutions is that Arkansas should bind its fate with the "older and more powerful slave states" should the border states not be able to resolve the political issues affecting the country. The resolutions also put forward a slate of nominees for the secession convention. After the reading of these resolutions, Dr. G. W. Taylor moved that a committee of fifteen be appointed to draft a report expressive of the sense of the meeting, whereupon Stephen Bedford took the floor, and charged that the chairman had been selected a week before, that the resolutions to be reported by the committee were already prepared, and that the secretaries – James H. Van Hoose and M.C. Duke – were secessionists. These charges threw the meeting into turmoil and it adjourned without any action being taken.
February 4 – Based on rumors that federal troops are on their way to Little Rock, large numbers of men from the Delta counties arrive in Little Rock to seize the federal arsenal. The Little Rock City Council, however, passes a resolution against "unauthorized seizure of the arsenal." Gov. Elias Rector sends a note to the Captain James Totten, commander of the arsenal, asking him to withdraw from the arsenal, which Totten eventually agrees to do, removing his 65 federal troops.
February 18 – Arkansas voters turn down a proposal to secede but approve a convention to consider whether the state should secede, and they elect delegates to the convention. The vote in Washington County was 1,541 against holding a secession convention, and 569 for the convention.
March 4 – While President Lincoln is being inaugurated in Washington, D.C., a convention of state delegates opens at the State House in Little Rock to consider secession. David Walker of Fayetteville and Elias C. Boudinot, who had recently moved from Fayetteville to Little Rock, were elected president and secretary, respectively, by the delegates. A majority of the convention members — split between unionists from the north and west parts of the state and secessionists from the south and east parts — turned aside various proposals for secession.
March 5 – A meeting is held at the Washington County Courthouse and chaired by Judge Benjamin J.H. Gaines "to take the sense of the people on the inauguration of A. Lincoln." Most of the members are associated with the secessionist elements of Fayetteville, and a resolution is passed calling for the state to take steps "as would guarantee her safety."
March 16 – The Unionist delegates carry the day at the state convention, defeating the secession proposal, 39-35, but the Unionist delegates eventually agree to allow the matter of secession to be put to a vote of the people. At that time, only white men could vote.
April 8 – The States Rights Party in Fayetteville raised a large flag containing 15 stars, red and white stripes and the mottoes of "No submission to the North" and "Southern Rights." Supporters of the Union displayed a federal flag with 34 stars from the Courthouse. The New York Times reported that "an immense crowd assembled, which was addressed by Seccesionists and Unionists."
April 12 – South Carolina troops begin bombardment of Fort Sumter after federal troops at the fort refuse to surrender. Lincoln calls on the states, including Arkansas, to supply volunteers to put down the insurgency, but Arkansas Gov. Henry Massie Rector refuses.
April 17 – Virginia secedes from the United States.
April 18 – Arkansas troops seize U.S. stores at Napoleon.
April 19 – President Lincoln orders a blockade of southern ports, limiting the ability of the Confederate States of America to import needed goods for war.
April 23 – Rumors arrive at Little Rock that the federal government is reinforcing Fort Smith. Several boatloads of state militia go up the Arkansas River to Fort Smith, which they find abandoned by the U.S. troops.
May 2 – The Pike Guards are organized at Fayetteville and assigned as Company C to Colonel John R. Gratiot's Arkansas State Troops. These companies of the Arkansas State Troops were disbanded in August and September after the Battle of Wilson Creek. The Pike Guards were disbanded on September 1.
May 6 – David Walker reconvenes the state delegates to the secession convention, and the delegates vote for Arkansas to secede from the United States. Five members voted against secession, but Walker asked that a second vote be cast and that the five dissenters change their votes to show unanimity for secession. Isaac Murphy, a former Fayetteville resident serving as a delegate from Madison County, was the only delegate to vote against secession on the second ballot.
May 7 – The Tennessee legislature approves an agreement to enter into a military partnership with the Confederate States of America, and Tennessee voters approved secession on June 8.
May 18 – Arkansas is admitted to the Confederate States of America.
May 21 – North Carolina secedes from the United States.
June – At Fayetteville, Americus Rieff organizes Rieff's Mounted Company of the Arkansas State Troops. The company served as an independent cavalry troop, reporting directly to Confederate General Benjamin McCulloch. All state troops were disbanded in August and September to form companies for Confederate service. Rieff's Company was discharged on August 13, three days after the Battle of Wilson Creek.
