This building was built in 1861 to cast cannons for the Confederate Government. One of the reasons Richmond became the capital of the Confederacy was its ability to produce arms, clothing, paper, and other essentials for the Confederate government, army, and navy. Tredegar had produced cannons, ordnance and other iron products for the U.S. Army and Navy before the Civil War, and this effort was applied to Confederate contracts once Virginia seceded.
The Civil War at Tredegar
Joseph Reid Anderson, the head of Tredegar, was given control of coal mines near Richmond and blast furnaces in western Virginia to maintain his flow of raw materials. He also reopened the Virginia Manufactory of Arms building, a state armory built between 1798 and 1810 for arms making. Another close-by arms production facility was the Confederate "laboratory" on Brown's Island, where white women loaded cartridges for small arms. An explosion at the facility killed thirty women in 1863.
The 12 Pound Howitzer Gun
The gun you see here was cast in the Tredegar Foundry, 7 January 1862, and was designated gun number 1432. The Civil War records of Tredegar outline their production of guns, ordnance, and other vital material.
The Civil War gun foundry had two large exterior air furnaces operating on a single stack. Coal and iron were loaded into the furnace, and the heat from the burning coal was carried over the iron by the air draft, melting it. Then the molten iron was tapped on the interior side of the wall and flowed down a trough into molds in the floor of the foundry.