Revolving Page

The Revolving Page will be just that. It will be a page that will be updated with some regularity, in which various articles, primary documents, or images can be presented. Currently, some history on the Confederate States Armory at Richmond, Virginia is presented. Your comments are welcome.


Confederate States Armory at Richmond, Virginia


"City Intelligence - The State Armory," from Richmond Enquirer, Friday, October 11, 1861.

This valuable establishment, which, from its importance to the cause of Southern Independence, may, with more propriety, be termed a national than a State institution, is situated at the foot of 7th street, upon the bank of the James river, from whence it draws its abundant supply of water, for the propelling of the machinery required in the manufacture of small arms. The building itself had for many years been used for the receptacle than for the manufacture of arms, until shortly after the "John Brown raid," when the attention of the people of the State, having been thus called to the threatening aspect of Yankee radicalism and to the wisdom of being prepared for any emergency, the Legislature, in deference to the popular will, appropriated a large sum of money for the establishment of a Virginia State Armory, and shortly afterwards a Board of Commissioners, to whom was entrusted the duty of carrying out the purposes of the Legislature, contracted with the proprietors of the Tredegar works in this city to provide the establishment with all the requisite machinery, tools &c., for the manufacture of 5,000 rifle muskets a year, at a cost of $156,590. Before, however, the Messrs. Anderson & Co. could enter fully upon their contract, the National difficulties had culminated in the disruption of the Union, and the enforcement, by the mobs of the North, of a practical embargo upon the exportation of their manufactures to the South. Under these circumstances, little, if any doubt can be entertained, that but for the timely acquisition of the works at Harper's Ferry, very much of the delay and of difficulty would have been before the South could have supplied herself with the required machinery, even for the repairing of disabled muskets, &c. Providence, however, appeared to exert itself upon the side of the patriots, and the same controlling power which subsequently supplied us with necessary cannon from Gosport Navy Yard, and with powder to render them effective from Fort Norfolk, also secured to us, despite the vindictive spirit of our enemies, the invaluable works of the national armory, at Harper's Ferry. Machinery of the best description, worth in the aggregate upwards of two hundred thousand dollars, and which, under the most favorable circumstances, of ordinary methods of supply, could only have been furnished us after years of delay.

With the abandonment of Harper's Ferry by the Yankees, and the seemingly providential rescue of its costly machinery from the destruction to which our worse than Vandal foe had consigned it, our readers are of course familiar. To Col. H[enry] W. Clowe, at that time Superintendent at Harper's Ferry, the Southern Confederacy is probaly indebted, under providence, for its present possession of the most valuable portion of the machinery saved from the ruins of the National Armory. Regardless of his own safety, and turning a deaf ear to the reports that the buildings had all been mined, Col. Clowe, guided by his intimate knowledge of the situation and relative value of the machinery, rushed into the burning shops, and not only himself saved much which to us was of inestimable value, but inspired others to imitate his patriotic example, and to finally subdue the flames. It is, of course, impossible for us to enumerate, in so hurried and brief a sketch as this is intended to be, the number or specific performances of the machinery which was rescued. It will be satisfactory to our readers, however, we are sure, to learn that all the important works were saved, and that our Armory can now turn out as perfect a musket as ever emananted from Harper's Ferry. Made - lock, stock, barrel, and mounting - entirely by the means of machinery formerly employed by the old Government for the same purpose. We include, in our category of manufactures, the stock; for it may not be generally known that some 20,000 musket and rifle stocks, of the best black walnut, were secured at Harper's Ferry, and are now in this city. The transfer of the machinery from Harper's Ferry to this city, and to Fayetteville, N.C., where a considerable portion of it was conveyed, and where it is now in working order - was performed under proper superintendence; and it is a notable fact, that, notwithstanding the delicate nature of much of the machinery, and the severe tests of fire and water to which it was subjected by foe and friend, no portion of it was materially injured. On the contrary, it was found upon its arrival here to be available, after slight repair, for immediate use.

Among the most valuable of the rescued machinery is a set of five separate pieces, used in cutting upon the stock the grooves for the reception of the lock plates, &c., and which are marvels of mechanical ingenuity and skill. They cost about $27,000 in aggregate, and were made at the "American works, Springfield, Massachusetts." A determined, but fortunately fruitless effort was made by the Hessians to destroy these machines. For that purpose they erected beneath them strong fires, which were, however, discovered and extinguised, before they could affect any injury, by George Mauzy, then an employee in the Armory, and now engaged, we are pleased in being able to add, at our Armory.

