The Battle of Marion (December 17–18, 1864) was a military engagement fought between units of the Union Army and the Confederate Army during the American Civil War near the town of Marion, Virginia. The battle was part of Union Maj. Gen. George Stoneman's attack upon southwest Virginia, aimed at destroying Confederate industrial infrastructure near Saltville and Marion. Union Cavalry and Infantry regiments—some 4,500 soldiers in total—left Tennessee on December 17 for southwestern Virginia.
Through two days of fighting, a Confederate force under the command of John C. Breckinridge—totalling 1,200–1,500 infantry and cavalry—was successful in holding defensive positions in and around the town of Marion. On the first day, successive Union attacks were defeated by a well-coordinated Confederate defenses near a covered bridge outside of Marion. By the end of the second day, dwindling ammunition supplies forced Confederate forces to withdraw from the area. With casualties for both sides approaching 300, Union forces proceeded to destroy the salt mines, lead works, and other beneficial Confederate infrastructure in Marion and Saltville.
By 1864, the American Civil War was slowly drawing to a close. With Abraham Lincoln reelected as President of the Union, and Gen. Ulysses Grant made commander of the Union Army, the possibility of a Confederate victory was steadily lessened. Along the Eastern Seaboard, Union forces pushed the Confederate forces of Gen. Robert E. Lee steadily back in successive Union victories at Wilderness and Spotsylvania. In the Appalachian mountains, Phillip Sheridan had defeated Confederate armies in the Shenandoah valley. As Union forces pushed southward, they destroyed significant portions of the Confederate agriculture base. As Union forces defeated Confederate armies in the northern reaches of the CSA, Gen. William T. Sherman began his march to the sea, which would eventually succeed in destroying 20% of the agricultural pr...