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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Confederate Ordnance Lab Explosion

 
 
Confederate Ordnance Lab Explosion Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 30, 2013
1. Confederate Ordnance Lab Explosion Marker
Inscription. In 1862, during the Civil War, Confederates established an ordnance laboratory and complex on the western part of nearby Brown’s Island. Workers there, many of them women and children who were forced to find employment because of the economic disruption occasioned by the war, assembled cartridges and other ammunition. Despite Col. Josiah Gorgas’s stringent safety guidelines, on 13 Mar. 1863, worker Mary Ryan accidentally ignited a friction primer, resulting in a massive explosion that destroyed the building. Richmond residents, responding to the “terrific report,” found a scene of horror, with many victims “burnt from head to toe.” Ryan, and at least 40 others, died from the explosion.
 
Erected 2012 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number SA-101.)
 
Location. 37° 32.126′ N, 77° 26.6′ W. Marker is in Richmond, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of South 5th Street and Tredegar Street, on the left when traveling south on South 5th Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Richmond VA 23219, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Tredegar Iron Works (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Canal Walk / Historic Canals
Brown's Island (left) and Tredegar Iron Works (right) image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 30, 2013
2. Brown's Island (left) and Tredegar Iron Works (right)
(about 300 feet away); Falls of the James (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Canal Walk / Historic Canals (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Tredegar Iron Works (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named The Tredegar Iron Works (about 500 feet away); Confederate Laboratory (about 500 feet away); Haxall Headgates (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
 
Also see . . .
1. Confederate States Laboratory. Civil War Richmond (Submitted on December 17, 2014.) 

2. Women and Girls in the Browns Island Explosion. Civil War Women (Submitted on December 17, 2014.) 

3. Dedication of monument to victims of CS Laboratories explosion. Virginia Division UDC and Virginia Division CofC (Submitted on December 17, 2014.) 
 
Categories. DisastersWar, US Civil
 
Brown's Island in the background image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, March 30, 2013
3. Brown's Island in the background
Panoramic view of Richmond in ruins image. Click for full size.
By Alexander Gardner, 1865
4. Panoramic view of Richmond in ruins
The frame buildings visible on the far side of the Haxall Canal are the Confederate Laboratories on Brown's Island. Library of Congress [LC-B811-884]
UDC Monument in Oakwood Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher
5. UDC Monument in Oakwood Cemetery
In memory of those who lost their lives in the explosion of C.S. Laboratories on Brown's Island - Richmond, Virginia, March 13, 1863

Though their hands were small and not hardened in battle their service to the Confederacy looms large.

May this stone serve as a perpetual memorial to the dedication and sacrifice of these forgotten and unsung victims.

"Let us remember them as time and tide move on in endless rhyme while bud and blossom, hill and tree
remember them, so shall we." Oliver Reeves

Erected by Virginia Division,
United Daughters of the Confederacy,

Dedicated September 15, 2001
Names and ages of the victims. image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher
6. Names and ages of the victims.
Mary Ryan, 18 • Mary Blessingham, 12 • Eliza Willis, 10 • Elizabeth Young, 33 • Mary Archer, 12 • Sarah Haney • Annie Peddicord • Mary Annie Garnett, 13 • Barbara A. Jackson, 16 • Robert S. Chaple, 15 • Elizabeth S. Moore, 15 • Delia Clemens, 20 • Sarah Foster, 14 • Sarah Marshall, 67 • Rev John H. Woodcock, 63 • Alice Johnson, 17 • Mary E. Valentine, 14 • Margaret Drustly, 16 • Amelia Diefenback, 15 • Mary Zerhum, 12 • Anne E. Bolton, 14 • Nannie Horan, 14 • Virginia E. Page, 13 • Mary Ellen Wallace, 12 • Emma Virginia Blankenshp, 15 • Margaret Alexander, 15 • Caroline Zietenheimer, 16 • Martha Clemmons, 25 • James Currie • Mary O’Brien • Martha Burley • Martha Daley • Mrs. Ann Dodson • Julia A. Brannon • Mary Rowlin • Catherine McCarthy • Mary Zinginham • Mary Whitehurst • Maria Brien • Ella Smith • Annie Davis • Mary Cushing • Louisa Ricely • Ellen Sullivan • Mary O’Connors • Virginia A. Mayer, 12
Shockoe Hill Cemetery image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher
7. Shockoe Hill Cemetery
Fourteen of the victims of the March 1863 explosion are buried in this unmarked section of Shockoe Hill cemetery.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 31, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 448 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 31, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   5, 6, 7. submitted on November 5, 2009, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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