Many Thanks to Lou Ann Lunsford for being kind enough to share these newspaper articles with us here in Arkansas


Copied from a Special Edition of "THE MERRY GREEN PRESS"


Henry Atchley of this county visited our office and presented us with a piece of General Steele's pontoon bridge which was destroyed by the Federals after crossing the Saline River at Jenkins' Ferry. Our souvenir is a brass air nozzle, still with part of the rubber cloth attached.

The bridge, a type developed by George W. Cullum, Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, was first used in the Mexican War. The pontoons are mode of double India-rubber cloth and consist each of three tangent cylinders, peaked at both extremeties like the ends of a canoe, which are firmly united together by two strong India-rubber ligaments along their lines of contact, and widening into a connecting web towards the ends. The whole thus forms a single boat 20 feet long and 5 feet broad, of great bouyancy and stability. Each cylinder is 20 feet long, 20 inches in diameter, and is divided into three air-tight compartments, each of which has its own inflating nozzle. The middle compartment occupies the entire width of the roadway of the bridge, but the ends of it are placed sufficiently within the ends of the cross boards to be secure from injury except in rare cases. The end compartments are exposed, but if pierced can be quickly repaired by means of rubber patches.

Inflating bellows are used for inflation. The bridge, which can support 7,000 pounds, was moored by a light 45-pound anchor.

The bridge used at Jenkins' Ferry was determined to be over two years old and much the worse for wear. The 34 wagons used to transport the bridge would also slow the movement of the train, according to Captian Wheeler, Chief Engineer.

The bridge was then pulled to the bank where the pontoons were punctured with bayonets and thrown back into the river. The 34 wagons were also destroyed. Two companies of the 24th Missouri, detailed as pontoniers, rejoined the column.


An Iowa soldier writes that Steele's column experienced much difficulty crossing the swamp east of the Saline River. Federal soldiers, according to this source, were compelled to wait and linger near the enemy while the long train of wagons would stick in the mud and the mules would flounder in the mire. Although many wagons were destroyed, the train still stretched out two or three miles. Soldiers cut down all the nearby young pine trees, carried them to the deepest part of the mire, and so built corduroy across most of the swamp. When a wagon stuck, every endeavor was made to raise it. If all means failed, the mules were unhitched and the wagon broken or burned. The contents were thrown over the ground where many of the cartridges and powder kegs exploded.

The artillery horses were continually falling, while the limbers, caissons, and guns sank to the axles.

Article: CARR'S RIDE

We have learned that Federal Brigadier General Eugene A. Carr was ordered by General Steele to proceed in advance of the VII Corps after leaving Camden. Crossing the Saline River on the 28th at Jenkins' Ferry, Carr's Cavalry Division consisting of about 2,000 troopers proceeded toward Little Rock in defense of the city. His force crossed on the pontoon bridge set in place by Captain Wheeler's pioneers and fatigue parties.

Carr is said to have sent word back to Steele that the Camden Road in the bottom was very bad and that he had seen thousands of hoof marks there indicating that a large force had recently passed. This is now assumed to be marks made by General Fagan's force which had passed there earlier.

It is now reported that Carr's force clashed with Elliott's Missourians a few miles east of Pratt's Ferry at Whitten's Mill. Following this encounter the Federals destroyed many of their wagons before proceeding.

General Kimball, Federal Commander at Little Rock, said that Carr's cavalryment entered the city on May 1, about 5 a.m.


Recent dispatches indicate that while following Steele's column within twenty miles of Little Rock, Confederate Major Elliott was unable to cut off any stragglers and return to Pratt's Ferry by way of Benton. He reported passing the smoldering wreckage of ten wagons and the carcasses of sixty-five mules which had been destroyed to keep them from falling into enemy hands.

Grant County Museum in Sheridan, Arkansas printed in observance of the 125th Anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Jenkins' Ferry that was fought April 29-30th, 1864 in what was then Hot Springs and Saline County Territory...later incorporated into Grant County in 1869.

The above information may be used for non-commercial historical and genealogical purposes only and with the consent of the page owner may be copied for the same purposes so long as this notice remains a part of the copied material. EDWARD G. GERDES

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