Battle of Jenkins' Ferry
Interpretive panels at Jenkins'
Ferry State Park explain the
nature and location of the
fighting.
Battle of Jenkins' Ferry - Sheridan, Arkansas
Battle of Jenkins' Ferry - Sheridan, Arkansas
Battle of Jenkins' Ferry, Arkansas
A monument to the soldiers killed in the battle
stands at today's Jenkins' Ferry State Park.
Jenkins' Ferry State Park
Fought on April 30, 1864, the Battle of
Jenkins' Ferry was the last significant action
of the Arkansas phase of the Red River
Campaign.

The campaign was already a disaster for
Union forces by the time of the engagement
at Jenkins' Ferry. The badly battered and
hungry forces of General Frederick Steele
were limping their way back to Little Rock
when Confederate forces closed in behind
them. The battle that followed was a bloody
Union victory, but did nothing to change the
outcome of the campaign.

Steele had evacuated Camden, Arkansas, on
April 26, 1864, and three days later reached
the Saline River at Jenkins' Ferry. As the
engineers struggled to put a pontoon bridge
in place, however, heavy rains began to fall
and continued throughout the afternoon and
night. The road leading to the bridge turned
into a muddy morass and the swamp filled
with water.

Confederate troops arrived on the scene late
in the day and lobbed a few shells at the
Union supply wagons, but inflicted no
damage. As the Union soldiers settled down
for the night in the flooded swamps, the
Confederates began to arrive in force on the
ridges just to the south.

The Battle of Jenkins' Ferry began at daylight
on April 30, 1863. Soldiers remembered that
the entire battle was waged in from several
inches to several feet of water. The Federals
fought fiercely from behind improvised breast-
works of logs and fence rails, while the
Southern troops launched assault after
assault.

The attacks, however, were uncoordinated
and the Confederate forces of General E.
Kirby Smith were unable to break the Union
lines. Finally, after bloody fighting, Smith
ended the battle and the Federals hastily
completed their withdrawal and destroyed
their pontoon bridge behind them. Reported
losses in the battle were 86 killed and 356
wounded for the Confederates compared to
63 killed, 413 wounded and 45 missing for
the Union army.
The Battle of Jenkins' Ferry was the last
significant engagement of the Arkansas
phase of the Red River Campaign. Steele's
men trudged wearily back to Little Rock while
the Confederates prepared for new action
over the months to come.

The battle is commemorated at Jenkins'
Ferry State Park which preserves 67 acres
including the site of the pontoon bridge and
the ground on which the Federal forces
reorganized after the battle. The main battle
site is across the Saline River from the park.

Jenkins' Ferry State Park is located roughly
12 miles south of Sheridan on State Highway
46. The park is free to visit and
features a
monument, interpretive signs, picnic tables
and river access. It is open during daylight
hours.


Please click here to visit the official website.
Saline River in Arkansas
The river was overflowing its
banks at the time of the battle,
forcing soldiers to fight in
water and mud.
Battlefield from the Air
This is an aerial view of the
Jenkins' Ferry Battlefield as it
appears today. Please click
the photo to see an enlarged
version.
(U.S.G.S. Photo)
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Copyright 2011 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.


Last Updated: April 29, 2014
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