150 years ago today, 5,000 Union soldiers marched toward Saltville, Virginia, aiming to destroy the key saltworks at that town. Under the command of Major General Stephen Burbridge, the forces were made up mostly of Kentucky Mounted Infantry, plus a regiment each of Ohio and Michigan Cavalry, and the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry.
On the heights north and northeast of town, the Federals ran into 3,000 Confederate defenders, who received reinforcements throughout the battle. Burbridge launched repeated attacks against the Confederate positions, but failed to break their line in heavy fighting. The overall Southern commander, Major General John C. Breckinridge, arrived on the field late in the day, and directed the final defense as dusk settled over the battlefield. Burbridge retreated that night, leaving his wounded behind under flag of truce. Continue reading