McMinnville in Warren County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
Soon, Henshaw Cave was producing saltpeter for the Confederacy.
To make saltpeter, workers in the cave leached nitrates from the soil using water from the cave (also rich in nitrates), then poured the resulting solution into 80-gallon cast-iron crucibles outside the cave. Lye, made by leaching water through oak and hickory charcoal or ashes, was added to the crucibles. Wood fires built under the crucibles boiled down the liquid and produced the correct type of saltpeter crystals need for gunpowder. The saltpeter made here and at other nearby caverns was then transported to Nashville until the Federals occupied the city in 1862, when it was taken to other mills.
As with other rare raw materials, saltpeter’s price rose sharply with increased demand. In 1864, near the end of the war, the price had risen from $.25 to $1.50 a pound.
Postwar explorations in the
Erected by Tennessee Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tennessee Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 35° 39.967′ N, 85° 41′ W. Marker is in McMinnville, Tennessee, in Warren County. Marker is on Cumberland Caverns Road 0.7 miles north of Ballard Drive, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1437 Cumberland Caverns Road, McMinnville TN 37110, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Higgenbotham's Cave (approx. 1.6 miles away); Kentucky-Alabama Road (approx. 3.6 miles away); The Birthing Tree (approx. 4 miles away); Forrest's Bivouac (approx. 4.7 miles away); Anthia Brady Hughes (approx. 4.9 miles away); Carl T. Rowan Charles Faulkner Bryan (approx. 5.1 miles away); Uncle Dave Macon (approx. 5.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in McMinnville.
Also see . . . Cumberland Caverns. (Submitted on October 10, 2013.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 10, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 383 times since then and 36 times this year. Last updated on May 7, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 10, 2013, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.