July 4 – The United States Congress issues a call for 500,000 men to serve in the Union Army.
July 21 – The Union Army suffers its first defeat at the Battle of Bull Run in Virginia.
August 10 – The first Fayetteville casualties occur at the Battle of Wilson Creek, also referred to as the Battle of Oak Hills, southwest of Springfield, Mo. The bodies of Captain S.R. Bell, Sergeant Williman Brown and Privates Samuel McCurdy and Henry Fulbright were returned from the battlefield for interment at Mount Comfort Cemetery. Members of the Masonic Lodge, of which Bell was also a member, and a large number of residents escorted the soldiers' remains to the cemetery where they were buried with honors. "The exercises were solemn and imposing; and the large concourse of citizens assembled showed the esteem in which the deceased patriots had been held by their fellow-citizens of Washington county," wrote The War Bulletin, a newspaper published in Fayetteville during 1861 and early 1862. Although Confederate forces triumphed in the battle, they withdrew to Arkansas, a move that disheartened Confederate sympathizers in Missouri who were trying to persuade Missouri to secede. Adding to the difficulty for the Confederates, many of the soldiers who served at the Battle of Wilson Creek were in the service of the Arkansas State Troops rather than the Confederate Army. Having had a taste of war, many of them refused to join the Confederate Army when the state troops were disbanded in August and September.
August 30 – Gen. John C. Fremont, commander of the Union Army in the trans-Mississippi, issued an order of emancipation for slaves, but that order was soon countermanded by President Lincoln, and Fremont was soon replaced as the commander of the trans-Mississippi.
October 9 – Company E of the 1st Battalion, Arkansas Cavalry (Confederate), is organized at Fayetteville. Erasmus Stirman of Fayetteville is eventually elected colonel of the regiment, and it becomes known as Stirman's Battalion. During the latter part of 1861 and early 1862, the Confederate Army begins to build up military stores at Fayetteville. The building of the Fayetteville Female Institute on the northwest corner of College Avenue and Dickson Street is used as a primary arsenal, and troops from Louisiana and Texas encamp on the campuses of Arkansas College and the Ozark Institute, among other places.
October 26 – Company D of the 1st Battalion, Arkansas Cavalry (Confederate), is organized at Fayetteville to join Company E.
November 5 – Company G of the 16th Arkansas Infantry Regiment (Confederate) is organized at Fayetteville. Companies from Carroll, Johnson, Madison, Pike, Searcy and Van Buren counties are also organized to form the regiment.
November 18-19 – Companies D and E of the 17th Arkansas Infantry Regiment (Confederate), "Griffith's Regiment," are organized at Fayetteville. Companies from Hempstead, Madison and Sebastian counties are also organized to form the regiment.
November 20 – Although Missouri stays a Union state, the Confederate States of America admits Missouri as a member state, and Missouri secessionists try to operate a government while in exile.
December – John Henry Brown begins publication of The War Bulletin in Fayetteville to keep Confederate regiments apprised of military news. In an explanatory note, Brown wrote: "This sheet has nothing to do with local or State matters. The editor resides in Texas and is here, a stranger, to aid in the defence of constitutional Liberty against the mercenary minions of the child-murdering, woman-insulting, house-burning, negro-stealing, "Bull-Run-"ing, infidel, Yankee nation—no more, no less." The publication's last issue was Feb. 22 just before Union troops pushed south into Fayetteville.
December 4 – Confederate Companies A and K of the Third Regiment Louisiana Infantry are ordered to leave “Camp Benjamin” at Cross Hollows and go to Fayetteville to serve as provost-guard.
December 10 – The Confederate States of America claims Kentucky as a 13th member state, although the state itself never voted secession.
December 26 – Martial law is declared in St. Louis by general order of Major General Henry Wager Halleck, who had replaced John C. Fremont as commander of Union troops in the trans-Mississippi.
January 8 – The Bank of Dixie is organized at Fayetteville by Washington Lafayette Wilson, a merchant, without charter from the state, and the bank issues notes.
January 15 – The Holcomb and Barnard Drug Store of Fayetteville begins issuing notes for customers and issued more on January 17 and 27.
