From the Richmond Dispatch, 3/12/1863, p. 1, c. 5

Extensive Fire. – Great Destruction of Government and State Property. - About half past 12 o’clock on Tuesday night that part of the Public Warehouse known as Brown’s Addition, fronting 20 feet on Canal street, opposite the packet landing, and 130 feet on 8th street, was discovered to be on fire in the upper stories, occupied for sometime past for storage purposes by the Confederate Government. Owing to the combustible nature of the contents of the upper story the flames soon enveloped the whole building, (which was of brick,) and extending downwards set fire to many hundred hogsheads of tobacco, the property of individual citizens and firms both in the Confederacy and foreign countries, but for which the State of Virginia is responsible. When the fire got well started nothing could stop it but the exertions of the Fire Brigade, with the steam engine and other help, which was vigorously applied on the occasion, preventing the spread of the fire to the other property adjoining and on the opposite side of the street. By the failing of the wells of Brown's addition to the Public Warehouses, some of the sheds under which tobacco was stored in hogsheads several tiers deep, they were set on fire, but luckily at this point a surplus of water prevented the damage that seemed likely to ensue. A number of bales of cotton, belonging to the James River Manufacturing Company and Manchester Cotton Factory, were stored on 8th street, in front of the burning building, and caught fire several times, but being quickly deluged with water were not materially injured — The loss by this fire is computed at two hundred thousand dollars. It was certainly the most destructive conflagration with which our city has been visited for some years, and whether caused by accident or design is to be equally deplored. We heard yesterday evening the rumor that the State of Virginia intended to institute a strict investigation, so that the blame of the calamity might be determined. The part of the warehouse destroyed was probably worth forty thousand dollars. Eight hundred hogsheads of tobacco were burned, which, at present prices, ($500 per hhd,) would amount to $400,000; but the state paying only the original valuation, will only lose in this item about $160,000. Two hundred hhds, of the tobacco belonged to the Rothschilds, of Paris, and were at one time the subject of a suit in the C. S. District Court, when they were sought to be sequestered as the property of August Belmont, of New York, an alien enemy. The above enumeration comprises most of the loss accruing to the State. The Confederate States Government lost $3,000 bushels of shipstuff, 1,000 bushels of oats, 300 bushels of corn, and 100,000 empty cotton grain bags, besides other property of which no list could be obtained. The loss of grain etc., can be determined by the present market value. The light from this fire Illuminated the whole horizon for miles, and the heat was most intense. Even at 1 o'clock yesterday the smouldering remnants were emitting fitful glares and the most uncomfortable odor. There were very few persons present, considering the extent of the conflagration. The rain fell during the while in torrents.

Go to top