In the spring of 1864, two vast armies snaked their way across the piney forest of southern Arkansas. The Blue Army, 13,000 strong, was moving rapidly northward, having abandoned their plan to join up with the a planned invasion of Texas. The Blue Army was starving and desperately trying to reach the safety of Little Rock. In hot pursuit was the Grey Army, 8,500 strong, who were marching hard - their objective to overtake and destroy the Blue Army. For almost a month, these two armies would fight a series of battles culminating in an epic struggle along the Saline River in present day Grant County. The Battle of Jenkins' Ferry would be one of the largest civil war battles in the Trans-Mississippi Theater with over 2,000 soldiers killed or wounded. It was one of the deadliest days in Arkansas history.
In the spring of 1864 following the failed Red River Campaign, two vast armies marched across Southern Arkansas. The Federal Army, trying desperately to get back to the safety of Little Rock, having marched toward Louisiana in support of the Union’s failed invasion of Texas was running out of food and supplies. Union General Frederick Steele knew he had to get his army back to the safety of Little Rock if they were to survive. In hot pursuit of the Federals were thousands of Confederates under command of General Edmund Kirby Smith. Their mission: destroy the Union Army at all cost. As both armies marched north toward Little Rock, the rain that had plagued the march early on had returned with a vengeance, turning the Federal retreat into a mud march. Standing in the way of the Federal retreat was the rain swollen Saline River crossing at Jenkins’ Ferry. The resulting Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry was one of the largest and certainly one of the most vicarious in Arkansas Civil War history. Harvest of Death: the Battle of Jenkins ’ Ferry, Arkansas is the first major work dedicated to the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry in fifty years. Author Joe Walker tells the story of two armies and their epic clash alongside the Saline River. Through the use of previously unpublished photographs and stories, Walker brings the battle to life as never before. Through the use of a previously unpublished map of the battle, drawn by a Confederate Engineer shortly after the battle, The Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry, Arkansas was one of the most violent Civil War battles in our history with accusations of atrocities committed by both sides. It will make you rethink the history of Civil War Arkansas.