January 16 – Confederate Major General Earl Van Dorn is put in charge of the trans-Mississippi in an effort to tamp down the infighting between General Benjamin McCulloch and General Sterling Price.
January 25 – The Stirman and Dickson mercantile in Fayetteville begins issuing scrip for their customers.
January 28 – Confederate troops from Louisiana and Texas quartered at Fayetteville get their first taste of snow when more than a foot of snow falls in Fayetteville. The "first Battle of Fayetteville," a snowball fight among comrades in arms, broke out between the Butterfield House and the square, "with 25, 30 and sometimes 50 of the assailants heaving, pitching, pawing, scraping and kicking more snow. ... They fell faster than Yankees at Leesburg," wrote The War Bulletin.
February 6 – Union General Ulysses S. Grant successfully captures Fort Henry in Tennessee, and then Fort Donaldson 10 days later.
February 11 – General Benjamin McCulloch forbids the granting of furloughs or leaves of absence. Repair of wagons and shodding of mules at the quickest possible dispatch is ordered the next day.
February 16 – The 3rd Regiment of the Louisiana Infantry (Confederate) left Cross Hollows and moved south, arriving at Fayetteville the next day and taking over the main building of Arkansas College for their quarters.
February 25 – Hearing word that the Union army in Missouri is moving south toward Fayetteville, General Benjamin McCulloch orders Confederate forces under his command to burn all the commercial buildings, military stores and vacant houses in Fayetteville. Most of the buildings on the square are set afire. The Fayetteville Female Institute, which had been used as an arsenal, is burned. Exploding shells and ammunition from it land on the roofs of houses and Arkansas College, but residents contain the fires.
March – Jonas March Tebbetts of Fayetteville is arrested on order of General Benjamin McCulloch and jailed at Fort Smith. He was released after the death of McCulloch at the Battle of Pea Ridge.
March 7-8 – Battle of Pea Ridge. Union troops push as far south as Fayetteville before pulling back to Pea Ridge, near the Missouri border where supply lines were more secure. Confederate troops, not wishing to attack the entrenched Union forces head-on, swing northwesterly from Fayetteville through Elm Springs, Osage Springs and Bentonville to approach the Union troops from behind their lines. Although the Union troops are outnumbered about 16,000 to about 10,000, they are able to secure a victory, in part because Confederate Generals Benjamin McCulloch and James McIntosh were killed and Colonel Louis Hebert was captured, totally disrupting the Confederate command structure. A mistaken order had also caused the Confederate supply train to turn around, leaving the Confederate troops short on ammunition by early March 8. Confederate General Van Dorn ordered his troops to retreat toward Huntsville although many companies also came south through Fayetteville. Federal casualties were listed as more than 200 killed, nearly 1,000 wounded and 200 missing. Confederate casualties were initially estimated by Van Dorn at 800 killed and perhaps 200 to 300 taken prisoner, but more recent research has estimated the total number of casualites on the Rebel side at perhaps 2,000.
April 6-7 – Battle of Shiloh on the Tennessee River leaves around 15,000 Union soldiers and about 10,000 Confederate soldiers dead or wounded.
April 24 – Flag Officer Daniel Farragut leads 17 Union ships up the Mississippi River and captures New Orleans, effectively cutting off supply routes up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers.
June 16 – Company A of the 34th Arkansas Infantry Regiment (Confederate), also known as "Brook's Infantry Regiment," is organized at Fayetteville.
June 17 – Company K of the 34th Arkansas Infantry Regiment (Confederate), also known as "Brook's Infantry Regiment," is organized at Fayetteville.
June 17 – Confederate General Hindman issues General Order No. 17, which calls on Arkansas residents not already conscripted into the Confederate army to form independent companies of their own whenever 10 or more men can be assembled. These companies are to cut off federal pickets and scouts and kill pilots of federal gunboats and transports.
June 20 – Company C of the 34th Arkansas Infantry Regiment (Confederate), also known as "Brook's Infantry Regiment," is organized at Fayetteville. Other companies from Benton, Crawford, Franklin and Sebastian counties are also organized between June and August to form the regiment.
July 15 – Action near Fayetteville.
August 12 – William Kidd issues scrip at Fayetteville that is redeemable by him.
August 29-30 – The Confederate Army defeats the federal army at the Second Battle of Bull Run in northern Virginia.
