Saturday, March 14, 2015

Destruction of the Saltworks

Photo credit: DM Some rights reserved

From the 11th Michigan Cavalry

"A correspondent wrote:
Thinking that a detailed account of the late great raid of Generals Stoneman and Burbridge into East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia might not be uninteresting to your numerous readers, especially as a regiment of the 'Soldier Citizens' of Michigan participated in the fatigues, hardships and honors of the same to a conspicuous extent, I am persuaded to communicate the same to your columns in as brief space a possible, as the leading features. In the matter have doubtless been furnished you by the regular telegraphic dispatches some days in advance of this."

Photo credit: Left: DM, Left: Sisterbeer Some rights reserved,Right:


"At early day break Colonel Brown, at the head of his brigade, marched upon Saltville and found the place evacuated, the 'Johnnies' having left for the mountains during the night. At 8 o'clock all the troops had entered the town and commenced the work of destroying the salt works which the enemy have defended for the past four years with great energy, as it is the only place in the Confederacy where salt is obtained: consequently they were almost of inestimable value to the rebels. All day and night of the 21st, and until 2 o'clock PM of the 22d, the whole force was engaged in breaking kettles, burning buildings, sheds, etc., destroying wells, in fact. In the complete destruction of everything pertaining to the works. We destroyed over 2,000 kettles capable of manufacturing 25,000 bushels of salt per day when run to their full extent. We also destroyed three forts, two arsenals filled with ammunition, 13 cannon and caissons, five locomotives, and about 80 cars depot, and three store houses and other buildings belonging to the railroad. The salt wells, which were drilled through rock 280 feet deep and four in number, we destroyed by filling with solid shot and railroad iron. It will be impossible to remove these obstructions, and the rebs will have to drill new wells, to say nothing of getting kettles, building furnaces, etc., before they can have any more salt in Dixie."(Source: Michigan in the War Michigan. Adjutant-General's Department, John Robertson, 1882, pp. 733-734)

Photo credit: Left: DM, Right: Left: Sisterbeer Some rights reserved

All photos from Flickr Creative Commons
Saltville During the Civil War

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