Invoicing Drewry’s Bluff

Somebody’s got to supply the pieces and parts that wars are fought with.  And that often leads to a paperwork trail.  The J.R. Anderson & Company section of the Confederate Citizen’s Files provides numerous examples of such.  On occasion the billing details are sufficient to link a specific “part” to a historical event.  Such is the case with this receipt posted on June 2, 1862:

The entries are as follows:

  • March 31 – 10 Iron shoes for piles @ $2.50 each – Application- Obstructions at Drewry’s Bluff.  Total cost $25.
  • April 19 – 30 Iron shoes and 60 spikes for piles @ $2.75 each. Total cost $82.50.
  • April 19 – 80 Bolts 1 x 28 = 570 lbs.  40 Bolts 1 x 20 = 182 lbs.  34 1″ washers = 5 lbs.  Total 757 pounds  @ 16 cents per pounds.  Total Cost $121.12.
  • May 6 – 52 ragged bolts 272 lbs @ 16 cents.  Total cost $43.52.  Charge of $1 for hauling the bolts.

Although the receipt does not itemize each line’s application, given the first entry at least some of this iron went to Drewry’s Bluff.   When the Federal squadron rounded the bend in front of Drewry’s Bluff on May 15, 1862, the obstructions stopped the Yankee navy (the guns then repulsed the ironclads).  This June 2nd receipt of goods from Tredegar includes part of those obstructions placed in the James River.

10 July 11 851
James River at Drewry’s Bluff

And yes… Tredegar charged the Confederate government a dollar just to haul ragged bolts… talk about war profiteering!

J.R. Anderson & Company / Tredegar Iron Works continued to supply Drewry’s Bluff even after the immediate threat passed.  A receipt from July 4 itemizes additional hardware transferred to the fortifications.

These are the pencil-pushing details I like to see:

  • 252 ragged bolts – 1827 pounds @ 16 cents per pound.
  • 4 timbers 6″ x 8 ” x 28 feet – 448 board feet.
  • 2 timbers 10″ x 13″ x 36 feet – 780 board feet.
  • 2 timbers 6″ x 8″ x 18 feet – 144 board feet.
  • 5 timbers 12″ x 12″ x 15 feet – 900 board feet.
  • 10 long 1 1/2 inch bolts and nuts
  • 56 wrought iron washers
  • 6 inch squares
  • 70 bolts and washers
  • 2 sets of traverse circles, tie breaks, and spikes
  • 30 one inch iron bars.

All told, this cost another $1007.14.

Certainly these receipts represent just a small component of the defensive works established at Drewry’s Bluff during the war.  The receipts remind us these “parts” of the war didn’t just show up in the soldiers hands.  There’s a story to how those timbers and iron hardware were produced, procured, and transported.

Published by Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: