In December 1864, Stoneman’s Raid into Southwest Virginia was an effort to cripple the northern portion of the Confederacy. The raid went from Bean Station, Tennessee, all the way in to Saltville, Virginia. There were three raids in the whole campaign, one into Kentucky, and another into western North Carolina.
Engagements on the raid into Southwestern Virginia were held on the North Fork of the Holston at Rotherwood, and in Virginia, Abingdon, Glade Springs, and Marion. The purpose was to plunder and destroy as much as possible, in case the Confederacy might find some use for it. General Sherman authorized the surge of forces. Anne Phipps, in her court paperwork, mentioned that soldiers had plundered Rotherwood.
Colonel Richard Morgan was given command of Basil Duke’s brigade after his brother, General John Hunt Morgan, was assassinated in Tennessee. The group was around 350 soldiers. The men were camped out on the North Fork of the Holston, unaware that Stoneman approached with a troop of 5,000 soldiers. A fight began immediately and, by the end, the Union troops had seized all wagons and had taken over 80 prisoners, including Col. Morgan. Sixteen of the Confederates were either dead or wounded.
Many historic texts mention that around 500 Confederate soldiers were missing by the time Stoneman reached Marion. Unfortunately, this remains unknown. It is highly unlikely that a group of 500 men could all elude a force of 5,000. Perhaps the men died in a remote part of the countryside, or perhaps there’s a mass grave somewhere between Bean Station and Saltville. History does not clarify.