C. S. Laboratory

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 :: Confederate States Laboratory ::
Information about the C. S. Laboratory in Richmond, VA during the Civil War

Located on Brown's island in the James River. In the early part of the war, cartridge-making was conducted at Thomas' factory, but the operations were moved to Brown's Island, apparently over concerns about safety.


Detail of 1867 U. S. Army Corps of Engineers map, showing the C. S. Laboratory on Brown's Island and vicinity.
View of the Tredegar Iron Works, from the Petersburgh R. R. Bridge, Richmond, Va. E. & H. T. Anthony Stereoview #3261
Photograph of the ruined Arsenal, Brown's Island beyond. Titled: Panoramic View of Richmond in Ruins, from the Old Arsenal looking down the James River, April 1865. Gardner Stereo #884. Alexander Gardner - photographer.
Small Ammunition Laboratory, Richmond. April 5, 1865. Gardner Stereo #845. Alexander Gardner - photographer.

Written Accounts

Richmond Dispatch 7/4/1861; lengthy (and graphic) account of an explosion near Thomas' Factory and the State Armory which killed local chemist Joseph Laidley
Richmond Dispatch 7/8/1861; word of caution about conditions at the cartridge making facility at Thomas's Factory
Richmond Whig 7/9/1861; description of the "cartridge factory", later the C. S. Arsenal, and cautions regarding safety
Richmond Whig 7/11/1861; percussion caps will be manufactured at Brown's Island
Richmond Dispatch 7/13/1861; description of cartridge making in Thomas' factory, and refutation of the claim that care is not taken there
Richmond Whig 7/22/1861; 370 women and girls are employed making cartridges
Richmond Enquirer 8/2/1861; 200 white girls needed to work at the C. S. Laboratory making cartridges
Richmond Dispatch 8/16/1861; list of donations to the St. Charles Hospital - includes donations from the children at the Lancastrian school, as well as the workers of the C. S. Laboratory
Richmond Examiner 9/27/1861; Fire at C. S. Laboratory
Richmond Enquirer 9/27/1861; fire at the laboratory in Thomas' factory - workers flee, but fire is contained
Richmond Whig 9/27/1861; Fire at the C. S. Laboratory - urges movement of laboratory from a central location for safety reasons
Richmond Dispatch 10/5/1861; 100 women wanted to work at the C. S. Laboratory at 7th and Arch streets
Richmond Enquirer

10/5/1861; 100 white girls needed to work at the C. S. Laboratory, corner 7th and Arch

Richmond Dispatch 10/8/1861; 100 women needed to work at the C. S. Laboratory
Richmond Enquirer 10/12/1861; 100 white girls needed to work at the C. S. Laboratory making cartridges
Richmond Dispatch 1/28/1862; large explosion at Govt. Laboratory, foot of 7th St. - many injured
Richmond Enquirer 1/28/1862; explosion at the Confederate Laboratory
Richmond Whig 1/28/1862; Explosion at the Confederate Laboratory, on Byrd Island
Richmond Dispatch 1/31/1862; none of boys hurt in recent lab explosion. Govt now building storehouse at “upper extremity” of Brown’s Island for fuse work
Richmond Dispatch 2/6/1862; Chas. Schop, age 19 & Jno. Fitzpatrick, age 17, both died 2/4 from injuries at CS Lab explosion
Richmond Enquirer 2/22/1862; immigrant workers at C. S. Laboratory arrested for not taking the oath of allegiance - released after some confusion
Richmond Whig 3/27/1862; man severely injured in an explosion of a shell at the "Laboratory, on Byrd Island"
Richmond Dispatch 5/3/1862; two men badly injured at CS Lab, 7th St, unloading shell
Richmond Enquirer 5/5/1862; reports on victims of an explosion at the C. S. Laboratory
Richmond Dispatch 5/6/1862; W. N. Smith at Confederate Laboratory, 7th & Arch, needs 200 laborers
Richmond Dispatch 6/12/1862; W. N. Smith adv - needs 100 young ladies to make cartridges at C. S. Laboratory
Richmond Dispatch 7/9/1862; man shoots himself in hand in front of Thomas’ Factory, unloading captured arms
Richmond Examiner 7/26/1862; Medical Purveyor's office receives a generous donation from employees at the C. S. Laboratory
Richmond Dispatch 8/2/1862; Capt. W. N. Smith at CS Laboratory wants 200 girls to make cartridges
Richmond Dispatch 8/6/1862; fatal explosion at the C. S. Laboratory on Brown's Island
Richmond Enquirer 8/6/1862; fatal accident at the C. S. Laboratory on Brown's Island - explosion of fulminating powder
Richmond Dispatch 8/8/1862; details of William Pratt, the victim of the recent explosion on Brown's Island
Richmond Enquirer 8/8/1862; correction regarding the city of origin of the man recently killed at the C. S. Laboratory
Richmond Dispatch 10/6/1862; W. N. Smith wants 25 laborers at Richmond Arsenal, Laboratory Department.
Richmond Dispatch 12/16/1862; Capt. W. N. Smith, C. S. Lab., 7th & Arch, adv for 100 girls to “work on cartridges.”
Richmond Dispatch 1/2/1863; Confederate Laboratory has moved to Brown's Island, and 300 females are now working there. Describes the island's prior uses.
Richmond Dispatch 1/5/1863; excellent description of the Confederate Laboratory
Richmond Enquirer 1/6/1863; Excellent description of C. S. Laboratory
Richmond Examiner 3/14/1863; Explosion at C. S. Laboratory
Richmond Enquirer 3/14/1863; Explosion at C. S. Laboratory
Richmond Sentinel 3/16/1863; description and details of the Brown's Island Confederate Laboratory explosion
Richmond Sentinel 3/17/1863; no more deaths from the laboratory explosion - donations for their relief have been pouring in
Richmond Sentinel 3/17/1863; committee appointed to disburse contributions to victims of the Laboratory explosions
Richmond Sentinel 3/18/1863; Mary Ryan, who caused the explosion at the Confederate Laboratory, has died of her wounds
Richmond Sentinel 3/20/1863; another man dies of his wounds after the Confederate Laboratory disaster
Richmond Sentinel 3/21/1863; 14-year old girl dies of her wounds from the Laboratory explosion
Richmond Sentinel 3/26/1863; benefit to be held tonight at the Market Hall for the victims of the Laboratory explosion
Richmond Examiner 4/4/1863; buildings of the C. S. Laboratory have been rebuilt
Richmond Sentinel 4/13/1863; body of a Laboratory explosion victim found in the "race leading to Haxall’s mills." Notes that 50 deaths have thus far resulted from the explosion
Richmond Sentinel 11/24/1863; bake-house, slaughter-house and general store-house are built at the Confederate Laboratory to pay their employees with the output of said buildings
Richmond Whig 4/21/1864; explosion at the Laboratory - percussion caps explode, but no one was injured
Richmond Sentinel 4/21/1864; small explosion occurred in the percussion cap factory on Brown's Island
Trowbridge, John T., The South... 1866 account of the author's travels to Richmond and the adjoining battlefields. Good material on Belle Isle, Brown's Island, Libby Prison, battlefields near the city
Civil War Times Illustrated (Oct. 1982), pp. 36-41. Burton, David L. "Friday the 13th: Richmond's Great Home Front Disaster."

Page last updated on 07/17/2008