Now What: Richmond Ironworks Workers
    6/12/2012
    I've always been told that my ancestor worked at the "Richmond Ironworks" during the Civil War. But his son was born in Tallassee, Ala., in early 1865. Can you help solve this mystery?
    Q. I've always been told that my ancestor worked at the "Richmond Ironworks" during the Civil War. But his son was born in Tallassee, Ala., in early 1865. Can you help solve this mystery?

    A. It might be that your ancestor worked not at the famous Tredegar Ironworks in Richmond, Va., (see our city guide in this issue), but at the Richmond Carbine Factory in the nearby Richmond Arsenal. In June 1864, as Union forces threatened Richmond, then-Col. Josiah Gorgas, later brigadier general, and chief of the Confederate Bureau of Ordnance, ordered the rifle factory and 144 civilian workers relocated to Tallassee, Ala.

    Setting up in a cotton mill built in 1844 and powered by the Tallapoosa River, the Confederate Carbine Works at the Tallassee Armory began manufacturing the Tallassee Cavalry Carbine. The war ended before the factory could reach its goal of producing 6,000 carbines a year. The only Confederate armory not destroyed during the Civil War, the Tallassee Armory is today a national historic site; it's currently under renovation.