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Northern Civil War Industry-- Tredegar Iron Works

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From Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tredegar_Iron_Works

Alexander Gardner - 1865 - Tredegar (Detail of iron works).jpg

Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia, U.S., photograph by Alexander Gardner


Tredegar Iron Works is located in Virginia


Richmond, Virginia




Davis, Reev; et al.

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Richmond, Virginia

       The Tredegar Iron Works was a historic iron works in Richmond, the capital of the U.S. state of Virginia. Opened in 1837, by 1860 it was the third-largest iron manufacturer in the United States. During the American Civil War, the works served as the primary iron and artillery production facility of the Confederate States of America. The iron works avoided destruction during the Evacuation Fire of 1865, and continued production through the middle of the 20th century.

Founding (18361841)

 Joseph Reid Anderson in Confederate officer's uniform     

 In 1836, a group of Richmond businessmen and industrialists lead by Francis B. Deane, Jr. set about to capitalize on the growing railroad boom in the United States. The group hired Rhys Davies, then a young engineer, to construct a new facility, brought a number of his fellow iron workers from Tredegar, Wales, to construct the furnaces and rolling mills. The foundry was named in honor of the town of Tredegar, where iron works of the same name were constructed in the early 19th century. The new works opened in 1837, yet the Panic of 1837 and accompanying downturn resulted in hardship for the new company. Davies died in Richmond in September 1838 from stab wounds sustained in a fight with a workman and was buried on Belle Isle in the James River.

Trunnion from a bronze cannon stamped "J R A & CO, T F" (J.R. Anderson & Company, Tredegar Foundry) made at the Tredegar Iron Works

In 1841, the owners turned management over to a 28-year-old civil engineer named Joseph Reid Anderson who proved to be an able manager. Anderson acquired ownership of the foundry in 1848, after two years of leasing the works, and was soon doing work for the United States government. Anderson began introducing slave labor to cut production costs. By the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, half of the 900 workers were slaves, including many in skilled positions. By 1860, Anderson's father-in-law Dr. Robert Archer had joined the business and Tredegar became a leading iron producer in the country.

       The commissioning of 900 miles of railroad track in Virginia, largely financed by the Virginia Board of Public Works between 1846 and 1853, offered a further market in steam locomotives and rail stock. One of those attributed with starting the Tredegar Locomotive Works with John Souther was Zerah Colburn, the well-known locomotive engineer and journalist. The company produced about 70 steam locomotives between 1850 and 1860. From 1852 to 1854, John Souther also managed the locomotive shop at Tredegar. Its locomotive production work is sometimes listed with combinations of the names Anderson, Souther, Delaney, and Pickering. Tredegar also produced the steam propulsion plants for the USS Roanoke (1855) and the USS Colorado (1856).

       Prior to the Civil War, industry expanded at the Tredegar site under Anderson's direction to include a new flour mill on land leased to Lewis D. Crenshaw and a stove works on land leased to A.J. Bowers and Asa Snyder. By 1860, Crenshaw and Co. had established the Crenshaw Woolen Mill on adjoining land they owned. This enterprise employed more than 50 people. The Crenshaw Woolen Mill became "the principal source of supply for the [Confederate] Army's requirements of uniform material" during the first half of the Civil War. A May 16, 1863 fire on the Tredegar/Crenshaw site damaged the mill, which was not rebuilt, and Tredegar purchased the land from Crenshaw and Co. by 1863.

       By 1860, the Tredegar Iron Works was the largest of its kind in the South, a fact that played a significant role in the decision to relocate the capital of the Confederacy from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond in May 1861. Tredegar supplied high-quality munitions to the Confederacy during the war.

       Its wartime production included the iron plating for the first Confederate ironclad warship, the CSS Virginia which fought in the historic Battle of Hampton Roads in March 1862; credit for approximately 1,100 artillery pieces during the war, about half of the South's total domestic production of artillery between the war years of 18611865, including the development of the Brooke rifle; a giant rail-mounted siege cannon. The company also manufactured railroad steam locomotives in the same period.

        As a result of his difficulties competing with Northern industries due to his higher labor and raw material costs Anderson was a strong supporter of southern secession and became a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army as the war broke out. He was wounded at Glendale during the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsula Campaign in 1862 and served in the Ordnance Department for the duration of the Civil War.

        As the war continued with more and more men conscripted into the Confederate armies, Tredegar experienced a lack of skilled laborers. Scarce supplies of metal also hurt the company's manufacturing abilities during the war and as the conflict progressed it was noticed that Tredegar's products were beginning to lose quality as well as quantity. Even in the summer of 1861, soon after the beginning of the Civil War, the initial quantity of metal was so scarce that the iron works failed to produce a single piece of artillery for an entire month.

        During the evacuation of Richmond by the Confederates on the night of April 23, 1865, the retreating troops were under orders to burn many of the munitions dumps and industrial warehouses that would have been valuable to the North. Anderson reportedly paid over 50 armed guards to protect the facility from arsonists. As a result, the Tredegar Iron Works is one of few Civil War-era buildings that survived the burning of Richmond.

Tredegar Ironworks and associated facilities, as it appeared shortly after the fall of Richmond in 1865 (Present-day surviving structures italicized)

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