Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith led troops from Louisiana on a forced march to attack Gen. Frederick Steele's Union army as it crossed the Saline River to retreat to Little Rock. He arrived here on April 29, 1864, and established his headquarters to plan his attack on Steele's army and wagon train the next day. As many as 20,000 men, many having just fought Union Gen. Nathaniel Banks's army at Mansfield, La., marched through here in pursuit of Steele. The battle of Jenkins' Ferry would be fought April 30 along Cox's Creek southwest of the Saline.
Confederate Flank Attack
On April 30, 1864, Confederate Gen. Thomas Dockery's Arkansas brigade marched across Cox's Creek north of here to attempt a flank attack on Union soldiers defending Gen. Frederick Steele's army as it crossed the swollen Saline River on a pontoon bridge. Seeing the threat to their right, men of the 43rd Indiana and 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry waded across the flooded creek to confront Dockery's Arkansas troops. The opponents battled for around 90 minutes in the heavily wooded area before the Confederates were told to fall back to rejoin the main force.