26th Kentucky Infantry Regiment, page 3.
The Struggle for Saltville, Virginia
The Regiment under command of Captain Page moved with the division, under General Burbridge, to the salt works at Saltville, Virginia. They traveled over a wild and rugged country occupied almost entirely by guerrillas. They traveled night and day with scanty rations.
By September 30 the division was within 15-20 miles from the salt works when they met a strong Confederate force. Bitter fighting occurred and the Confederates were driven off. The 26th was on the field as reserve, but the enemy withdrew before they got into action. On October 1, Confederates delayed their march through Laurel Gap for four hours in the surrounding cliffs. They camped that night six miles from their objective. On October 2, the attack of the federal expedition was repulsed. The Regiment moved in the morning with the division, the fight was hot and heavy.
The Regiment was held as reserve until late in the evening to protect the rear of the division. Three companies of the Regiment climbed the mountain and exchanged a few shots with the Rebels. The Regiment covered the retreat. It was later said in Bowling Green, "…Hines made a lucky escape, for those Green river boys of the 26th shoot both right and left-handed, and cross-eyed."
One company commander wrote: "From the day we left Pikeville until our return to the point it was a continual fight. On Sunday, October 3d, a beautiful day, General Burbridge attacked the works, and all that day was the battle. At night the 26th was left to build fires along the line of battle to hold the enemy in check while the division moved off the field and took up the retreat to Kentucky. The movement had been so loudly talked about that the enemy was aware of our coming, and were entrenched and outnumbered us."
Federal forces would not destroy the salt works until December 2 by another force. The defeated Kentucky division withdrew, reaching Lexington on the 15th. On October 29, they were ordered to Paducah, Kentucky. They moved to Bowling Green in November
On December 4, the Regiment was ordered to Nashville and complaint was made that Bowling Green would be left without protection. At the time Confederates under General John Bell Hood faced General Thomas at Nashville. On the 7th the Regiment was placed in the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 23rd Corps at Nashville. On December 15 and 16, the Regiment was engaged in the Battle of Nashville, moving with the 23rd Corps, under General Schofield, on the flank of Hood’s army. The Regiment participated in the general charge on Hood’s lines, which broke up and destroyed that army. After the Battle of Nashville, the Regiment marched with the 23rd Corps through Franklin and Columbia to Clifton on the Tennessee River. There they took transports and proceeded down the river to the Ohio River at Cincinnati, where they boarded a train for Washington, DC, arriving January 1, 1865.
They went to North Carolina
The Regiment with the brigade in which it served was in quarters at Camp Stoneman in the District of Columbia until February 12, when it moved across the river to Alexandria, Virginia for five days. From Washington they took a steamer and were transported to the mouth of Cape Fear River in North Carolina
The Union forces had taken Fort Fisher in January, but there were strong defenses between that point and Wilmington, twenty miles up the river.
The Regiment with its Corp was transported down the coast to Smithville. They landed and marched through the pine forest to the rear of Wilmington. On the way the Regiment fought severely at Fort Anderson and Town Creek, and was the first Regiment to enter Wilmington on February 22. From Wilmington the Regiment moved by way of Kinston to Goldsboro, uniting with General William T. Sherman, who had just marched through Georgia in his famous "March to the Sea." They all then march toward Raleigh.
In the month of March, William Hampton was promoted to 7th corporal. On March 21, 1865, Thomas Ward was discharged from the 26th Regiment in order to accept a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 125th Colored U.S. Infantry Regiment by Special Order No. 291 of the War Department, Adjutant General's Office. William was now alone in the Regiment.
It was on that march toward Raleigh that they learned of General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia on Sunday, April 9, 1865. "Pandemonium broke loose, hats in the air, guns in the woods, bands playing, old veterans crying for joy; and soon drew up in line, the men heard the words of old Sherman: ‘A little more toil, a little more labor, and we will march home.’"
After the Regiment arrived at Raleigh, Confederate General Johnston surrendered in North Carolina. The Regiment was sent to Salisbury and encamped there until July when ordered to Kentucky where, on July 10, 1865 at Louisville, Corporal William Hampton and the 26th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry Regiment were mustered out of Federal service.
William H. Hampton ca 1850-60, and Ft. Smith, AR National Cemetery