Fortunately, two scholars realize that resources were the lifeline of the war, and in
particular, salt was a major factor in how the Confederates lost the Civil War.
Salt in general, as described by Ella Lonn, was necessary for life as well as weapons.
gives us a reason why it seemed like the North dominated the war, and it was simply because the
North had salt (Lonn 13).
First, salt is needed for a person’s health.
For example, she says, “An
inadequate amount of salt in the ration means the absence of hydrochloric acid in the gastric to
further digestion, and a lack of sodium chloride in the blood” (Lonn 13).
During the war, salt
was necessary to be healthy and successful on the battlefield.
For example, “A hoof and tongue
disease which appeared among the cavalry horses of General Lee’s army in 1862 was attributed
to the lack of salt or to the use of new corn” (Lonn 13).
Now that we know what the salt was
used for, we need to know what happened with the South.
Geography might be the answer as to why the Southerners lost the war.
There seemed to
be much more salt in the North than in the South, or maybe it was because the North was more
For example, Ella says, “In 1858, Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, and Texas yielded
2,365,000 bushels as compared with 12,000,000 bushels derived from New York, and
Pennsylvannia” (Lonn 31-32).
The advantage was clearly the North, since they had almost 6
times as much bushels as the South.
Another reason why the South lacked the simple
commodity was because of “heartless extortion, inadequate transportation, and the blockade”
Ella makes a final point by saying, “The fact that salt could become a major problem
to the confederacy reveals strikingly the industrial backwardness of the south” (Lonn 230).
Since salt was so rare for the Confederacy, the Union knew where to find it.
the next scholar, describes how the Union attacked Saltville, Virginia.
He says of the day before
the battle, “Tomorrow, men would fight and die to determine whether North or South would