Friday, February 29, 2008
Jenkins' Ferry, Part Two
Continuing our look at Jenkins' Ferry State Park and the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry, Arkansas, this is the Saline River as seen from the park. The actual battlefield is on the opposite side.
As you can see from the muddy color of the water, the river was on the rise when this photo was taken in late February (the area is quite a bit greener during the spring and summer). At the time of the Battle of Jenkins' Ferry in 1864, the river was also rising and had overflowed the surrounding swamps.
As the Union army of General Frederick Steele came down from the ridges into the Saline River Valley during their retreat from Camden, they instantly encountered difficulty due to muddy roads and overflowing swamps. They began building a pontoon bridge here at Jenkins' Ferry and were trying to get across when the Confederate army of General Kirby Smith closed on them from behind.
After heavy fighting in which three successive Confederate attacks were thrown back, the Union troops were finally able to get across the Saline and dismantle the bridge behind them. Smith's Confederates pushed up to the river bank opposite today's Jenkins' Ferry State Park, but were not able to get across. Steele's weary men marched through the park area and continued their retreat to Little Rock.
I'll have more on Jenkins' Ferry in the next post, but in the meantime you can read more about the park by going to www.exploresouthernhistory.com/jenkinsferry1.