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  #1  
Old 18 Sep 17, 12:04
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did the Confederacy suffer from a lack of salt?

Saw this PBS documentary about the Erie Canal and they claimed that since Syracuse NY provided the overwhelming bulk of the nation's salt in the mid-19th century, that the Confederacy suffered from want of salt during the Civil War, and that this shortage may have ultimately contributed to her defeat.

Quote:
During the Civil War, salt production in Syracuse "secured the North's salt supply." At the same time, Northern forces were in control of salt mines in Virginia and Pennsylvania, which meant southerners could not buy salt at any price. The salt shortage is believed to be one of the reasons the South lost the war. Salt produced on the reservation was considered so critical during the Civil War that the salt workers were exempted from both jury duty and military conscription in the mid-1860s.

Wikipedia
When I was a kid I visited Syracuse's salt mines, but I never gave any thought to how Syracuse's salt effected the rest of the country, especially the South. Exactly how severe was the South's salt shortage?
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  #2  
Old 18 Sep 17, 12:48
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Florida produced salt in large quantities for the Confederacy, presumably by sea water evaporation. Federal armies made two attempts to takeout the salt works so crucial were they. I suspect a bigger problem than production was distribution as the railway network degraded in the course of the war.
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Old 18 Sep 17, 13:11
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^ I would think that salt production by evaporation is not only time consuming, but also real estate intensive: long stretches or shallow pans exposed to the subtropical sun. Go to your local supermarket, where sea salt sells for a god deal more than mined salt. Additionally such a facility would be vulnerable to assault, as its perimeter would be long. A mine would strike me as easier to defend, as it would likely have but one entrance. If the Confederacy were using the Florida shoreline to produce salt through evaporation, then I'd think that reveals the desperate nature of their salt situation. That's my two cents at any rate.
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Old 18 Sep 17, 13:40
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Salt was ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by slick_miester View Post
^ I would think that salt production by evaporation is not only time consuming, but also real estate intensive: long stretches or shallow pans exposed to the subtropical sun. Go to your local supermarket, where sea salt sells for a god deal more than mined salt. Additionally such a facility would be vulnerable to assault, as its perimeter would be long. A mine would strike me as easier to defend, as it would likely have but one entrance. If the Confederacy were using the Florida shoreline to produce salt through evaporation, then I'd think that reveals the desperate nature of their salt situation. That's my two cents at any rate.
... available to the CSA from Saltville VA for most of the war, which was the south's most important producer, as was Avery Is. LA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saltville,_Virginia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_i...ican_Civil_War

One of the problems associated with the salt producing areas of the day is that they also attracted malarial mosquitoes, which prefer brackish waters for reproduction. As such, African slaves were important to these areas, as some had a demonstrable immunity to malarial diseases, usually at the expense of the genetic mutation causing of sickle cell anemia.
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Old 18 Sep 17, 15:36
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It turns out that Florida was producing salt by distillation and its relatively large coastline with many bays and inlets made it eminently suitable for this. See the following extracts from Men, Salt, Cattle and Battle" the Civil War In Florida (November 1860 -July 1865) William J. Gladwins Jr. Coriander, USN Naval War College 1992'

Quote:
It was during this time that Florida began to erect many salt distillation works on the inlets and bays along its coast for the processing of salt water to salt at the bays of St.Andrews, St. Josephs, and Tampa, and the St. Marks and St. Marys Rivers.
Quote:
The first Union attack on a salt works occurred October 4,1862 at Depot Key with landing parties from the U.S.S. Somerset,Lieutenant Commander Earl English, USN, and the U.S.S. Tahoma, Commander John C. Howell, USN.
Quote:
The distillation of salt from sea water became a major industry in Florida during the Civil War. For salt, at this time,was among the most critical "strategic materials" in the Confederate war effort. Large quantities were needed to preservemeat, fish, butter, and other perishable foods, as well as for medicine and curing hides. As such, the Florida salt works were a constant target for fast-hitting Union boat expeditions aimed at drying up the source of intended supplies for the Confederate armies
Quote:
The first Confederate salt works attacked in Florida occurred September 8, 1862, when a landing party from the U.S.S. Kingfisher destroyed the works at St. Josephs Bay, reporting it produced approximately 200 bushels a day. Confederate officials in Florida placed so much importance on the salt works, that by January 9,1863, W. Fisher, First Lieutenant of Organized Salt-makers,reported that all salt-makers, 498 men, on the Florida coast between the St. Marks and Suwannee Rivers "were enrolled and organized into companies, with rules of discipline and appointed places of rendezvous in case of attack." The last salt works destroyed was on February 14, 1865, by a boat expedition from the U.S.S. Midnight at St. Andrews Bay. Overall there were fourteen salt raids conducted by the Union navy in Florida from September 1862 to February 1865.
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Old 18 Sep 17, 16:34
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Great stuff, mate. Tried to rep you but you were deemed undeserving or some such.

