Kentucky Cavaliers in Dixie: The Reminiscences of a Confederate Cavalryman

By Geo. Dallas Mosgrove | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXVII.
THE BATTLE OR SALTVILLE (Continued)--DEATH OF COLONEL TRIMBLE--DEFEAT OF THE FEDERALS.

SALTVILLE was a natural fortress, a number of hills and ridges in concentric circles surrounding it. The enemy, apparently four thousand strong, mounted and dismounted, advanced upon our established lines and were received by a blazing line of fire from right to left. The roar and reverberations of our artillery among the gorges and fastnesses of the mountains were awe-inspiring and grand beyond description. The roar of one cannon sounded like a full battery of columbiads. The prolonged echoes were likely to inspire the delusion that a hundred hills were crowned with artillery of every caliber--howitzers, Napoleon twelve-pounders, parrotts, siege-guns, etc.

Between the hours of 11 and 12 A. M. the enemy made a grand demonstration, displaying more foolhardiness than generalship. Formed in three lines they charged the advanced reserves at Saunders', "old men and young boys," as Burbridge had contemptuously called them. Between those "old men and boys," not more than four hundred strong, and about two thousand Federals a surprisingly terrific conflict ensued. The "old men and little boys," in an exposed and unsupported position, stubbornly contested every inch of ground, much of the fighting being hand to hand. Their bravery surprised our veterans and the Federals alike. Our soldiers, accustomed to guy them, had expected them to retire precipitately at the first fire. They held their position until the enemy in overwhelming force entered the yard and surrounded the house. Their loss was severe; the more so as they had to fall back under a galling fire down a steep hill and up Chestnut Ridge. Thirty or more of them were killed, the usual proportion were wounded and as many more captured. Afterward, when passing over this part of the battlefield, my emotions were sad and sor-

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