There is no portion of the musket, from the fashioning of the stock out of the rough material to polishing of its screws and mountings, which is not performed by machinery, and which, though most complicated in their arrangements, yet work with a perfection of movement and completeness of detail absolutely wonderful. Each portion of the gun, being made separately and upon the same model, admits of what is technically called "indiscriminate fitting" - the perfect adaptability of any portion of the work to others of more recent or of anterior make.

The Virginia Armory is divided into the Stocking Deaprtment, Machine Shop, Mounting Department, Assembling Room, Locking Department, Smith's Shop and Mill Wright's Shop. Describing these in the order of our recent visit to the establishment , we shall first enter the

The Stocking Department
Here the stock is first rudely fashioned, and then nicely turned to its proper form;the work of grooving it for tthe reception of the barrel, lock plate, breech plate, &c., &c., is performed each by a different piece of machinery, of which there are twelve in all, and the stock is then ready for its mountings, - This department is under the direction of John W. Krepps, foreman, and is capable, with its present force, of turning out seventy-five barrels a day, an aggregate which can, however, be largely increased by extra exertion.

Machine and Mountings Shops.
In this department is manufactured all the iron-work which go to complete the musket except the barrel, which is the special manufacture of a branch department. Here there are in all some thirty or forty pieces of machinery, employed in making trigger, guard and breech plates; butt and mounting screws; guard bow, ramrods, bayonets, tips and bands. The machinery here employed was also brought from Harper's Ferry, with the exception of the heavy shaftings, which were furnished by the Tredegar Works. Here may be witnessed some of the most interesting mechanical operations connected with the manufacture of the gun. It may afford some idea of the number of machines, employed in this department alone, to enumerate the number of operations which each portion of the weapon must undergo, and upon separate machines, before it is complete, thus:

The guard bow requires seven, trigger four, guard plate six, breech plate five, ramrods five, and butt screws six. The bayonet is punched by heavy machinery into the required shape, and tipped and finished by several subsequent mechanical operations. Preparations are now being made for the erection of a heavy tilt hammer, especially devoted to the manufacture of this terrible weapon. In this department is a most ingenious and effective machine for punching and trimming several mountings - the invention of the accomplished superintendent, Colonel James H. Burton, (see The Men page) while master armorer over the Harper's Ferry Works.

The foreman of this department is R[eese] H. Butler, (see The Men page) who has at present under his control about 534 [sic] workmen, and I[saac] B. Myers, (see The Men page) who controls about forty mechanics.

Mounting Department.
A branch of the mounting department, above described, is specially appropriated to the rifling and finishing of gun barrels. Here,also, inumerable pieces of elaborate and powerful machinery are employed. In the rifling of the barrels, four machines, recovered from Harper's Ferry, are used. An additional one, purchased in Belgium, is in possession here, but it is seldom used for that purpose. It gives what is known as the "increased twist" to the barrel, but can be so regulated as to reduce the number to the standard required for the Minie gun.

There are now at hand, ready for finishing, about fifteen hundred excellent barrels, the best of the some ten thousand rescued from the fire at Harper's Ferry; a large number of bayonets obtained from the same source, are also here awaiting the finishing touches.

The Polishing Department.
Immediately adjoining the department previous mentioned, is a shop where the barrel otherwise finished, is burnished to the highest degree, by six large rotary machines.

The Lock Department.
We next come to the Lock Department, where the lock of the musket is made, polished, &c., ready to be adapted at once to the weapon. This is under the direction of Joseph A. Brua (see The Men page).

The Assembling Room.
Here the stock and all the various component parts of the musket, some fifty in all, are collected, and the gun put together for use. The "assembling" of the parts of the musket is the final operation connected with its manufacture. When complete, the weapon, after being properly tested, is here packed in oblong boxes, 20 in each box, and transfered to the [arsenal], from whence distribution is made. There are now on hand in the "Assembling room," and very nearly ready for delivery, perfect and well finished Minnie guns, together with about 1500 of the old model percussion muskets, saved unimpaired from the Harper's Ferry conflagration. Soloman B. Adams, Master Armorer, directs the operations of this important department.

