previous next

‘ [77] or more of pig metal. We had erected lead and copper smelting furnaces [at Petersburg, before referred to] with a capacity sufficient for all our wants, and had succeeded in smelting zinc of good quality at the same place.’ The Chemical Works were placed at Charlotte, N. C., where a pretty large leaden chamber for sulphuric acid was put up. Our chief supply of chemicals continued to come, however, from abroad, through the blockade, and these works, as well as our nitraries, were as much preparation against the day when the blockade might seal all foreign supply, as for present use. These constituted our reserves, for final conflict.

We had not omitted to have a pretty thorough, though general exploration of the mountain regions from Virginia to Alabama, with the hope of finding new deposits of lead. One of the earliest of these searches was made by Dr. Maupin, of the University of Virginia. No favorable results came from it. I remember an anecdote he told touching one of his researches. An old settler showed the Doctor a small lump of lead which he had extracted from ore like some he had in his possession. There was the lead and here was the ore, but it was not an ore of lead. The Doctor cross-examined: ‘Did he smelt it himself!’ ‘Yes.’ ‘What in?’ ‘An iron ladle,’ such as is used for running lead balls. ‘Was there nothing in the ladle but this sort of ore?’ ‘No, nothing.’ ‘Nothing at all? No addition—no flux?’ ‘No, nothing but a little handful of common shot, thrown in to make it melt more easy!’

Much of the nitre region was close to the lines of the enemy, and here and there along its great extent became debatable ground. Not seldom the whole working force had to be suddenly withdrawn on the approach of the enemy, the ‘plant’ hurried off, to be again returned and work resumed when the enemy had retired. Much of the work, too, lay in ‘Union’ districts, where our cause was unpopular and where obstacles of all kinds had to be encountered and overcome. It was no holiday duty, this nitre digging, although the service was a good deal decried by such as knew nothing of its nature.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Charlotte (North Carolina, United States) (2)
Alabama (Alabama, United States) (2)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Maupin (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: