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One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War occurred over a two day period, April 29-30, 1864 in Grant County-- The Battle of Jenkins' Ferry. The Union Army was led by Major General Fredrick Steele. The Confederate Army was under the command of General E. Kirby Smith.
General Steele and 5000 Union troops were attempting to get back to Little Rock while retreating from Camden, Arkansas after having been mauled at Mark's Mill and Poison Springs. On the afternoon of April 29 Union forces reached Jenkins' Ferry on the Saline River. This location is about 15 miles from the present day location of the Grant County Museum. When General Steele and his men reached the Saline River they saw it was flooded. The Union forces at this time employed a large inflatable pontoon bridge that was placed over the swift river allowing them to cross over. In addition to approximately 5000 men, General Steele had hundreds of wagons, mules, horses and supplies to have to get across the bridge before being attacked by the Confederate forces. Fighting broke out as they attempted the crossing and became very fierce the following day, April 30. Although the battle waged back and forth, late on the 30th General Steel and the last of his men crossed over the bridge and then cut it into pieces sending it down the river and preventing the Confederate forces from following them.
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