Tennessee Saltpeter Caves and Works

As the United States raced toward a war with the rebellious southern states, Tennessee began preparing for its role in the conflict.  Tennessee played a strategic role in the Confederacy, because of both its geographic location and its vast resources.  Chief among these were the large saltpeter and gunpowder industries already underway in the state.  Since the pioneer days, East and Middle Tennessee had been known for their capacity to produce both.  Tennessee was ready to use all its resources to back the Southern cause, and saltpeter, being a major component of gunpowder, was quickly devoted to the cause.

The following table lists Tennessee saltpeter caves and works, along with their known locations.

Cave or Works
M. C. Dibrell & Co. Caves White County
Knox County Caves Knox County
Monroe County Caves Monroe County
Nicojack Cave Marion County
Chattanooga [Lookout] Cave Hamilton County
Big Bone Cave Van Buren County
Rice's Mill
Marion County Cave Marion County
Kingston Saltpeter Cave Roane County
Smith Cave
Mil Sick Knobs Cave Monroe County
Nelson Cave Monroe County
Cave Hill White County
White River Caves Shelby County
Hickman County Saltpeter Company Hickman County
Warren County Saltpeter Company Warren County
Campbell County Saltpeter Works Campbell County
Saltpeter Works (Name unknown) Hamilton County

For further information on saltpeter caves and works in Tennessee see the saltpeter bibliography.

(Thanks to Nathan Kinser, assistant to the Reseach Coordinator, for the saltpeter research used on this page.)

  Return to Civil War Technology & Industry in Tennessee

Last update:  May 5, 2000