The Smith's Shop.
A new and extensive Smith's Shop has recently been added to the establishment. It is situated at the foot of the high hill, upon which the Armory is built, and within the walls which enclose the entire area of the establishment. The addition is not yet complete,a large force of workmen, being bustly engaged under the direction of the foreman of this department Col. H. w. Clowe, to whom services is removing the machinery from the flames at Harper's Ferry we have already referred, in building fine new tilt hammers for forging purposes, cone seating, cutting bayonet stocks, making bands, &c. It is expected that those will all be fully completed in a few weeks, and, added to the four already in operation, will give nine forges and tilt hammers for the manufacture of guns.

Connected with the department, is a mechanical curiosity, technically termed, the Wind Cock, a substitute for the old fashioned blacksmith's bellows, and used for the purpose of supplying the forge fires with draughts of air. The arrangement a very simple one consists of a huge iron pipe, running laterally beneath the furnaces, through which a strong current of air is constantly forced, by the action of a roatry fan moved by machinery, the blast being let into the furnace by simply turning a cock conveniently placed.

The Millwright Shop.
In the same building, and connected in its operations with the smithy, is the Millwright Shop, also under the direction of Col. Clowe. The sole business of this department, is in the construction of the huge oak frame work connected with the tilt hammers, and in the construction of the other frame work necessary in the mechanical operations of the establishment.

Review.
The operations of the Armory have, under the supervision of its capable Superintendent, Col. Burton, and his assistants, been marked with most commendable energy. In proof of this gratifying fact, we have but to mention that though the tearing down of the machinery recovered at Harper's Ferry was not begun until April 19th, and its conveyance to the city was not completed for several weeks sunsequent to that date, yet, in the few short months which have since elapsed, the Armory has been in complete working order, and a system of active operations inaugurated which will enable the establishment to furnish henceforward to the Confederacy not less than 1,000 improved muskets each month. At present about 200 persons, in all, are employed in the establishment, of whom between thirty and thirty-five were formerly connected with the National Armory at Harper's Ferry, and have thus been qualified to render most valuable service in the organization of our SOUTHERN CONFEDERATE ARMORY.








"Rough Draft of History of Richmond Armory," by James Henry Burton, Winchester, Virginia, March 4, 1893 as proposed to be given as a speech to the Turner Ashby Camp, United Confederate Veterans.

"Commander & Comrades,

"In compliance with repeated requests of our esteemed Commander and several valued comrades, I have been induced to collate and reduce to writing my personal experiences & recollections in connection with the Va. State Armort at Richmond during the period extending from Oct. 1860 to May 1862 (during which time I was closely identified with that establishment) and also the chief events ocurring prior to that time in that connection, and i now have the honor of appearing before you (albeit reluctantly) to lay before you the result of my recollections & research. History is worthless unless it be founded on facts & the truth, and it has been my endeavor to secure these conditions in the history & remarks that follow. . . .

