Arkansas Red River Campaign Scenic Highway and Scenic Byway Steering Committee "Scenic Highway" designated by Arkansas Legislative Act 292 of 2019. "Scenic Byway" designation pending approval by the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
March 23, 1864. Maj. Gen. Frederick Steele left Little Rock at the head of 8,500 Union troops to link with a larger Union Force at Shreveport, Louisiana, with plans to invade cotton-rich eastern Texas. Around 4,500 men of Brig. Gen. John M. Thayer's Frontier Division left Ft. Smith to join Steele's forces in Arkadelphia by April 1.
March 25-April 1, 1864. Steele’s column having marched through Benton crossed the Saline River without difficulty and moved on to Rockport in Hot Spring County. Travelling on the Military Road with occasional skirmishes with Confederates, Steele reached Rockport on March 27. Using his pontoon bridge, he crossed the Ouachita River and continued on the Military Road through Hot Spring County to Clark County and Arkadelphia, having planned to meet Thayer’s force from Fort Smith by April 1.
April 3, 1864. Steele's advance troops crossed the Little Missouri River at Elkins' Ferry.
April 4, 1864. Maj. Gen. John Sappington Marmaduke attacked the Union forces at Elkins' Ferry but failed to drive them back across the Little Missouri and fell back to Prairie D'Ane.
April 5-9, 1864. Steele's army rested on the high ground above the Little Missouri to await the arrival of Thayer's Frontier Division before they marched forward onto Prairie D'Ane.
April 10-12, 1864. The Union and Confederate armies skirmished at Prairie D'Ane before Maj. Gen. Sterling Price surmised that Steele's goal was to capture the Confederate state capital at Washington. The Confederate Army abandoned fortifications on the prairie and fell back toward Washington. Steele, fearing that the Union army in Louisiana was defeated and in retreat, and, with his own men almost out of food, abandoned the drive south, turning instead toward Camden in the hope of finding supplies.
The Confederate commanders at Prairie D’Ane, not realizing that General Steele’s real objective was Shreveport, feared the Union Army planned to go to Washington and blocked the Camden to Washington Road.
March 30, 1864. Action at Mount Elba. This action happened shortly after troops left Little Rock. It would be about 25 days later before the Union troops conducting the Campaign would be in Cleveland County.
April 26-29, 1864. Having decided to retreat to Little Rock via Jenkins' Ferry while he still had an army to save, Steele abandoned Camden. The Confederate cavalry pursued him, catching up with his force on the Old Camden Road at Guesses Creek. After skirmishing, the Federals moved on toward the Saline Bottoms in a driving rainstorm.
April 30, 1864. Confederate troops, including infantry divisions just arrived from Louisiana, attacked Steele's rearguard as the army crossed the flooded Saline River at Jenkins' Ferry. The Federals held off the attackers and Steele got his army across the river, destroying his pontoon bridge behind him.
May 1-3, 1864. The defeated Union army slogs through the muddy Saline bottoms toward Benton, finally arriving in Little Rock on May 3. Union casualties were 2,750, while Confederate losses were around 2,300. Federal troops would pursue no further large-scale offensive operations in Arkansas for the rest of the war.