On October 2, 1864 during the American Civil War, the Battle of Saltville was fought here. In the battle Union forces attacked Saltville but were defeated by Confederate troops. Also, another, more minor battle was fought here, during Major General George Stoneman's Tennessee-Virginia Raid.
Saltville is located at 36°52'25" North, 81°45'39" West (36.873480, -81.760833)1.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 21.0 km² (8.1 mi²). 20.8 km² (8.1 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.49% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 2,204 people, 909 households, and 660 families residing in the town. The population density is 105.7/km² (273.7/mi²). There are 1,003 housing units at an average density of 48.1/km² (124.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the town is 98.96% White, 0.41% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.00% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 0.05% from other races, and 0.41% from two or more races. 0.45% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 909 households out of which 30.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.2% are married couples living together, 15.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 27.3% are non-families. 25.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 14.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.40 and the average family size is 2.88.
In the town the population is spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 23.9% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39 years. For every 100 females there are 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 85.1 males.
The median income for a household in the town is $29,917, and the median income for a family is $36,394. Males have a median income of $30,379 versus $17,717 for females. The per capita income for the town is $13,908. 17.4% of the population and 12.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 27.0% are under the age of 18 and 17.5% are 65 or older.