Here's the interesting bit:

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Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
Quote:
. . . . Overall there were fourteen salt raids conducted by the Union navy in Florida from September 1862 to February 1865.
So the US Navy would wait three or four months, then attack one of those Florida sea salt farms, then return to do it all over again in three or four months, right after the Rebs had finished rebuilding their salt works. And since the CSA hadn't much of a navy to speak of anyway, these were operations that the USN could execute virtually at will. Givens salt's importance in the warm Southern climate, and to armies throughout history, I've got to believe that these raids went from nuisance to strategic thorn in the side pretty quick.

At the time, wasn't Florida among the US' leading cattle states? Without salt, that beef couldn't do much good for the CSA forces in the field, not to mention the Confederacy's civilian population.
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Old 18 Sep 17, 16:53
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Originally Posted by slick_miester View Post
Great stuff, mate. Tried to rep you but you were deemed undeserving or some such.

Here's the interesting bit:



So the US Navy would wait three or four months, then attack one of those Florida sea salt farms, then return to do it all over again in three or four months, right after the Rebs had finished rebuilding their salt works. And since the CSA hadn't much of a navy to speak of anyway, these were operations that the USN could execute virtually at will. Givens salt's importance in the warm Southern climate, and to armies throughout history, I've got to believe that these raids went from nuisance to strategic thorn in the side pretty quick.

At the time, wasn't Florida among the US' leading cattle states? Without salt, that beef couldn't do much good for the CSA forces in the field, not to mention the Confederacy's civilian population.
Any naval raid against a prepared coast line is very risky for the raiders. I get the impression that you already have a particular answer in mind and aren't really interested in any contrary evidence.
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Old 18 Sep 17, 16:55
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Originally Posted by Marmat View Post
... available to the CSA from Saltville VA for most of the war, which was the south's most important producer, as was Avery Is. LA.
Avery Island lies atop a "salt dome." Wonder why the Rebs didn't figure that out, or did the technology simply not exist at the time?

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One of the problems associated with the salt producing areas of the day is that they also attracted malarial mosquitoes, which prefer brackish waters for reproduction. As such, African slaves were important to these areas, as some had a demonstrable immunity to malarial diseases, usually at the expense of the genetic mutation causing of sickle cell anemia.
Mother Nature's sure got a sense of humor. "Okay, okay, I can keep you from contracting a deadly disease -- but only if I can give you another one that'll off you before you're thirty." Isn't Mother Nature a real sweetie?
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Old 18 Sep 17, 17:00
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Originally Posted by slick_miester View Post
Avery Island lies atop a "salt dome." Wonder why the Rebs didn't figure that out, or did the technology simply not exist at the time?



Mother Nature's sure got a sense of humor. "Okay, okay, I can keep you from contracting a deadly disease -- but only if I can give you another one that'll off you before you're thirty." Isn't Mother Nature a real sweetie?
Nature is only interested in you reaching your peak of reproductive activity after which you are of no real value in the evolutionary story. About 30 used to be the peak after which you were probably too slow to evade the predators.
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Old 18 Sep 17, 21:38
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Avery Island lies atop a "salt dome." Wonder why the Rebs didn't figure that out, or did the technology simply not exist at the time?



Mother Nature's sure got a sense of humor. "Okay, okay, I can keep you from contracting a deadly disease -- but only if I can give you another one that'll off you before you're thirty." Isn't Mother Nature a real sweetie?
What kind of Hot Sauce do you use? Avery Island is home of the famous McIlhenny Tobasco factory. The McIlhenny's bought it because the sauce needs a lot of salt. The first Banks expedition through the Sugar Cane region of South Louisiana went right past the salt works. They destroyed the works on the surface. The Salt Dome is close enough to the surface for it to have shafts dug down into it. General Richard Taylor tried to evacuate as much salt as he could. I can't say if the mine was reopened during the war.

