The furnace was constructed by Montgomery businessman Alfred A. Janney, reportedly using slaves brought from Tennessee by a "Dr. Smith." The furnace was completed and ready to produce pig iron when, on July 14, 1864, a Union cavalry raiding force of 2,300 men, led by Major General Louvell H. Rousseau, crossed the Coosa River at Ten Islands Ford in route to destroying the railroad between Montgomery and West Point, Georgia. Learning of the location of the furnace, Rousseau dispatched his Engineer Officer, Captain Ed Ruger, and a detachment to destroy the chimney of the furnace, leaving the stone structure in place. They also burned all wooden buildings intended to support operation of the furnace.