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Ironmaker to the Confederacy: Joseph R. Anderson and the Tredegar Iron Works Hardcover – October 1, 1999
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"...the author is talented and the book designer inspired, the result is very agreeable." -- Virginia Quarterly Review <br /><br />"Effectively arranged and, most gratifying, presneted in a singularly easy prose style ... [a] first-rate industrial history." -- American Historical Review <br /><br />"Makes a solid contribution to an understanding not only of the rise and fall of the Confederacy..." --Journal of American History
About the Author
Charles B. Dew is professor of history at Williams College and author of Bond of Iron: Master and Slave at Buffalo Forge.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Tredegar Iron Works were largely the creation and the "thing" of Joseph Reid Anderson, a West Point graduate, and the course of their respective lives are difficult to separate. However this book is not a biography of Anderson but a complete industrial history of the company before ( it was created in the 1840s as a partnership), during and after the Civil War ( it still existed when the author wrote his book, in the 1960s, but what about 2003 ?). It examines in detail the questions of markets, production, transport, political lobbying, finance, labour force and raw materials, i.e all the practical aspects of the company's life. The contents are largely qualitative rather than quantitative; this is not "economic history" in this meaning of the word but "industrial history"; numbers illustrate the subject as much as other material, they are not the subject.
The author was able to draw upon an extremely extensive documentation on all those aspects, which contributed enormously to the outstanding quality of the work.
As said before, the status of Tredegar as the biggest if not the only sizable iron works in the South in 1861 give its history a special meaning. The Tredegar made nearly all the large guns that were used by the confederacy and were not either imported through the blockade ( a limited portion only) or captured from the US army ( essentially in the first two years of the conflict). It also made the armour for the famed Ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimac).
As such, its history shows very clearly the challenges facing the confederacy in its struggle against the much mightier Union. It shows how inadequate were all resources available to the South combined with policies applied by the confederate government. Of particular interest are the subjects of raw material shortages, crumbling railroad networks and industrial slave labour. The bibliographical essay at the end of the book will also be very useful to anyone interested to dig deeper into the subject of the industrial economy of the Southern Confederacy. Other books have been published afterwards that certainly also deserve a look. For more info please refer to my review of " Confederate Industry" by Harold S. Wilson (published in 2002). Reading a book like "Ironmaker to the Confederacy" can also lead to look for information about confederate finance, confederate shipbuilding, confederate railroads, confederate armories. Excellent books are available to cover those very interesting subjects.