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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/109

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How the South got Chemicals during the War.

ployed in place of tea. The joy of the first cup of coffee after the close of the war formed a delight that never can be forgotten. The necessity of preserving the cattle, and the employment of horses in the army as well as the demand by the soldiers for shoes, soon exhausted the leather supply. As a result leather became such a rarity that a good pair of boots at the close of the war was worth several hundred dollars in Confederate money. As a substitute, fibers were worked up and coated with a varnish, forming a sort of material similar to oilcloth, which came into use for many purposes. The employment of petroleum oil as an illuminant was at its beginning. Colza and other oils were similarly used at that time, but these soon disappeared, and the old-time candle dip prevailed. For purposes where an oil was absolutely essential, recourse was had to fish oil. Paper was very scarce, and there were but few, if any, mills in the South, and these produced a very inferior quality of paper, so that for writing purposes the blank leaves of old account books were employed, and for printing purposes wall paper, on which many newspapers of the time were printed, was largely used. Only the crudest kinds of ink were to be had, and in most cases they were made by adding water to the refuse in the ink bottle until the writing became so faint as to be scarcely visible.

The great coal deposits of Pennsylvania being no longer available for fuel, recourse was had to the bituminous beds of Virginia, although of course in many cases wood was all that was required. It goes without saying that the supply of paint rapidly disappeared. However, there were numerous deposits of ocher that were available, and crude varieties of paints were soon manufactured in sufficient quantities to supply the demand.

One of the important, indeed necessary, elements in the carrying on of a war is artillery, and to fight without gunpowder is practically impossible. Accordingly, gunpowder mills were established at several localities in the South. The supply of niter was soon exhausted, and search was made for that material in caves and elsewhere throughout the South. These yielded a certain amount, but the future was provided for by the establishment of niter beds. Still, the end came too soon to permit of their being available. There were no sulphur deposits in the South, but fortunately at the beginning of the war there was a large supply of that article in New Orleans, where it had been used in the clarification of sugar. Charcoal was of course more