"The history may be said to date from the beginning of the year 1860. The Va. Assembly being in session and realizing the possibility, if not the probability of danger to the Commonwealth, resulting from unjust national legislation threatening interests vital to the entire South, felt it incumbent upon it to make some provision for the protection of the Commonwealth should a conflict occur with the Federal Govt. To this end an act was passed Jan 21st 1860 - "For the better defense of the State" and apportioning $500,000 for that purpose, of which $320,00 was for fitting up the State Armory at Richmond, and $180,000 was for the purchase of arms. The Act also provided for the appointment of an "Armory Commission," to direct the expenditure of the money voted for that purpose, and Gov. John Letcher accordingly appointed the following three named gentlemen, viz: Philip St. George Cocke, Francis H. Smith, & Geo. W. Randolph, the latter named being the active member in most cases and with whom the writer had frequent offical interviews & correspondence subsequently. He was an estimable, well informed & capable gentleman, a member later on, of the Va. Convention, and was also Secty. of War for a short period prior to his death, which unfortunately occurred in the early years of the War. Under the provisions of the Act of Assmebly aforesaid a "Master Armorer" was appointed, to direct the technical operations of the Armory when established, and a Mr. Salman Adams, a graduate of the U.S. Armory at Springfield, Mass. was the gentleman selected for the position. He entered upon his duties on or about the 1st of Sept. 1860. To him was entrusted the preparation of a model Rifle-Musket, which was required to embody the best features of the Enfield Rifle and the U.S. Rifle-Musket, and the machinery & tools of the Richmond Armory were to be adapted to the manufacture of arms of the Va. Model. This model was ultimately completed and made use of as will subsequently appear. Mr. Adams was also required to prepare a list of Machines, Tools, Fixtures, Shafting, Pulleys &c. necessary for a Plant equal to the production of 500 Rifle-Muskets per year[sic - week], for the supply of which, plant of machinery &c., parties were called upon to tender. The Ames Mfg. Co. of Chicopee, Mass. put in a bid for it and the Armory Commission had gone so far as to signify their acceptance of that bid, when, upon further consultation, and for reasons set forth in the official correspondence published at the time, it was determined to decline the bid of the Ames Mfg. Co. and award the contract to Jos. R. Anderson & Co. of the Tredegar Works, Richmond, who had offered to do the work on the same terms & conditions as proposed by the Ames Mfg. Co. A contract was therefore drawn up between the "Armory Commission" and Jos. R. Anderson & Co. and signed by the respective parties thereto, 23d August 1860. The amt. specified in said contract being $156,590.40. Supplementary orders were authorized by the Armory Commission increasing the contracts of Jos. R. Anderson & Co. to $172,364.90. One of the provisions of the original contract with this party was to the effect that the State was to turn over to them, in part payment at the price of $1.50 each, all the old Flint Lock Muskets owned by the State, 53,988, reseving 10,000 of them until five thousand Rifled Muskets were made in the Richmond Armory by the machinery &c they were to supply. Later on, when the call for arms became urgent, Messrs. Anderson & Co. relinquished their claim to these arms and placed them at the disposal of the State.

"On Oct. 13th 1860 the writer arrived at H. Ferry with his family, having resigned the position he held in the Govt. Small Arms Factory at Enfield, England because of ill health and with the purpose of enjoying a good rest from the labors which had rendered such a course necessary, but fully aware of the general situation at Richmond. Contrary to his previous determination in this respect and by the advice of friends he wrote to Messrs. Jos. R. Anderson & Co. on 22d Oct., he recieved a Telegram in reply to this effect, "Letter received. Come here at once. Answer." He left the following day at 1 P.M. and arrived in Richmond 3.30 next morning, and had an interview with Jos. R. Anderson & Co. same day, 27th Oct. This interview, with others & some correspondence which follows resulted in an engagement to Engineer their contract on terms mutually satisfactory, and he entered upon his duties on the 5th Nov. 1860, just 23 days after his arrival at home from abroad. - bidding good-bye to his proposed rest & recreation. But - Comrades, - his heart was in his work; it was a labor of love; and hence he had no regrets, for the sacrifice he felt he was making.

"A brief description of the original Armory buildings may be pertinent [see below right for a photo of the Richmond Armory, 1865, from the Library of Congress]. In the beginning, they comprised a front range of buildings on the south side of and facing the James River & Kanawha Canal at the foot of 7th St. with two wings at the flanks extending back. The front range was about 230 feet in length, two stories in height with a wide arched entrance to the open quadrangle within the centre. The two wings extended back form the front about 100 ft. and were also of two stories in height with basement rooms below. The natural surface of the ground being descending form the front. This offered a floor space of about 28,00 square feet for Machinery &c., to be erected therein. There was also a detached buidling, central, and further to rear but on a much lower level than the front range, of but one story high, and affording about 300 ft additional floor space, ultimately utilized as a rolling mill for gun barrels &c. In addition to the above described orginal buildings there were subsequently erected a building, on the lower level, of one story, affording about 6500 ft of floor space, in which was fabricated by smithing, forging, tilt hammers & drop hammers, all the metal parts of teh Rifle, and a two story building on the higher level, centre, on the south side of the interior open quadrangle formed by the Main buildings & wings, about 80 x 40 feet for the purpose of storing the various materials currently required in the Armory, and offered 6400 feet of space for that purpose, making, in grand aggregate about 44,000 square feet of floor space. A part of this last described building was occupied toward the close of the war and in consequence of the exigencies resulting from a greatly depreciated currency and as a measure of domestic economy by Genl. Gorgas, the Chief of Ordnance, whose personal thanks the writer received ofr being the means of furnishing him and his family with such comparatively comfortable quarters.

