Near Leola in Grant County, Arkansas — The American South (West South Central)
Red River Campaign
Battle of Jenkins' Ferry
Jenkins' Ferry State Park
Act 10 of 1961 authorized this 37-acre state park as a commemorative site and recreation area. The park includes the ferry site where you are standing. The ferry was operated by the Jenkins' family prior to the Civil War and aided travelers on the Camden Road - a major travel route in pioneer Arkansas.
In April of 1864, this site gained Civil War fame. Retreating from Camden to the safety of Little Rock, the Union Army was attacked by Confederate forces. General Frederick Steele used the ferry site as a bridgehead for spiriting his troops across the flooded Saline River and out of Confederate reach.
Jenkins' Ferry, Marks' Mills and Poison Springs State Parks, and the 1836 Courthouse at Old Washington Historic State Park, which served as the Confederate Capitol of Arkansas at the time of the battle, are included in The Red River Campaign National Historic Landmark.
Red River Campaign (Battle of Jenkins' Ferry)
Spring of 1864 saw war's violent hands seize southern Arkansas as Union leaders launched the Red River Campaign. Its purpose
On April 26, following such overwhelming defeats as Marks' Mills and Poison Springs, the Union VII Corps under General Frederick Steele pulled out of Camden heading north. General E. Kirby Smith's Confederate troops were less than 24 hours behind. The heavy Union wagons moved slowly as torrential rains turned the Camden Road into a quagmire. On April 29, Confederate infantry caught the Union army in the flooded white oak forest of the Saline River bottoms just south of Jenkins' Ferry.
The battle raged for two days. Confederate forces mounted three major attacks but failed to halt the Union army's escape. Steele's troops managed to slip across the swollen Saline at Jenkins' Ferry on a mobile wooden bridge suspended by India Rubber pontoons. Once across, the bridge was sunk.
Without a bridge, the Confederates could not follow. Bedraggled Union troops moved northward to higher ground where they burned many of their cumbersome wagons. The starving army then pressed on to Little Rock. The Campaign was over! The disastrous Red River Campaign was the Union's last major encroachment into south Arkansas.
Confederate 336 wounded
Union 471 wounded 78 dead 40 missing
Total 827 wounded 168 dead 41 missing
The Saline River Bottoms
Found in the West Gulf Coastal Plain of southern Arkansas, Jenkins' Ferry Battlefield is on the banks of the free-flowing Saline River. The river's vast flood plain plays an integral part in the riverine ecology and in the history of the area.
The damp, muddy canebrakes and wet marshes of this bottomland support abundant plant and animal life. Heavy rainfall and thick vegetation made travel difficult for settlers and nearly led to the destruction of Frederick Steele's Union Army in April of 1864. The heavy Union wagons bogged down in the flooded river bottoms south of the river. This gave the Confederates time to attack. Using an India rubber pontoon bridge, the Union Army was able to cross the river and escape.
Erected by Arkansas State Parks.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Roads & Vehicles • War, US Civil • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1864.
Location. 34° 12.691′ N, 92° 32.922′ W. Marker is near Leola, Arkansas, in Grant County. Marker can be reached from State Highway 46 1.9 miles south of State Highway 291, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Leola AR 72084, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Jenkins Ferry / Pontoon Bridge (within shouting distance of this marker); General Samuel Rice / Confederate Cannons Captured (within shouting distance of this marker); Battle of Jenkins' Ferry (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Refugee Children / Supplies Destroyed (approx. 2 miles away); Officers Killed / Union Wounded (approx. 3 miles away); Skirmish at Guesses Creek (approx. 5.8 miles away); Clash at Whitten's Mill (approx. 7.2 miles away); Tulip (approx. 10.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Leola.
Also see . . . Jenkins' Ferry State Park. (Submitted on October 27, 2010, by Lee Hattabaugh of Capshaw, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on October 27, 2010, by Lee Hattabaugh of Capshaw, Alabama. This page has been viewed 1,633 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on October 27, 2010, by Lee Hattabaugh of Capshaw, Alabama. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.