Union General George Stoneman put together a force to move against the saltworks located at Saltville, Virginia. Stoneman defeated a Confederate unit on December 18th 1864 at Marion, Virginia, and then began his advance.
The town of Saltville, Virginia was held by Confederate General John C Breckinridge with about 500 men. They were waiting on an additional brigade of General Basil W Duke’s cavalry. Two Union columns moved into the town and despite heavy skirmishing quickly overwhelmed the Confederate defenses. When Breckinridge ordered a retreat, Stoneman’s men moved into town and demolished the saltworks, which was the purpose of the raid.