From the Richmond Whig, Saturday, 5/16/63

Disastrous Fire.

DESTRUCTION OF THE CRENSHAW WOOLEN MILL AND A PORTION OF THE TREDEGAR FOUNDRY. – One of the most destructive fires which has visited our city for years past, occurred yesterday morning about 2 o’clock. The large mill of the Crenshaw Woolen Company, situated on the south side of the Canal, took fire, and was totally destroyed, together with all its valuable machinery, and a portion of Anderson & Co’s. Tredegar Foundry, adjoining on the west. The city and country around were lighted to the brightness of mid-day, and the fresh breeze blowing at the time sent volumes of sparks far away through the night, presenting a spectacle of sublime grandeur which is seldom witnessed. The fire originated in the picking room, where the machinery was kept running day and night, and was caused by friction. The operatives, it is said, were so paralyzed by fright as to be unable to give the alarm for some time; though we hear from other sources that the force-pumps were set in operation, but failed to do any service, because the hose were too short to throw water to the spot where the flames were raging. The Crenshaw Mills were insured or $171,500, in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama offices.

One deplorable effect of this calamity is that one hundred and forty operatives, male and female, are thrown out of employment.

The buildings destroyed at the Tredegar Works consist of a portion of the machine shops and blacksmith shops, and one of the buildings in which gun-carriages were finished. A large number of old patterns were consumed, but the gun patterns were saved, together with the new building for the casting and the machinery for boring the guns; and this operation will be resumed in a few weeks. The rolling mills and spike factory, as well as the foundries for casting shot, shell and railroad wheels, and all the ordnance on hand, were saved.

The property was partially covered by insurance, in the following offices: Mutual Assurance Society, Richmond Fire Association, Virginia Fire and Marine Insurance Company, Old Dominion Insurance Company, Merchants Insurance Company, and Alabama Insurance Company. (Montgomery.)

The Crenshaw Mill was a brick building, five stories in height, and the walls are now all that is left. The work of manufacturing woolen cloth was carried on here by a joint stock company, mostly for the Government.

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