Houston CWRT: Ed Bearss on Camden and Jenkins Ferry
The Camden Expedition
and Battle of Jenkin’s Ferry, Arkansas
Considered a part of the overall Red River Campaign in the spring of 1864, with the invasion of Texas by Union forces as one of the key objectives, the Arkansas portion of the campaign also is known as the Camden Expedition. It became a failed attempt by Union troops in Arkansas to converge on Shreveport and link up with General Banks’ forces advancing northward through Louisiana and then toward Texas. Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele’s Union forces retreated from Camden after being mauled in fierce engagements at Poison Spring and Marks’ Mills. On the afternoon of April 29, 1864 the Union troops reached Jenkins’ Ferry to begin crossing the Saline River, which was swollen by heavy rain. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith’s Confederate army caught Steele’s men and launched a succession of Confederate attacks on April 30. Many of the soldiers (including Texans) had fought at the battle of Mansfield, Louisiana only 22 days earlier. The Federals repulsed the attacks and finally crossed with all their men and supply wagons, many of which they were compelled to abandon in the swamp north of the Saline. The Confederates missed the opportunity to destroy Steele’s army, which after crossing the river, regrouped to the north at Little Rock. Their failure at the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry cost the Confederates any chance they may have had to capture the Union army or retake Little Rock.
Edwin C. Bearss authored the in-depth book documenting Steele’s part of the ill-fated Red River Campaign (Steele’s Retreat from Camden & The Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry). Ed Bearss will speak about the events and impact of this expedition and its final battle on the Trans-Mississippi theater and Texas.
Reservations required for both dinner ($30) and lecture only ($10)E-Mail Reservation is Preferred; Email Don Zuckero at drzuckero-at-sbcglobal.net, or call (281) four seven nine-one two three two by 5 p.m. Monday, January 16.
Photo by David Grubbs, Billings Gazette.