Primary Source of the Month
[Richmond, Va. View of the Tredegar Iron Works, with footbridge to Neilson's Island]. Alexander Gardner, April 1865.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, [LC-DIG-cwpb-04035].
This photograph of the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia, was taken in April 1865 after Richmond, the capitol of the Confederacy, fell to Union forces. Richmond had been chosen as the capitol of the rebelling nation partly because of Tredegar’s importance as a foundry. It was strategically located on a river and a railroad hub, with coal fields nearby for fuel. Named for the famous iron works at Tredegar, Wales, when Virginia’s Tredegar opened in 1837, it made locomotives, equipment for sugar mills, and military ordnance for the government. During the Civil War, though unable to work at full capacity due to a shortage of supplies, Tredegar produced 1,000 cannons for the Confederate forces. Armor plating for Confederate ironclads, including the famous CSS Virginia, was also made there, and Joseph R. Anderson, the owner, experimented with submarines, cannon designs, and other projects for the Confederacy.
The factory remained in business through the first half of the 20th century, despite the defeat of the Confederacy and subsequent financial panics. Most of the iron works was destroyed in a fire in 1952. The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar now operates a museum in the restored cannon foundry.
For more information, visit The National Park Service: Tredegar Iron Works