The bottles of the hot sauce are that size and shape because all they could find to bottle it were perfume bottles! It has become iconic like the Coca Cola bottle shape.

There is an amusement park and gift shop there today. I took my two (at the time) Grandsons there with plans of touring the factory, the gift shop and the amusement rides. PawPaw made the mistake of doing the gift shop before the amusement rides and I spent all my extra money on T-shirts and Sauce! Grandson # 2 was sitting in the backseat drinking Habenero Sauce straight from the bottles of his sample pack. He didn't get it from me! I recommend it as a family visit, but don't go unto the gift shop unless you bring LOTS of money!

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Old 18 Sep 17, 21:41
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There were salt works along the Texas coast as well. The trick was getting it to the market. There were no rails along the Gulf Coast then. When the price of salt got high enough people found ways to get some. There are lots of Salt Springs in the South and several rivers and bayous named the Salt or Saline.

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Old 18 Sep 17, 22:28
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The principle salt states of the South were Virginia, Kentucky, Florida and Texas. In 1858, the entire salt production of the South was 2,365,000 bushels while New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania produced 12,000,000 bushels. The United States, primarily the South, was largely dependent on salt imports, most of which came in at New Orleans. The Union blockade and the early capture of New Orleans had a huge impact on the Confederate war efforts. Their food logistics simply could not do without salt, and there was a lack of salt for disinfecting wounds.

By 1860, the US had become a huge consumer of the world's salt production and spent more per capita on salt than any European nation. At the outbreak of war, a 200 pound sack of Liverpool salt cost $0.50 in New Orleans. By 1863, that same sack cost $25 in Savannah.

Why did Sherman undertake his Savannah Campaign(Sherman's March to the Sea)?

Salt is eminently contraband, because of its use in curing meats, without which armies cannot be subsisted - William Tecumseh Sherman, August 1962
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Old 19 Sep 17, 12:47
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South and south central Alabama also contributed much salt to the Confederacy.

Salt as a Factor in the Confederacy. By ELLA LONN, Ph. D., Professor of History, Goucher College. (New York, Published by the author, 1933.
"Only if it be lacking could one realize the im- portance-the necessity, of salt; and almost every page of this volume shows how continually and how greatly this lack was felt by the people of the Confederacy and especially by those in authority- those in authority, for the work is based largely on official records of every kind, both of the general and the state governments. Throughout also can be seen the continuous and at times extraordinary efforts made by the people and the different govern- ments to secure salt; too, that salt was the reason for many naval and military expeditions; and also, that its scarcity was one of the numerous contributing causes of the downfall of the Confederacy. The nearly one hundred pages of references, notes, and bibliography indicate the wide range and thoroughness of the author's research."

“The Florida Historical Society Quarterly.”*The Florida Historical Society Quarterly, vol. 13, no. 2, 1934, pp. 112–113.*
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Old 19 Sep 17, 14:06
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They were sea salt works on the North Carolina coast and the US Navy would raid them as well.
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Old 20 Sep 17, 10:47
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Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
I get the impression that you already have a particular answer in mind and aren't really interested in any contrary evidence.
Not at all. In fact, this is an issue to which I never gave any thought until I saw it mentioned the other night in that Erie Canal documentary. What I'm thinking now, however, is that Florida in the 1860s would have been difficult to fortify due to difficult terrain, meager rail service, a general state of underdevelopment, and the CSA's paltry naval assets. Florida has some four or five hundred miles of coastline, along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico -- all of it vulnerable to enemy naval operations, and the CSA didn't have much of a navy to begin with. It can't have been too hard for the USN to disrupt salt production down there from time to time: some gunfire here, a quick raid there, and just like that salt production would have to be halted for weeks, if not months. And given the limited rail service down there, getting that salt to where it was needed was no easy feat either. It's only now that I'm appreciating what a terrible vulnerability salt production was to the Confederacy. Makes their solders' performance even more remarkable: like as not they were hungry all the time.
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