Richmond Arsenal Ammunition Crate


Description and Photograph





     The Richmond Arsenal was housed in the large antebellum tobacco factory buildings situated on Byrd Island, between the Kanawha Canal and James River.  The water from the canal and its basin had been harnessed to supply power to the various factories and mills built along its course prior to the war.  Not only did the Canal provide a steady source of power, it served as a fire break, separating Richmondís financial and residential areas from the hazardous munitions.  Byrd Island also served as terminus of the Richmond - Petersburg Railroad which had connecting lines to the Danville Railroad as well as the Weldon. Tredegar Iron Works, the Richmond Armory, the Artillery Works and numerous mills, foundries and factories were located adjacent to, and around the Richmond Arsenal.  It was an ideal location for the Confederacyís most important arsenal. 

     The following is taken from a report prepared under the direction of Lt. Col. William LeRoy Broun and published in the Richmond Enquirer the day of Richmondís evacuation.

     During the three and one half years between July 1st 1861 and January 1st 1865 the Richmond Arsenal issued a staggering  seventy two million, four hundred thirteen thousand, eight hundred fifty four (72,413,854) small arms cartridges of all calibers and 146,901,250 percussion caps!   Each of these cartridges had to be individually wrapped, then rewrapped ten to a package along with twelve percussion caps and finally, one hundred of these ten-packs were packed in protective wooden crates like the one shown here.  These crates had to be labeled with type and caliber of the enclosed ammunition as well as the date and location of issuance.

     Lt. Col. Broun's report does not delineate between pistol and rifle ammunition but, using the formula of 1000 rounds per crate, the Arsenal had to have produced seventy two thousand, four hundred fourteen (72,414) ammunition crates.  After having taken a survey of the larger Confederate collections both in private hands and institutions I believe that there are less than ten surviving examples of all calibers. 

     This crate has held up exceptionally well.  The joints are tight, the wood solid.  The green waterproof paint shows a lot of wear but, has not peeled or faded.  The Richmond Arsenalís white stenciled information panels are strong clear and legible, informing all that it weighed 96 Lbs and contained 1000 Cartridges Caliber 57-58 of elongated ball and was manufactured at the Richmond Arsenal during August 1864.    



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