Saline County held 6,640 people in 1860, including 749 slaves. Jabez M. Smith, the county's secession convention delegate, voted to leave the Union. The Saline Guards formed in 1861 and became Co. E, 1st Arkansas Infantry (C.S.). Their captain, James Fagan, ended the war a major general. As many as 1,300 Saline County men in 24 companies fought for the Confederacy; two companies of local men formed for Union service. The Union army occupied Benton in late 1863 and built fortifications, including one that was named after Col. Cyrus Bussey.
In 1864, David O. Dodd, whose grandparents David and Sarah Dodd lived on Military Road in Benton, was hanged as a spy in Little Rock. The Battle of Jenkins' Ferry, the last action of the Camden Expedition, was fought just past the southern border of Saline County April 29-30. Col. William Crawford of Benton led a Confederate cavalry unit and fought at Prairie D'Ane and Poison Spring, among others. A skirmish between Col. John Logan's Confederate troops and Union cavalry was fought at Hurricane Creek near modern-day Bryant on October 23, 1864.