Whiteside Mountain’s Civil War Soldier’s Cave
Soldiers who left the Confederate Army to return home were called deserters or “Outliers” because they had to “lie out” from their homes to avoid detection. If caught by the Confederate Home Guard, they could be executed for their desertion or, more often, escorted back to the Confederate front lines to continue fighting. Some Confederate husbands and sons learned by mail or from friends that their loved ones back home were starving, so they abandoned the Southern cause to care for their families. Women, children, and old men faced great difficulty farming during the war. It was a difficult time, and the amount of food harvested from crops in the mountains was meager. Outliers would often live in caves in the higher mountains, sleeping during the day and coming down to their homes after dark to eat and help their loved ones in whatever way they could.
Up Whiteside Mountain, but hidden from casual sight, is a cave called “Soldier’s Cave.” It was a common hiding spot for the Confederate deserters. On private property in the Highlands Falls Country Club, it is forty-two feet wide by twenty-three feet deep with ceilings that reach seven feet high.