September 17 – More than 26,000 Confederate and Union troops are killed or wounded during the Battle of Antietam in Maryland. Confederate General Robert E. Lee withdraws to Virginia.
October 24 – Skirmish at Fayetteville.
October 27-28 – Action near Fayetteville at Oxford Bend on the White River, just down river from present-day Goshen. A correspondent for the New York Times reported that Gens. Totten, Schofield and Herron moved their troops south toward Fayetteville. Herron's troops drove Confederate pickets at about 4 a.m. and learned that the rebel troops were encamped about nine miles east of town. "He dashed forward with his cavalry, and left his infantry to follow up. He succeeded incoming up to their camp before they had time to run, pushed boldly forward, and engaged them instantly. A very brisk little fight ensued, in which the Seventh Missouri State Militia played a conspicuous part, gallantly sustained by the First Iowa Cavalry. The traitors fought gallantly for about an hour, at the expiratian [sic] of which time they were so panic-stricken and alarmed by the report of two artillery shots fired by our column, that without standing on any ceremony they incontinently fled—fled in the utmost confusio and consternation, leaving eight dead on the field, some wounded, all their baggage, and many of their wagons, which were destroyed."
November 2 – Company H of the 15th Arkansas Infantry Regiment (Confederate) is formed with members from Fayetteville and surrounding Washington County. The regiment is renamed the 21st Arkansas Regiment in December but later renamed the 15th (Northwest) Arkansas Infantry Regiment.
November 9 – Skirmish between Fayetteville and Cane Hill.
December 7 – Battle of Prairie Grove. Union troops under General Francis J. Herron pass through Fayetteville in the late-night hours of December 6 and early December 7 on their way to bolster the troops of General Blunt, already near Prairie Grove. Confederate troops under General Thomas C. Hindman engage Herron in battle, hoping to overwhelm and defeat his troops before then turning to meet Blunt. Herron's artillery proves decisive in thwarting Hindman's efforts, and Blunt's troops arrive in time to prevent Hindman's victory. Federal forces suffer about 1,250 casualties and Confederate forces suffered slightly more than 1,300 casualties. During the night, Hindman's troops withdraw south toward Van Buren. The battle, though tactically a draw, leaves the Union troops as victors strategically. Most of the wounded are moved to Fayetteville, where numerous public buildings and private homes were used as hospitals.
December 13 – Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
January 1 – President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves.
January 8 – Albert W. Bishop, a lieutenant colonel in the Union army, is named provost marshall of Fayetteville. Before the end of the year, his book, Loyalty on the Frontier; or, Sketches of Union Men of the South-west : with Incidents and Adventures in Rebellion on the Border, is published by R.P. Studley and Co. of St. Louis, Missouri. After the war, Bishop serves as the second president of the Arkansas Industrial University.
January to April – The 1st Battery Light Artillery (Union) is organized during the first half of 1863 at Fayetteville and Springfield, Missouri. It is moved to Springfield after April 25 before returning to Fayetteville on September 21.
January 23-27 – Scout from Fayetteville to Van Buren.
January 27 — The Boston Morning Journal of Boston, Massachusetts, reported that “an enthusiastic Union demonstration occurred” in Fayetteville on this date. Speeches were made by a Dr. Johnson, described as a prominent Union refugee, and Col. Albert W. Bishop of the 1st Arkansas Cavalry, among others. According to the story, fifteen homeguard companies were organized, and hundreds of citizens signed a petition to Congress requesting an election for a member of Congress from Arkansas.
January 29 – General Ulysses S. Grant is put in command of the Army of the West with orders to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi.
February — The guerrilla leader William "Wild Bill" Heffington brings more than 100 followers from Mount Magazine to Fayetteville to become part of the Union Army.
February 5-12 – Scout from Fayetteville to Arkansas River.
March 25 – The Arkansas 1st Regiment Infantry (Union) is organized at Fayetteville and attached to the Southwest District of Missouri.
March 27 — The Springfield Daily Republican of Massachusetts reports from Fayetteville that Confederate Gen. William Lewis Cabell "is collecting scattered rebel forces north of the Arkansas river, evidently with the design of operating against our troops in that section."
March 29 – Federal scouts from Fayetteville.
