One hundred and fifty years ago, the Civil War was at its climax in Arkansas. Following several years of armies chasing each other across the region, the Confederate army had the blue coats right where they wanted them- in full retreat into an area where the Union forces would surely surrender after being cut of from Little Rock. Had the plan gone accordingly, the outcome of the war would have surely been different.
General Steele was fleeing Camden toward Little Rock following a series of devastating battles. The Confederate army was closing in fast as the rebel forces caught up with the yankees in the Saline River bottoms near Guesses Creek and Jenkins Ferry. A two day battle erupted leaving both armies weary and completely bereft of supplies.
As rain flooded the bottoms, both armies fought for two days in a quagmired region of flooded fields and impassable roads. Though half of Steele’s army was able to retreat to Little Rock unscathed, the remaining federal forces dug in and held their lines as wave after wave of Confederate attacks failed, leaving field after field filled with dead and wounded soldiers from both sides.
Steele escaped narrowly back to Little Rock, leaving the Confederate forces behind in the flooded Saline River bottoms. The battle of Jenkins Ferry was the last large scale military action that took place during the Civil War in Arkansas.
Military actions that took place in Arkansas this week one hundred and fifty years ago include a skirmish near Princeton on the 28th; skirmishes in the Saline River bottoms and the Ouachita River on the 29th; engagement at Jenkins Ferry and at Whitmore’s Mills on the 30th; a skirmish in Pine Bluff and Lee’s Creek on May 1; a skirmish at Richland Creek on the 3rd; a skirmish on the Saline River on the 4th; and a skirmish at Richland Creek on the 5th.