A Union force under Colonel Powell Clayton left Pine Bluff, Arkansas March 27th 1864 planning to attack a Confederate force leaving Monticello at the time. The Union men consisted of the 18th Illinois, 28th Wisconsin, 1st Indiana Infantries, and the 5th Kansas, 7th Missouri Cavalries, with four howitzers and two cannon. This force of Union soldiers arrived in Mount Elba on the Saline River on the afternoon of March 28th 1864. They drove off some Confederate pickets in the area. Putting up a pontoon bridge they crossed the river. Clayton left the infantry to protect the bridge, and advanced with most of the cavalry south of Mount Elba.
The men left at the Saline River dug in on the north side. A scouting party sent out on the morning of March 30th 1864 toward Monticello returned to report a large party of Confederate cavalry headed their way. The Confederates under command of Brigadier General Thomas Dockery were held up by the 28th Wisconsin for two hours, giving the forces at the river time to prepare their defenses. With about 1,500 Confederate cavalry, Dockery was able to advance, driving the Wisconsin men before them. Shortly after Clayton returned and with his cavalry drove the Confederates out. The Union side lost 4 men killed or missing, the Confederates lost 135 men.