the advance guard. By felling trees the rebels had completely blockaded the road over the mountain. This was naturally a very strong position. Several hundred rebels, under the command of Giltner, having taken possession of, and secreted themselves on the side of the mountain, poured a galling fire into the head of the column. The Thirtieth, Forty-fifth and Fortieth Kentucky were by General Hobson dismounted immediately, and ordered to drive the rebels from their position. The Fortieth Kentucky was sent to the left to co-operate with the Forty-fifth and Thirtieth Kentucky, who were on the right. After stubborn fighting the rebels yielded their position, with the loss of several killed and wounded. Two Federals were killed, and about ten or twelve wounded, among whom was Captain Adams, Forty-fifth Kentucky. All the officers and troops behaved with great gallantry. The column proceeded to Laurel Gap, where they again encountered the rebels. This also was a formidable position, and had it been held with tenacity, it would have been almost impossible to dislodge the enemy. By the masterly handling of his troops General Hobson compelled the enemy to fall back. The Fortieth and Thirteenth Kentucky, under command of Colonel True, were enabled, by their position, to do most of the fighting, and pouring a galling fire into the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Morrison, Colonel Alexander, Colonel True, Colonel Starling and Captain Page displayed great courage, as did the entire command. Any rash movement upon the part of Hobson. at this place would certainly have brought heavy loss to his men. The troops encamped a little beyond this point, about six miles from the salt-works. The march was resumed the following morning, the Third brigade having the advance, when we arrived within two miles of the salt-works, when the skirmishing commenced, and there was constant fighting from this point to the works. Colonel Hanson and all his troops acted with marked courage, and finally drove the rebels to their lines near the salt-works. Here the troops were arranged to deliver battle, the various regiments holding the following positions: The Third brigade on the right, the First brigade the centre, and Fourth brigade the left. Our lines thus formed a semicircle. The fight was opened on the left by Colonel Ratcliffe, early in the day. Terrific fighting occurred. The action soon became general along our entire line. Our attack developed, in less than thirty minutes, the fact, that in addition to the strongest natural fortifications, the rebel position had been strengthened by the most formidable earthworks, erected with skill and mounted with rifled guns of heavy calibre and long range. It was also quickly discovered that they had received heavy reinforcements, as their long lines of infantry and cavalry, which were held in reserve, were plainly in view. The position assigned Colonel Hanson and his men exposed them to a withering and deadly fire from both artillery and musketry, thereby rendering useless all their efforts to accomplish the end intended. The position that Hanson was expected to carry was a heavy fort, protected on its left by an extensive rifle-pit, situated on the top of a cliff not less than one hundred and fifty feet high, in order to reach which he would have been compelled to ford a river from ten to fifteen feet deep, and ascend the cliff, which was almost perpendicular. The gallant Hanson could not execute impossibilities, and has probably lost his life in attempting to lead his men where it would have been certain destruction to them. Colonel Hanson was supported by Colonel True, with the Fortieth Kentucky mounted infantry, and Forty-fifth Kentucky mounted infantry, until Hanson fell, when True was ordered to take command of Hanson's brigade, and held the position until the troops were ordered to withdraw. I may here mention that at one time Colonel Ratcliffe's brigade (Fourth) drove the enemy into the town of Saltville, and held a position nearer the salt-works than any other portion of the command. Lieutenant-Colonel Bentley distinguished himself greatly, commanding the Twelfth Ohio volunteer cavalry. About one o'clock the Thirtieth Kentucky mounted infantry and Thirteenth Kentucky cavalry were ordered by Hobson to cross the river at a point opposite the centre of our line, and carry the rebel centre, which they did, with unflinching bravery, under fearful fire from rebel batteries, killing and wounding a number of rebels. Here we also lost heavily in officers and men, but our men not only held their position, but drove the enemy to their works. Supporting this move, a detachment of the Eleventh Kentucky cavalry of seventy-five men, under Lieutenant-Colonel Grier, made a dashing charge. At this critical moment, Lieutenant Wallace, Fortieth Kentucky, was ordered to bring up his howitzer battery for the purpose of shelling the rebel lines, the reports from which sounded like pop-guns, when compared with the thunder of the rebel artillery. Of course all these movements occupied time, and about four o'clock General Hobson was ordered by the commanding general to assume command of all the troops, and withdraw them from the field, our ammunition being exhausted, the men without rations, and exposed to almost certain capture. When the facts became known to the troops that the command had been turned over to Hobson, there were outbursts of joy and many demonstrations of confidence; and during our entire subsequent march he was received by the troops with cheers and shouts as he moved backward and forward, looking after their safety and interests. General Hobson ordered fires to be built along the lines, and as soon as it was dark he withdrew his army in order and without confusion. He immediately sent forward two regiments to take possession of, and hold Laurel Gap, to prevent a flank movement by the rebels. The army marched this night eighteen miles, arriving at Berran's the following morning, where we
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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