When Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch established his Confederate headquarters at Fayetteville in 1861, with him was another Texan — John Henry Brown — who had served as a soldier in the Texas militia, been elected to the state legislature and had edited several newspapers.
This last occupation proved to have more effect on the troops stationed at Fayetteville than any soldierly or political avocations. While serving on McCulloch’s staff, Brown began publication of a newspaper at Fayetteville and named it The War Bulletin.
Brown had been a delegate to the Texas Secession Convention and served as chair of the committee that prepared the Texas articles of secession. That his persuasions were with the Confederate States of America and secession were in little doubt for Texans who knew him, but he spelled those preferences out in a rather blunt explanatory note in the first issue of The War Bulletin:
“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."
Although a “stranger” to Fayetteville, Brown was not unfamiliar with the region. He was born in Pike County, Missouri, just north of St. Louis, and apprenticed at several newspapers beginning at age 12, continuing to learn that trade until he moved to the Republic of Texas at age 17. His life in Texas proved to be a revolving mixture of journalism, soldiery and politics. He worked at the Texas Sentinel in Austin before joining skirmishes against Indians on the Texas frontier, returning to newspaper work again after getting married. He served in the Texas state legislature in 1854 and as mayor of Galveston in 1856, back to the legislature in 1857, back to the military, and back to newspaper editing before the Civil War broke out.
Brown started publishing The War Bulletin in December of 1861 after bringing a press and type from Springfield and requisitioning two rooms of the Washington County Courthouse for his operation. The tabloid publication printed on an infrequent rate, sometimes as quickly as weekly but other times with up to two weeks between publication. It included updates on the status of Confederate troops elsewhere in the country, reprints of general orders, strident defenses of McCulloch, and listings of regiments based at Fayetteville.
The War Bulletin’s stories ranged from the first frolicking snowball fight among the troops of Texas and Louisiana who were stationed at Fayetteville to the solemn burial at Mount Comfort Cemetery of the first Fayetteville casualties of the war.
In addition to the newspaper, Brown may have aided the local economy by printing scrip and notes for several businesses. The so-called Bank of Dixie, the Holcomb and Barnard Drug store, and the Stirman and Dickson mercantile all issued scrip during January 1862 because U.S. money was no longer legal tender, and Confederate money was not readily available. Brown’s press was the only known source of local printing at the time.
The War Bulletin’s last issue came out on February 22, 1862, just before Union troops pushed south out of Missouri toward Fayetteville, and Confederate troops withdrew from Fayetteville, setting torch to any city buildings deemed to have military value.