From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/8/1910, p. 5, c. 3
TELLS HOW PLANT HELPED THE SOUTH
Col. Archer Anderson Delivers Eloquent Address at Tablet Unveiling.
MARK TREDEGAR WORKS
Confederate Memorial Society Erects Tablet on Historic Ground.
A clear November day filled with brilliant sunshine and a throng of deeply moved spectators, rendered the ceremonies attendant upon the unveiling of a tablet at the Tredegar Iron Work yesterday morning at 11 o’clock, in the presence of representatives of the Tredegar Iron Works, the Confederate Memorial Literary Society, Lee Camp and Sons of Veterans, most impressive and interesting.
On arrival at the works visitors were met and welcomed by Colonel Archer Anderson, F. T. Glasgow, J. T. Anderson, Archer Anderson, Jr., J. R. J. Anderson, St. G. M. Anderson, G. B. Hobson, Charles Bruce, William R. Trainham, E. W. Cooper, F. A. Hobson, M. de G. Hobson, and many other members of the company.
Souvenirs in the shape of little horseshoes made from the iron of the Merrimac-Virginia, were distributed, and, almost immediately after the entire assembling of those asked to be present, and adjournment to the yard was made. The tablet had been placed on the north end of the main office building, and the Rev. Robert Forsyth of Saint Paul’s Church, fronting the audience, offered a fervent and beautiful supplication that ended with the Lord’s Prayer.
Afterward Colonel Archer Anderson delivered the following eloquent address, which was listened to with the closest attention:
“The tablet which we are about to unveil has been placed at the request of the ladies of the Confederate Memorial Literary Society in order to record briefly the chief service rendered during the war to the Confederate States by the Tredegar Iron Works.
“These works were founded in 1836. In less than two years afterwards the different parts of the establishment held by several owners became the property of the Tredegar Iron Company, organized in January, 1838. About seven years ago the old building, standing on the site of that to which this tablet is affixed, was pulled down, and in the garret, which had not been visited for fifty years, perhaps, was found a book containing the proceedings of the board of directors and of the stockholders of that company.
Leaders of Old Richmond.
“Many of those recorded as taking part in these meetings were the leading men of old Richmond – Francis B. Deane, Jr., the founder of the works, a man of the most ardent public spirit; Thomas Rutherford, Nicholas Mills, Samuel Marx, William H. Macfarland, Dr. Thomas Nelson, Samuel Mordecai, George Woodbridge, Edward Cunningham, Jr., John R. Triplett, Bernard Peyton and others. But the enterprise was new, it encountered many difficulties, and in a partial reorganization in March, 1841, it called into its service as commercial agent Joseph R. Anderson, of Botetourt county, a graduate of West Point, then twenty-eight years old, who, after serving a short time in the Engineer Corps of the army, had accepted an appointment as assistant to the Chief Engineer Corps of the army, had accepted an appointment as assistant to the Chief Engineer of Virginia, Colonel Crozet, and in that capacity had constructed the Valley Turnpike, from Staunton to Winchester, afterwards so famous in the campaign of Stonewall Jackson. Two years and a half later he became the lessee of the works, and in 1848, the sole owner.
The old Tredegar Iron Company was soon afterwards dissolved, and its assets were distributed among its shareholders.
The Test of the Guns.
“At an early period of his connection with the business my father had undertaken the manufacture of heavy castiron guns for the army and navy using for this purpose the charcoal pig iron made at the Cloverdale and Grace furnaces, in Botetourt county, Va. In this he was eminently successful, and the Tredegar Works became one of the four foundries employed by the United States government to make heavy cannon. Army and navy officers were always sent to supervise their manufacture and to prove each gun by firing a number of service rounds. I remember seeing such a trial take place in what is now Hollywood Cemetery, the shot being fired into the hill on which the superintendent’s house at present stands. On one occasion, not long before the war, one of the departments determined to test a gun made at each of the government foundries to extremity by firing it with a certain charge till the gun burst. The gun made at the Tredegar Works stood this extreme test for a greater number of rounds than that of any other foundry, and the records at Washington no doubt attest to this fact.
“Such was the preparation of these works for the service they had to render on the outbreak of the War Between the States.
The Cannon That Were Cast.