"At the time of teh writer becoming identified with the Armory it was used in part for storing arms, but in the main barracks & quarters for the Public Guard & its officers, comprising a company of uniformed infantry with a very enditable military band of some 12 or more pieces, attached, maintained by the State, and whose duties consisted of furninshing guard for the capital building & grounds, and for the State Penitentiary. At that time the Company was commanded by Capt. Chas. Dimmock, a graduate of W. Point, - later on promoted to Col. of Va. State Ordnance, 1st Lieut., Gay, and 2d & 3d Lieuts. Kerr - two brothers. Not long after temporary quarters were found by the State for the Public Guard and it was removed thereto in order that the buildings might be repaired and otherwise adapted to the reception of gun machinery.

"Taking a little time to digest the undertaking of Jos. R. Anderson & Co. under their contract and to look over the Armory Buildings and the Tredegar works, with a view to determining the facilities thereing for doing the work undertaken, the writer conferred with the Contractors and advised them to sublet a large portion of the machinery of special character to parties outside of the State, who were better prepared to execute work of that high & special class and also in order to save valuable time. This resulted in subletting of special machinery amounting to $74,667.90 to parties in the North, principally to the Ames Mfg. Co. of Chicopee, Mass., the parties who had first bid for the entire plant. These sub-contracts were sanctioned by the Armory Commission inasmuch as provision was made in Jos. R. Anderson & Co.'s contract with the State for such a contingency, if approved and sanctioned by the Armory Commission in writing. Two of the Armory Commissioner sanctioned & signed authority for these sub-contracts: -Francis H. Smith on Dec. 6th and Geo. W. Randolph on Dec. 10th, 1860.

"In the meantime, Mr. Adams, the Master Armorer, had completed the Va. Model Rifle-Musket, and it was turned over to the writer as the authorized agent of the contractors, together with a spare duplicate barrel, and accompanying letter of date March 12th, 1861. In the meantime, also, the contractors had beenbusy preparing drawings of machines &c., under the writers direction, and such of the work as could be done in the advance of the model arm was put in hand and gotten well under way. The stock of teh model arm and the duplicate barrel was forwarded to teh Ames Mfg. Co. and received by them on March 19th, 1861 being necessary to them in the execution of their sub-contract. It will thus be seen that Messrs. Jos. R. Anderson & Co. had their contract with the State well in hand at this time, say the middle of March 1861, and I should add that the State had made fairly good progress in repairing the Buildings of the Armory and putting them in order for the recption of the Machinery, which work devoted upon the State as per agreement. But whilst all this work & preparation was taking shape - the plot thickened: until Sat. April 13th, 1861. In the writers Diary informed on that date the following entry, "Major Anderson surrounded Fort Sumpter to Genl Beauregard of teh army of the Confederate States. Confederacy flag raised at Tredegar Works. Great rejoicing in Richmond. 100 guns fired and torch-light procession." Comrades, - the great four years struggle had begun, and we all know to our sorrow now what it meant and the outcome of it. Again on April 16th is found this entry, "Abe Lincoln issued proclamation calling on the States to supply troops to the number of 75,000 to assist in retaking southern forts and in coercing the southern seceding States." Next day, 17th April the following entry, "Steamer Yorktown seized at Richmond by order of Gov. Letcher. Three light-ships sunk in the channel of Elizabeth River last night, preventing three U.S. War Steamers from getting out from Norfolk, viz: - the Cumberland, Merrimac and Germantown." Next day, April 18th the entry, "Va. Convention passed an Ordinance of Secession from the U.States." Next day April 19th, "Riot and bloodshed in Baltimore incident to the passage through the City of Northern troops for Washington. Citizens torch-light processino in Richmond celebrating secession &c. Raised flag of the Confederacy on my house. Flag made by my wife." Next day Sat. April 20th the entry, "Great excitement in Richmond and rally of citizens towards formation of miltary companies. Four companies organized in the Tredegar Works." Sunday, 21st April the entry," Military turned out in morning and went through regimental drill on the common back of the penitentiary." But what has all this to do with Richmond Armory you may inquire? But little perhaps, directly; indirectly much, very much, - and pregnant with ominous import to the entire South, as subsequent events verified.

