Reprise: Niter for gunpowder

Before his death in June, 1863, the novel’s Major Clayton Ellis already was planning to recover niter from bat guano in the caves around Knoxville.

His superiors in Nashville wanted it to make gunpowder for Confederate arms as the conventional sources of the propellant were increasingly being denied by the federal blockade.

Ellis was confident that the caves in the mountains around Knoxville had enough bats to keep the Confederacy supplied with niter, if need be, for a thousand years.

Indeed, such caves and their bats still were plentiful enough in the late 1950s to help Merlin Tuttle, the famed founder of Bat Conservation International, get his start on the subject when he was a teenager living in Knoxville.

About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
This entry was posted in "Knoxville 1863", Civil War armament, Parthenia Leila Ellis and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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