During this Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, we will from time to time look at certain aspects of the war and how it affected people and institutions during the war. One of those aspects is iron. For starters, the South did not have much manufacturing and hardly any mines or factories. Early in Gone with the Wind, Rhett Butler observes, “There is not a cannon factory in the entire South.”
Add to this shortage the fact that the South was under a blockade from the Union navy, a blockade that made obtaining even basic supplies extremely difficult, and the shortage becomes even more acute. With that shortage, people began to improvise. One way was to melt down what you already had.
One of the best examples of this is what happened at First (Scots) Presbyterian Church in Charleston. Formed in 1731, First Scots donated its bells to the Confederacy for cannons. Until recently, according to the National Park Services's website, there were no bells at First Scots. Only recently an English bell made in 1814, the year the church was built, was hung in the church’s north tower. First Scots is open to the public from 8:30A.M.-5 P.M.Mon-Fri. It is located at 53 Meeting Street, Charleston, about a 2 hour drive from Columbia.
Another example, also from Charleston, was picket fences. While picket fences have been around since colonial times, they were used in Charleston to replace iron fences that were melted down for the war effort. Picket fences used in this manner were known as “badges of honor.”
So, these are only 2 examples of how the sacrifice of iron played out during the war. Please let us know if you have any other similar stories.
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