Lead: In the fall of 1861, Lammot du Pont left on a secret mission. Federal stocks of saltpeter, used in making gunpowder, were running dangerously low.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: By the summer of 1861, both Federal and Confederate leaders realized that the war was going to be a protracted conflict. Alarm began to fixate the planners in the War Department in Washington. Federal stocks of potassium nitrate, known as saltpeter, a substance essential to the manufacture of gunpowder, were evaporating. India, controlled by Great Britain, was the primary source of American supplies of saltpeter. Because the South provided many of the raw materials used in British factories, economic ties between Britain and the Confederacy were unusually strong.