(Photograph taken at Jenkins' Ferry State Park at the site of the Federal crossing with the Saline River in the background)
In the spring of 1864, following the failed Red River Campaign, two vast armies marched across southern Arkansas. The Federal Army, trying desperately to return 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 is army back to Little Rock if they were to survive. In hot pursuit of the Federals were thousands of Confederates under the command of General E. 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 escape was the rain swollen Saline River crossing at Jenkins' Ferry. The frustrated Federals were forced to construct a pontoon bridge across the raging river, enabling the Confederates to close the gap. The resulting Battle of Jenkins' Ferry, Arkansas was one of most most horrific Civil War battles west of the Mississippi River. In his first book, author Joe Walker takes you back to the spring of 1864 when war raged across the quiet landscape that was southern Arkansas.