Battle at Cedar Branch

Battle at Cedar Branch (HM163U)

Location: Saltville, VA 24370 Smyth County
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 53.349', W 81° 44.97'

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Salt Works Defended

You are standing on the Confederate battle line that stretched for more than two miles along the bluffs on this side of the North Fork of the Holston River. The Cedar Branch Creek flows into the Holston River near the ford on the North Road to Saltville. The highway bridge in front of you crosses the original ford.

On Sunday, October 2, 1864, Union Gen. Stephen G. Burbridge arrived behind the hills in front of you with more than 5,000 troops from Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan, including several hundred African-American soldiers of the 5th and 6th Colored Cavalry. The Union objective was to destroy the town's salt works. Many of the more than 2,000 Confederates were Kentuckians, facing opponents from their home state.

Around noon, Union Gen. Edward Hobson attacked the river ford. To avoid Confederate cannon and rifle fire, Hobson charged in three columns. One column charged down Sanders Hill, one down the Holston River and the third from the base of Little Mountain across Broady Bottom.

After wading across the ford, the Union troops fought their way to the top of Cemetery Hill, pushing the Confederates toward the back of the hill into the Elizabeth Cemetery. Reserves were ordered forward to reinforce the Confederate line. After 15 minutes of close combat, often within 50 yards, the Union troops were forced back across the river. Confederate Col. Edwin Trimble was killed in the cemetery while directing the fire of his men.

By 5 p.m., firing along the battle line had ceased, except for sporadic Confederate artillery fire. Federal losses - killed, wounded and captured - were approximately 290. Confederate losses were approximately 160.

During the night, Burbridge's command began a hasty retreat toward Kentucky, leaving his dead and many of his wounded, including African-American troops. The next morning, some of these wounded and captured troops were murdered in what has been called the "Saltville Massacre."
HM NumberHM163U
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 12th, 2014 at 1:47pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 433215 N 4082837
Decimal Degrees36.88915000, -81.74950000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 53.349', W 81° 44.97'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 53' 20.94" N, 81° 44' 58.20" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)276
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 104 Buckeye St, Saltville VA 24370, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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