"These extracts from the writers diary are merely introduced to recall to your minds, Comrades, the central events of the War which followed. In so far as they affected the Richmond Armory, and the work incident thereto, their influence was great, as will hereafter appear. We have now arrived at a very important & interesting period in the history of the Armory. Gov. Letcher and his advisers, realizing the necessity of taking all measures possible for the defense of the State, called out the State troops with orders to march to Harpers Ferry and capture the U. S. Govt Armory at that place. These orders were successfully carried out and the town and Armory occupied at midnight on the night of Thursday, April 18th, 1861, the Virginia troops being commanded , Comrades, by the gallant & intrepid Turner Ashby, in commemoration of whose name & brave deeds in defence of this State and the cause he had espoused our "Camp" has hapily been named. This capture placed at the disposal of the State of Va. two nearly complete and ample sets of machinery & other facilities for the manufacture of Rifles & Rifle-Muskets, and out troops continuing to occupy the town and receiving daily reinforcements, Gov. Letcher gave orders for the immediate removal to Richmond of all the valuable machinery, stores & useful materials with as little delay as possible, and these orders were, in the main, carried out successfully; a work of great labor as, between Winchester & Strasburg there was no R.Road and the transportation had consequently to be effected entirely by trams & wagons between these towns.

"It now having become an important question as to the ultimate disposition of the valuable means of defense captured by teh State of Va., both at Norfolk and at H. Ferry a "temporary Convention & Agreement" was entered into between the Commonwealth of Va. and the "Provisional Govt. of the Confederate States," stipulating that after Virginia should become a member of the Confederacy under the permanent Constitution of the Confederate States, she should "turn over to said Confederate States all the public property, naval stores, and munitions of war &c. she may then be in possession of acquired from the United States, on the same terms, and in like manner, as the other States of said Confederacy have done in like cases," I quote from document. This Convention & Agreement was signed April 24th, 1861 (only six days after the State of Va. had passed an Ordinance of Secession) by Alexander H. Stephens on the part of the Provisional C.S. Govt. and by John Tyler, Wm Ballard Preston, S. McD. Moore, Jas. H. Holcombe, Jas. C. Bruce, and Lewis E. Harris, on the part of the Commonwealth of Va. This agreement virtually secured to the C.S. Govt., the property referred to, as will be seen further on.

The State being now in possession of all the machinery &c. necessary for the manufacture of Arms, and it being impossible as well as unnecessary for Jos. R. Anderson & Co. having no further use for the writer's professional services settled with him on satisfactory terms, and he was at once offered & accepted the Commission of Gov. Letcher as Lieut. Col. of Ordnance in the Ordnance Deaprtment of Va., and placed in charge of Richmond Armory June 1st 1861. Mr. Salmon Adams retaining the position as Master Armorer subject to the writer's orders: and in justice to that gentleman, I feel bound to say that I found him, from first to last, a very efficient, trustworthy, and loyal aid. I had known him personally in ante bellum times as a leading employee of the U.S. Armory at Springfield. In meantime the troops at Harpers Ferry had greatly increased in number and had been placed under command of Gen Jos. E. Johnston: but along towards the middle of June, H. Ferry being threatened by a strong force of the enemy, it became probable that Genl Johnston would be compelled to evacuate that place and fall back further south, which he eventually did. There still remaining at H. Ferry considerable valuable machinery &c. Gov. Letcher under advice, issued June 6th, 1861 the following order to Col. Dimmock, Chief of teh Ordnance Dept. of Va. (see original order). In pursuance of this order the writer proceeded at once to H. Ferry, armed with the requisite letter to Genl. Johnston, arriving there at midnight of 8th June. Reported early the following day at Head Quarters (the Armory Supert's house on "Camp Hill") to Genl. Johnston, and delivered to him Gov. Letcher's letter, being received with the writer rought with especial kindness & consideration. After some further explanation of the situation to Genl. Johnston, he immediately issued the follow: - . . .In obedience to the authority of the Governor of Virginia, Lt. Col. Burton, Va. Ordnance, will assume command of the Harper's Ferry Armories. . . In pursuance of this authority the writer at once set about making materials &c. and appointed as his agent at H. Ferry to attend to the shipping of the same on the cars, Mr. Philip Burkhart, one of the writer's old and most reliable Foreman at the H. F. Armory in ante bellum days, and gave him written detailed instructions in regard to his duties. In order to insure as far as possible the prompt reshipping & forwarding of the property from Winchester & Strasburg, the writer appointed as his agents, Mr. G. F. Cross at Winchester and Mr. Frank Mauzy at Strasburg, each with written detailed instructions. The writer saw these gentlemen at their respective posts of duty before he returned to Richmond. Before leaving H. Ferry on the 11th June, the writer prepared and left with Genl. Johnston a letter explaining his arrangements at that place and requesting his, Genl. Johnston's, and in their furtherance in case the agent, Mr. Burkhart, should find occasion to call on him. Having accomplished the purpose of his mission so far as lay in his power the writer returned to Richmond and made a written detailed report to Col. Dimmock on the 15th June/61 . . .

