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During the Civil War, Gatlinburg was occupied by Confederate forces under Major William H. Thomas. He organized a regiment of guerrillas, Indians, and whites totaling about two hundred men called the Thomas Legion. He promised the local men that if they joined his unit, they would not be called on to fight. They would only be used for road building and for mining work at Alum Cave. Food was being conscripted from the local people by the occupying forces; so this was good news to the hungry men. Alum Cave was a source for saltpeter, which was used to make gun powder and minerals which could be used to make Epson Salts. Both commodities were badly needed by the Confederate forces. Thomas made arrangements with the Confederate authorities to issue rations of flour and other food to the starving locals. Boys, too young to fight, were sent from Gatlinburg to Jefferson City by horseback or on foot to bring back the provisions. These rations did not contain soda or salt. It is said that salt cost a dollar a pound, and that men had to go by horseback to North Carolina to obtain the precious condiment. The occupation of Gatlinburg by Confederate forces lasted about two years. Thomas toward the end of the war told the local men that they would be required to fight. The Gatlinburg men became angry that Thomas had broken his promise to them; so they deserted.