For their political independence, the people of the Southern States have only to thank their own strong arms and resolute will. But they will owe their disenthrallment in the commercial and manufacturing relations of life – if that disenthrallment shall ever be completely attained – solely to the blind and foolish hate of their enemies. Already, it would be a difficult task to reckon the many new channels of useful industry, into which Southern ingenuity and Southern manufacturing talent have been forced, by the public necessities which the blockade has developed.
But in no department of mechanical art are our people so rapidly becoming self reliant, as in the production of those substances and munitions which are the implements of modern warfare. When the war broke out, our absolute dependence upon the Yankees, for everything necessary to equip an army, was an appalling truth, which might well have discouraged a Confederacy than just ushered into existence. But a few months has quite changed the aspect of affairs. Large gun factories at Richmond, Nashville, Knoxville, Ashville (N.C.), Fayetteville and New Orleans have been established, and are now constantly engaged in making muskets. It is no exaggeration to say that at least two thousand of these weapons, finished in the best manner, are turned out every week. The aggregate capacity of the several establishments to supply small arms will soon be doubled.
In respect to ordnance, we have already frequently noticed the energy with which the casting of heavy guns is carried on at many of the foundries of the South. We learn that the Government has, besides, contracted for a large supply of copper from the Tennessee mines, in order to begin, at once, the manufacture of light brass guns, for field service. It will interest our readers to know that some of this copper has already been received here, and that a well known firm of our city is about to begin immediately making these light brass field batteries.
Until June last, pure copper had never been produced in the South. But the thousand uses, naval and military, for which the metal was required, stimulated a few energetic spirits to procure the necessary machinery, and the smelting of the ore is now conducted on quite a large scale, the yield of pure copper being about 6000 pounds per day.
Surely, if such be the fruits of the first year of the war, the isolation which it has brought upon us is not an unmixed evil.
Collection: The Civil War
Publication: The Charleston Mercury
Date: December 6, 1861
Title: Benefits of the War