"On the 14th June (only three days after the writer had left that place to return to Richmond) Genl. Johnston caused the R. R. bridge over the Potomac to be blown up, and the main Armory building burned and evacuating the town all his forces retreated up the valley. After that no more Armory property could be removed south. . .

"In the meantime, good progress had been made with the work of repairing, erecting & putting to work in the Richmond Armory the captured machinery from H. Ferry, inasmuch as it was tacitly understood that this course was desired by the C.S. War Department, and numerous workmen were employed in cleaning up, repairing, and making serviceable many gun barrels, bayonets, and other parts of Arms recovered from teh burnt remains of the Arsenals at H. Ferry. The transfer of teh Armory Machines & Arms, Buildings to the C. S. Govt. being consummated it was desired that the writer should follow it into that service. He consequently resigned his commission at "Lt. Col. of Ordnance in the Ord. Dept of Va.," and was at once appointed "Supt. of Armories" by Genl. L. Pope Walker, Secty of War by special desire of Presidt. Davis and Col. Gorgas, Chief of Ord., July 19th/61 and again assigned to the command of Richmond Armory pending the passage by the C. States Congress, then sitting in Richmond - of an act creating that office. This was subsequently done, and the writer received received the commission of "Supt. of Armories" in teh war Dept. of the Confed. States from Presdt. Davis of date Sept. 2d/61, which position he had the honor of holding to the end of the war. By the 1st Oct/61 the Armory was in complete working order, turning out arms in quantity not of the contemplated Va. Model Rifle, but of the U.S. patern Rifle Musket in process of manufacture at the H. Ferry Armory at the time of its capture, 18th April 1861. . .

"At the time the various departments of the Armory were in charge of the following named Foremen, viz: Gun Stock Dept., John W. Krepps; Bayonet & Mounting Dept., Reese H. Butler; Lock Dept., Jos. A. Brua; Forging & Tilt Hammer Dept., Col. H. W. Clowe; all graduates of the Harpers Ferry Armory. . .

"On the evacuation of Richmond by the Confederate Government and troops in April 1865 it shared in the general destruction of fire of the various public and other buildings & property destroyed on that sad occasion, the stout brick walls of the Armory buildings only remaining standing. Soon after the close of teh war the Armory property was leased by the Tredegar Iron works, whose establishment adjoined on the west side: and about the year 1884 - the State of Va. having no further use for the property, it was sold at public auction, the Tredegar Iron Works becoming the purchaser, and it is now partially utilized as part of those works. In the meantime the walls of the Armory buildings have been taken down from time to time for the utilization of the bricks for other purposes, so that at the present time only the Western half of the Officers' quarters remain standing. It will not be long in all probability ere this remnant too will disappear, and with it all trace of the once flourishing establishment whose ample walls in days lonmg since vanished received the busy hum of machinery and the lively click of hammer and anvil. Then will the old Va. State Armory exist only in the memories of those who knew it in the days of which we write. Let us hope, Comrades, that there may never again be occasion similar to that to which incidental reference is made, for the erection of another Va. State Armory, but rather that peace & happiness may be the future common lot of our people.


Bibliography/Suggested Reading

James Henry Burton Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library

Cromwell, Giles. The Virginia Manufactory of Arms. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1975).

Dew, Charles B. Ironmaker to the Confederacy. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966).

Michel, Benjamin P. "The Richmond Armory." The Bulletin of the Amercian Society of Arms Collectors. No. 33 (1976). pp. 65-74.


Spiller & Burr Home Page

Revolvers

The Men

Buildings and Places