How Gunpowder was made in 1863

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Gabob, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. Gabob

    Gabob Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    This appeared in the Selma Alabama Morning Times in 1863

    Jonathon Haralsen, afterwards the Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was Colonel of the 3rd Alabama Regiment in 1863 at Selma Ala. He was instructed to establish a Niter factory there and make gunpowder, ship via Atlanta, Ga to the troops falling back from Missionary Ridge. After he had gotten all things in readiness, he put a notice in the Selma Morning Times, which read as follows:


    The undersigned, having established a niter factory in Selma, requests the ladies of the city to retain all chamber lye that may accumulate around the premises. Barrels will be sent around the streets daily to collect it.


    This was a rather odd advertisment to appear in a newspaper and it created a sensation among the citizens of the town. There was a young man in Selma at this time studying law whose name was T.B. Wetmore. He read this notice with considerable amusement and wrote a reply to it which appeared in the next issue of the paper , reading as follows:

    To Jon. J. Haralson Colonel of Third Alabama

    Jon Haralson, Jon Haralson
    You are a funny creature
    You've given to this cruel war
    a new and curious feature
    you've let us know while every man
    is bound to be a fighter
    The women, bless their dear good souls,
    you've put to making NITER;

    Jon Haralson, Jon Haralson
    where did you get the notion
    to send your barrels round the streets
    to gather up this lotion
    We thought the women had enough
    of sewing shirts and kissing
    but you have put the lovely dears
    to Patriotic P_____g

    Jon Haralson, Jon Haralson
    Can't you invent a neater
    and better method for our folks
    to make up your saltpeter
    The thing it is so very odd
    gunpowder like and cranky
    that when a lady lifts her skirt
    she shoots a horrid Yankee

    When this appeared in the morning paper there was a greater sensation than ever. It was the talk of the town. Colonel Haralson was equal to the emergency and came back in the next issue as follows:

    Mr T. B. Wetmore, an impertinent young sprig of the Law Sir:

    The women, bless their dear good souls, are every one for war,
    to soldier boys they'd give their shoes and stockings by the score
    they'd give their jewels all away, and petticoats galore,
    They'll have saltpeter or they'll shout, in honest praise WETMORE!

    Women will stoop to conquer, and keep their virtue pure,
    It is no harm to kill a beast with chamber lye I'm sure
    But powder we are bound to have and this they've sworn before
    That if the needful thing is scarce, they'll PRESS IT AND WETMORE!

    There was a pretty little widow from Boston, visiting relatives in Selma and she could not get thru the lines to return home. She was a red hot Yankee and expressed her sentiments at all times, yet everybody loved her because of her fine qualities. She read these squibs in the paper and decided she must have her fling at the Colonel, so her effort appeared in the next morning issue like this:

    Jon Haralson, Jon Haralson
    we've read in song and story
    where women's tears
    thru all the years
    have sprinked fields of glory.
    but n,er before has it been told
    where midst such scenes of slaughter
    Your Southern beauties dried their tears
    and went to making water

    No wonder Jon your boys are brave
    who would not be a fighter
    if every time he fired his gun
    he used his sweetheart's niter
    and vice versa
    what could make a Yankee soldier sadder
    than dodging bullets fired from a
    pretty woman's bladder
  2. 358 winchester

    358 winchester *TFF Admin Staff*

    Apr 25, 2004
    Pensacola Fl. area
    That story sounds a little pissy to me :D

  3. 45nut

    45nut Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    That was funny :D
  4. pinecone70

    pinecone70 Active Member

    Jul 30, 2008
    Minnesota Gal!
  5. artabr

    artabr New Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    New Iberia, Louisiana
  6. Archie

    Archie Active Member

    Mar 6, 2005
    Hastings, Nebraska; the Heartland!
    Could be worse. One of the conquistadors had his troops dangled down the interior wall of a volcano to scrape up sulfer, another needed ingredient for black powder. (That whizzing in the jar thing just doesn't seem so bad.) Still, one must use what one has, right?

    But even then, black powder was on the way out as a primary propellant. Gun cotton was more or less perfected in 1846, and the process to colloid it and form it into what we recognize as 'smokeless' was discovered in 1884. Then, in 1887, Alfred Nobel developed what became 'Cordite'.
  7. Road America

    Road America Member

    Jan 27, 2009
    GaBob - Thanks for posting this - it's great! It's funny and also a little sad. I guess it shows that people back then could keep their sense of humor even in tough situations.
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