Thursday, December 05, 2013

October 27th, 1863.—We went to the salt works today and, though I am tired and dirty and have no good place to write, I am going to try to tell you about it.
A year ago salt began to get scarce but the people only had to economize in its use, but soon there was no salt and then Father got Cousin Joe Bradford to come down from Georgia and take charge of some salt works he was having installed on the coast. He had plenty of hands from the plantation but they had to have an intelligent head and then, too, it is a rather dangerous place to work, for the Yankee gunboats can get very near the coast and they may try shelling the works.
Though they have been in operation quite awhile this is my first visit. Father brought us with him and we will stay three days, so he can see just how they are getting on. We are to sleep in a tent, on a ticking filled with pine straw. It will be a novel experience.
I am so interested in seeing the salt made from the water. The great big sugar kettles are filled full of water and fires made beneath the kettles. They are a long time heating up and then they boil merrily. Ben and Tup and Sam keep the fires going, for they must not cool down the least little bit. A white foam comes at first and then the dirtiest scum you ever saw bubbles and dances over the surface, as the water boils away it seems to get thicker and thicker, at last only a wet mass of what looks like sand remains. This they spread on smooth oaken planks to dry. In bright weather the sun does the rest of the work of evaporation, but if the weather is bad fires are made just outside of a long, low shelter, where the planks are placed on blocks of wood. The shelter keeps off the rain and the fires give out heat enough to carry on the evaporation. The salt finished in fair weather is much whiter and nicer in every way than that dried in bad weather, but this dark salt is used to salt meat or to pickle pork. I think it is fine of Father to do all this. It is very troublesome and it takes nine men to do the work, besides Cousin Joe’s time; and Father does not get any pay whatever for the salt he makes.
We expected to have a grand time swimming and fishing. We are both good swimmers, but Father and Cousin Joe will not allow us to go outside of this little cove. Yankee gun-boats have been sighted once lately and there is no knowing when the salt works may be attacked.

Salt works Children playing along the Lake Powell beach in the early 1900s, often found old salt kettles and boilers that were remnants of the time when salt making flourished here during the Civil War. Those making salt produced it by boiling seawater into brine and drying it in the sun. Men turning out 20 bushels of salt per day were exempt from conscription into the Confederate army. Kent's Salt Works, which consisted of three different camps, was located off the old wagon road with Lake Powell known as Lake Ocala at that time. Those employed at the camps used six steamboat boilers cut in half lengthwise and seven huge kettles. These boilers and kettles turned out 130 bushels of salt per day. On Dec. 2, 1863, Union forces raided these camps, sledgehammered the equipment and tossed all the freshly made salt into the lake. They sank two large flatboats, demolished six oxcarts and took 17 workers as prisoners, but paroled them after they swore allegiance to the United States.

James Innerarity's election as first Mobile city commissioner and other War of 1812 material:

William Brownrigg's THE ART OF MAKING COMMON SALT (LONDON, 1748)

Includes Phillip Zaret's article about references to coffee and salt in Civil War manuscripts in the University of Michigan Library

History of Salt

U.S.S. Tritonia used to destroy salt works at SALT HOUSE POINT on Bon Secour Bay.

Earl Bowden article,2267940

Salt works- Brough

Harpers 1857 article about a salt works




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