American Civil War East Indian Connection The Civil War Gunpowder and Indian Saltpetre

in Published Volumes


Sandip Munshi1
PhD Research Scholar
Queen’s University (Canada)


Abstract:: : When the civil war broke out in the United States, both contending parties desperately needed gunpowder to support their war effort. To some degree, their success in the war partly depended on how efficiently they could supply gunpowder to their armies and navies. In the absence of adequate saltpeter or potassium nitrate (the main ingredient for making gunpowder) production in the US, the Confederate and Union armies faced this huge problem of producing gunpowder. After independence, the United States tried to develop its gunpowder industry, but it was still far away from being achieved because of the lack of saltpeter production. Before independence, the cheap and abundant East Indian saltpeter transported from England or India was enough for the North American colonies, which remained the same after their independence. During the civil war, the demand for East Indian saltpeter increased abruptly. The Confederate and Union governments were trying their best to get saltpeter from the East Indies to produce gunpowder for the war. This paper will look at the role Indian saltpeter played in the American civil war. The absence of sufficient saltpeter production in the United States and the supply of high-quality saltpeter from Bengal in East India unfolded interesting events and created surprising global connections during the civil war. This paper will look at the role Indian saltpeter played in the American civil war. It will examine how Indian saltpeter became another decisive factor for the contending parties to win the war.

Key Words:America, Bengal, Britain, India, Saltpetre