“There was, I believe, no other foundry in operation in the South which had cast a heavy gun, and, though great efforts were made in the subsequent years of the war, with some success, to establish other gun foundries, I do not understand that their product was very considerable. An old foundry record kept here shows that eleven hundred and sixty (1,160) cannon were cast at the Tredegar Iron Works during the years 1861-1865. Many of these were field guns of bronze or iron. It was no easy matter in those times to turn out this product here. One constant difficulty was to get efficient labor when the army was calling for every able-bodied white man. Then every sort of raw material required had to be produced by the firm of J. R. Anderson & Co., operating the Tredegar Works, for there were but few independent manufacturers who could supply the various commodities needed.
“The ore had to be mined, the trees felled and converted into charcoal, the pig iron smelted in primitive blast furnaces with a capacity of less than 2,000 tons per annum. This product had then to be transported in wagons or bateaux to the canal at Buchanan and thence in boats drawn by horses two hundred (200) miles to Richmond, and every one of these operations had to be conducted by the firm mentioned. Meanwhile, coal had to be provided by the purchase by them of mines near Richmond, which they had to work, and, in the later years of the war, the same proprietors had to acquire tanyards and make leather and shoes for their operatives and undertake special arrangements to supply them with food and clothing. There was no co-operation of many independent manufacturers, as in highly-organized societies, towards the finished product of the Tredegar Works. The ten-inch Columbiad delivered here to the Confederate government had at every stage of its manufacture, from the iron ore dug from the mountain side been the product of the firm of J. R. Anderson & Co., operating the Tredegar Works. Besides its head, some of its important members during the war were John F. and William E. Tanner and Robert and R. S. Archer.
Skill as Master Workmen.
“But at every point they were seconded by the skill and fidelity of the master workmen trained by long service here, who had become the practical managers of the different department. I have only time to mention one, taken from us by a comparatively early death many years ago, our master founder, Peter S. Derbyshire, who had a real genius for his technical business, and, besides that, nerve and presence of mind at the critical moment of a great cast, which stamped him as a leader of men.
“Derbyshire was responsible for every gun cast in those eventful years.
“In the brief inscription on the tablet it was necessary to omit many of the products of these works, which were of almost vital interest to the Southern States, cut off from the rest of the world, though it is there recorded that the wrought iron armor of the frigate Merrimac-Virginia was made here.
“Gun carriages for field and siege artillery, bar iron for the blacksmith and the farmer, nails for the carpenter, spikes, bridge bolts, axles and car wheels for the railroad, supplied some of the urgent wants of the country. It was a misfortune that the shops for constructing locomotives established here in 1852 were burnt a few years later and never rebuilt. General Anderson’s associate in that enterprise, a practical locomotive builder, John Souther, of Boston, Mass, was still living last summer at the ago of ninety-six.
“But it is time to conclude this hasty sketch. Enough has been said, perhaps, to give some idea of the supreme importance to the South in its poverty of the manufacturing industries of Richmond, and to show why it was necessary to try to hold this city long after mere military considerations would have dictated its evacuation.
“The Confederacy fell with Richmond.”
The tablet, when unveiled, was seen to be of granite almost square in shape and bearing the following inscription:
The Tredegar Iron Works,
Made for the Confederate Government
The greater part of cannon and
Produced in the Southern States,
And the wrought iron armor of the
This tablet is placed at the request of
The Confederate Memorial Literary Society,
A. D. 1910.
Edgar R. Archer, of the Tredegar Iron Works, drew the veil, his act being greeted with a repetition of the applause that marked the conclusion of Colonel Anderson’s address. Both brought home afresh the importance of the work now being done in the marking of buildings famous through their connection with the War of the Confederacy.
Among those present were Mrs. Joseph R. Anderson, Mrs. Archer Anderson, Mrs. Lizzie Cary Daniel, acting president of the Confederate Memorial Literary Society; Mrs. James D. Werth, chairman of the society’s sites committee; Lieutenant-Governor and Mrs. J. Taylor Ellyson, the Rev. James P. Smith, D. D., Mayor and Mrs. D. C. Richardson, Mrs. William A. Anderson, Mrs. J. B. Pace, Misses Sally and Kathleen Anderson, Mrs. F. D. Williams, Miss Ellen Glasgow, Miss Roberta Wellford, Mrs. W. N. Hamlet, Mrs. A. M. Tyler, Miss Amy McRae Werth, Miss Helen McIntyre, Mrs. H. T. Ellyson, Mrs. P. J. White, Miss Maude Woodfin and others.