Off to Saltville



Without a Country – Our story continues at the home of Will and Suzanne.  They were running out of salt and couldn’t get salt through the Watauga County distribution system.  Will was a Unionist who didn’t believe in the Confederate cause and deserted the Confederacy.  He and a number of other Unionists scouted out in the mountains, living in the shadows.  Will was always at risk when he came out of the woods and went to his cabin. 

By the summer of 1863, North Carolina established a Home Guard system to round up deserters and protect the citizens of the county from bushwackers.  The Watauga County Home Guard, under the leadership of Major Harvey Bingham, patrolled the county with great efficiency.  His men had a simple policy – they gave one warning, then opened fire. 

Without salt, the family would slowly starve.  And, Will couldn’t do a thing about it. 

It was up to Suzanne and she was up to the challenge.




Suzanne felt her best option was to go to Saltville, Virginia, to get salt.  Nobody up there would know her or her husband.  Saltville was the largest inland salt production facility in the Confederacy.  It was a mere 70 mile hike, crossing rivers, climbing up through the mountains and passing through dense forests.  The trip was not without risks – like bears and panthers.  But, she was a mountain woman.  She had no expectation for an easy life.

The trip also posed another challenge – Thomas’s Legion, a Confederate Cherokee unit.  The Legion had killed many a Union soldier and they roamed through the mountains along the North Carolina – Tennessee border.  Union men feared running into a patrol from the Legion.  Suzanne was part Cherokee and would have no problem should she encounter the Legion. 

So, she hatched a plan – she would recruit her sister Catherine Lusk and sister-in-law Eveline Clark Lusk to go with her.  Eveline was her husband’s sister…  Suzanne and Eveline were as close as twins.  The three women would make the trip together while Grandma Lusk watched the “young-uns”.  The three women were young, strong and determined.  They needed salt!

Stay tuned for the conclusion…



2 thoughts on “Off to Saltville

  1. Thank you for the kind words. I feel very inadequate to tell these stories but I am determined to bring them to life. They are true and I am afraid my words are weak compared to the strength of these women. This film is based on many years of accumulating oral history in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Some of the stories are truly amazing. I am working to create a film that tells the story of these strong women and men during the Civil War years. They were the invisible people – the southerners who believed in the Union cause. Their lives were not worth much during those times. Death was a frequent visitor.

    Anyway, my short stories and photos allow those who are involved to see the work as it progresses and get to know some of the story. I appreciate your encouragement.

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