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[425] found Generals Burbridge and McLean. I must here remark that had the rebels been permitted to reach the gap before us, the entire command would probably have been captured, generals and all. General Hobson personally superintended the crossing of the troops through the dangerous pass of Laurel Gap that night, and was the last man to leave.

During our retreat the troops suffered great privations, substituting paw-paws, wild grapes, &c., for rations. The enemy was skirmishing constantly with our rear, in which Lieutenant-Colonel Mason, of the Eleventh Michigan, was killed. General Hobson sent detachments forward to hold the road on both flanks, to prevent the enemy from getting in our front, and to him the entire command feels indebted for bringing them safely back to Mount Sterling.

Before closing, I may mention that a detachment of the First Kentucky cavalry and Third Kentucky mounted infantry, consisting of two hundred men, under Major Keene, were sent through Pound Gap, to make a diversion in our favor. They had a fight with Prentice at Gladesville, Virginia, and whipped him, scattering the rebels and capturing their cannon. I am unable to give any account of further movements of Generals Burbridge and McLean, as they were not with the troops at any time after the command was assumed by Hobson. But I have learned that they arrived safely in Cincinnati almost a week previous to the arrival of the troops in Mount Sterling. I have endeavored to be brief and just, and if any have not been mentioned, whose bravery deserved it, the neglect is unintentional, for all deserved great praise. Although I have been in several expeditions previous to this, I have not before fought under either of the three Generals of this expedition, and can, therefore, honestly disclaim any of that preference which too frequently leads to misrepresentations. Public comment alone can rectify the wrong wherever it may be.

A Southern account.

For the truth of history, it is proper that we should give the country the facts connected with the late battle fought at Saltville, on Sunday the second instant. We have the facts, given us by an intelligent and reliable friend, who was present and witnessed almost the entire engagement.

It was the purpose of the enemy, under Burbridge, to take the salt-works and then form a junction with Gillem, and destroy the lead and iron-works, and then by rapid movements, form a junction with Sheridan, at or near Lynchburg. The success of these plans would have told heavily on our cause and on our country; but, thanks to the skill and valor of our officers and men, these schemes, so cunningly devised, and so extensively planned, have failed; the enemy with a large force, has been whipped, and his disorganized and scattered ranks driven from our lines.

Colonel H. L. Giltner, of the Fourth Kentucky cavalry, met the enemy, and for three days and nights contested, with great energy, his advance; but his superior strength finally pressed the gallant Giltner and his men back on the salt-works. We had, by this time, collected a little less than seven hundred reserves, and a number of pieces of artillery. Colonel Trigg, of the Fifty-fourth Virginia, had volunteered his services, and was actively engaged in disposing of the forces, when Brigadier-General A. E. Jackson arrived.

The enemy were now in our front in full force, with eleven regiments and eight pieces of artillery. The contest seemed almost hopeless, yet surrender would have been disgraceful.

All the ammunition belonging to the six-pound guns, and much of that belonging to the small arms had been sent back the evening before, nine miles distant, to Glade Springs. It seemed almost madness to yield, and yet destruction to contend. This was early in the morning, before ten o'clock. Just then, Brigadier-General John S. Williams, with his magnificent division, composed of three brigades, arrived. A new feeling and spirit at once came over the face of affairs. He promptly assumed command of all the troops present, and made his dispositions. The First Kentucky, Colonel Griffith; Tenth Kentucky, Colonel Trimble; Fourth Kentucky, Colonel Giltner; two battalions of reserves, Brigadier-General Robertson's brigade, Colonel Debrill's brigade, and Colonel Breckinridge's Ninth Kentucky cavalry, constituted our line of battle, extending from left to right in the order in which they are mentioned. We had also a number of artillery, well posted in the redoubts, so as to command the enemy as he advanced. These were well served-all of them. The fight was severe along our whole line, but the severest and most destructive was on our right. Colonel Debrill's brigade mowed down the advancing hosts of the enemy with terrible slaughter. All our troops behaved most admirably. The reserves acted well their part, and deserve all praise; but the heaviest and severest portion of the fighting was done by General Williams' division, and by Giltner's brigade.

It is to Colonel Giltner, who held the enemy in check, and kept him back from the salt-works for a period so long, and to General Williams, who placed the troops and did the fighting on the day of the battle at Saltville, on the second instant, that the credit is due for saving the salt-works, and, incidentally, the country. It is to him, and the valor of the troops under him--Brigadier-General John S. Williams--that the credit of this glorious and important victory is due.

There was not a General present ranking him, or one who assumed the responsibility of that important engagement, until the last gun was fired. And yet, strange to say, from the published accounts, made by telegraph and others

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