Tuesday, December 03, 2013

An Albatross Around the Neck of the Union: The Confederate Salt Makers of St. Andrews Bay

The St. Andrews Bay area's Civil War claim to fame is that the largest salt works in Florida were located here around Lake Powell at Phillips Inlet, West Bay, North Bay, Callaway Bayou and California Bayou in East Bay. These salt factories were owned by individuals and the Confederate government in Richmond as well as the Confederate governments of Alabama, Georgia 
and Florida. At many times during the three years from 1862 to 1865 as many as 2500 men along with 4000 wagons were involved in producing and transporting St. Andrews Bay salt. This immense industry did not exist before 1862 and it ceased to exist after 1865 as soon as normal channels of commerce were established after the war ended. 

A hungry Confederacy demanded salt and after Lincoln's naval blockading Anaconda Plan began, there was no salt to be had. No salt for food preservation. No salt for tanning leather. No salt for horses, mules and livestock. Prices for salt soared to one dollar a pound but in most cases no amount of Confederate money could buy salt but salt was essential to life so St. Andrews Bay became the site of an extremely lucrative enterprise during an extremely critical time.

There was never enough salt. In the present day, genealogists probe the salt rationing lists issued at Alabama, Georgia and Florida court houses. These lists tell us which individuals were judged to be worthy enough to be given the privilege of being allowed to buy salt during this most violent and extended drama in our history.

Most everyone in Florida started off the year 1861 with the attitude of "The Rights of The South At All Hazard!" but it didn't take long for little personal problems like death and suffering to override politics and by autumn of 1862, war weariness had already settled over the Confederacy.


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