Mississippi--State Salt Works



Salt was a vital commodity to nineteenth century Americans for its use in preserving food, especially meat, and for processing animal hides. When the Civil War broke out, Mississippi had no salt mines or salt producing company within its borders. It had relied upon salt imports from Europe or northern states. By the end of 1862, Mississippi citizens were running low on their salt reserves. The state government sent agents to Alabama, Louisiana, and Virginia—known to have their own salt works—to purchase large quantities of the substance. Only the agent sent to Louisiana was successful, returning to Mississippi with twenty tons. This amount only offered a slight reprieve to Mississippians, and the governor continued to pursue reliable options for acquiring or producing salt. The governor tried to work with foreign agents who offered to run the federal blockade in the Gulf of Mexico. The state government ultimately spent $20,000 and fifty bales of cotton for this effort, but received no salt in return. The governor also worked with some local companies in Mississippi and Alabama to produce salt locally. None of these projects provided a reliable source of salt, and some were a complete bust.

In late 1863, the Mississippi government abandoned efforts to work with contractors for salt and placed $500,000 into a domestic manufacturing project. The plan involved appointing a general agent to select one or two manufacturers of salt, and then overseeing the distribution of the product to each county in the state. The agent and manufacturers were each required to give a $60,000 bond to better secure the state’s interests. This plan, along with rough refining efforts by many Mississippi communities, provided a low level of salt provisions to the state through the rest of the war. (Wikipedia; James Wilford Garner, “The State Government of Mississippi During the Civil War,” Political Science Quarterly, 293–295)

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_in_the_American_Civil_War

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