April 18 – Battle of Fayetteville. Confederate cannonade from the steps of East Mountain are aimed at the Union headquarters at the Tebbetts House on Dickson Street, and the majority of the battle occurs near the intersection of College Avenue and Dickson. Confederate cavalry charge the Union infantry but are repelled. The Confederate troops withdraw by noon and return south of the Boston Mountains. Some reports also indicate two of the main buildings of the Fayetteville Female Seminary were burned about this time, possibly during the battle.
April 25 – Union troops stationed in Fayetteville withdraw to Springfield, Missouri. Many families sympathetic to the Union cause also leave Fayetteville for Missouri to travel under the safety of the withdrawing Union troops.
May 1-4 – The Union Army is decisively defeated at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia.
June 4 – Skirmish at Fayetteville.
July 1-3 – The Union Army turns the tide of the war at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
July 4 – Confederate troops under siege for six weeks at Vicksburg, Mississippi, surrender.
August 21 – William Quantrill, a guerrilla sympathetic to the Confederacy, and 450 supporters raid Lawrence, Kansas, killing more than 180 men and boys.
August 23 – Skirmish at Fayetteville.
September 19-20 – Confederate troops decisively win the Battle of Chickamauga, Tenneseee.
September 21 – The Arkansas 1st Battery Light Artillery (Union) is re-stationed at Fayetteville, where it serves until March 1864.
October 11-14 – Union demonstration at Fayetteville.
November 19 – President Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address during dedication of the battlefield in Pennsylvania.
November 23-25 – Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant break the siege of Chattanooga and rout the Confederate troops.
December 16-31 – Scout from Fayetteville.
March 24 – Isaac Murphy, a former Fayetteville resident and staunch Unionist, is elected governor of the reconstituted state government.
May 4 – Union troops under Union Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman begin a coordinated campaign south, with Grant engaging Confederate General Robert E. Lee while Sherman's troops marched toward Atlanta.
May 19 – Skirmish at Fayetteville.
June 24 – Skirmish at Fayetteville.
August 14 – Skirmish at Fayetteville.
August 26-27 – Skirmishes at Fayetteville.
September 2 – Union General William T. Sherman captures Atlanta, Georgia.
September 12-15 – Scout by Union troops from Fayetteville to Huntsville.
September 22 – Confederate Gov. Flanagin calls the legislature into session but a quorum of the legislators do not show.
October 12 – Skirmish at Fayetteville.
October 20 – Skirmish at Fayetteville.
October 25 – Confederate operations under Col. Brooks begin around Fayetteville that lead to a siege of Fayetteville on October 26 and last through mid-November. Union troops and sympathetic Fayetteville families erected breastworks around the square. Confederate troops under command of Gen. James Fleming Fagan join Brooks, firing cannonades into the Union stronghold and unsuccessfully charging the breastworks on Nov. 14, according to the New York Tribune. Damage from one cannonball is still evident on the west end of the Walker-Stone House on Center Street. Fagan's troops withdraw to rejoin Confederate Gen. Sterling Price as his forces fall back through Arkansas following his raid into Missouri.
November 8 – Abraham Lincoln is re-elected president of the United States.
January 24 – Skirmish at Fayetteville.
January 31 – Congress approves the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing slavery.
April 2 – Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant advance through Confederate troops at Petersburg, Virigina, and move on to take the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.
April 9 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.
April 14 – While attending at performance at Ford's Theater, President Abraham Lincoln is shot in the head by James Wilkes Booth, and Lincoln dies the next morning. Vice President Andrew Johnson becomes president.
May 11 – Confederate troops under General M. Jeff Thompson surrender, effectively ending the war in Arkansas.
May 26 – Most forces in the trans-Mississippi theater are surrendered by Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner, acting in the name of Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith, who was traveling to Houston.
June 23 – Brigadier General Stand Watie becomes the last Confederate general to surrender his troops, made up of soldiers from the Creek, Seminole, Cherokee, and Osage nations.
National Cemetery is established on the south side of Fayetteville for the burial of Union troops who died in the region during the Civil War. Reinterments began the same year.
June 22 – Arkansas is readmitted to the Union.
June 10 — A group of Fayetteville women meets at the Methodist Church and organizes the Southern Memorial Association to secure a site for proper burial of Confederate soldiers who had died at battles in Fayetteville, Prairie Grove and Pea Ridge. The Confederate Cemetery is eventually established on three acres of land on East Mountain (Mount Sequoyah) near the eastern end of Rock Street.