The first Reconstruction Legislature from territory taken from Hot Spring, Jefferson and Saline counties formed Grant County on February 4, 1869. It was named for Ulysses S. Grant who had been elected President of the United States in November 1868. The county seat is Sheridan. Grant County is a large, rural county of rolling, pine-covered hills. The pine-covered cutover land is a sanctuary for many bird species. The Saline River winds through Grant County and into the Quachita River in southern Arkansas.
The Paleo Indians, the Archaic, and the Mound Builders inhabited Grant County for some time.The Caddo and the Quapaw may have hunted the area. Displaced Cherokee and Choctaw owned land here in the early 1800s.
The Red River Campaign
The Battle of Jenkins' Ferry was fought April 30, 1864, in Grant County, Arkansas as part of the Camden Expedition of the American Civil War. Union Major General Fred Steele's forces retreated from Camden after being mauled at Marks Mills and Poison Spring. On the afternoon of April 29, the Union forces reached Jenkins Ferry and began crossing the Saline River, which was swollen by heavy rain. Rebel forces arrived on the 30th and attacked repeatedly. 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 Saline. The Confederates bungled a good chance to destroy Steele's army, which after crossing the river, regrouped at Little Rock. Both armies paid dearly for the carnage of Jenkins' Ferry. The Confederates reported 86 men killed, 356 wounded, and one missing for a total of 443 casualties. The numbers would doubtless have been much higher, perhaps 800 to 1,000, if Walker's Texas division's losses were known. Walker filed no report on the battle. Union casualties were reported as 63 killed, 413 wounded, and 45 missing, a total of 521 casualties. Again, the Union total is incomplete, as Gen. John Thayer filed no report. The Battle of Jenkins' Ferry was a Union victory, because the Federals successfully held back the attacking Confederates and allowed their wagons time to cross the Saline. Kirby Smith's last, best hope to destroy Steele's army was dashed as a result of the badly mismanaged and disjointed attacks, in which the Confederate infantry was pushed in piecemeal instead of in a concentrated attack. The Confederates failed to capitalize on the Union's vulnerable left flank, choosing instead to pursue frontal assaults across Kelly's field, where the Southern line was devastated by Union fire. Steele gave up all thoughts of uniting with Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Banks on the Red River and realized that he had to save his army.