Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Arsenals of Democracy

The U.S. Arsenal in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was strategically situated -- and far enough inland via the Cape Fear River to protect it from, say, a British naval raid a la the War of 1812. However, secessionists seized the arsenal grounds in late April, 1861, and its armory production machinery was bolstered with equipment and personnel transferred from the former United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) by Confederate authorities. 

Wars cannot be waged without weaponry; hence, during the American Civil War, the Fayetteville Arsenal was geared up to produce ammunition, equipment and "The Fayetteville Rifle" -- about 10,000 of them for the Confederacy, according to the above display at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex, 801 Arsenal Avenue, Fayetteville.   
There's another Fayetteville connection to the Harpers Ferry Armory and Arsenal -- Lewis S. Leary (1835-1859). A free black man, he migrated, in 1856, to Oberlin, Ohio, a more hospitable place than Fayetteville in terms of race relations and in its rejection of slavery. Leary participated in the attack on Harpers Ferry orchestrated by John Brown, between October 16 and 18, 1859. The idea was to seize the arsenal and distribute weapons to slaves, thereby initiating a mass uprising and guerrilla war against slave owners. Leary was mortally wounded in the resultant fighting. 

In the photo above, Lewis S. Leary reminds me of Jimi Hendrix. 

Leary's wife Mary remarried and was directly related to Langston Hughes (1902-1967). Those of Leary's family still in North Carolina 
 after the Civil War became very active US citizens. One of Lewis' younger brothers, an early Howard University graduate, founded Shaw University's Law School. (Shaw was created after emancipation as the Raleigh Institute, became the Shaw Collegiate Institute and then, in 1875, Shaw University).

[This display at Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum, 325 Franklin Street downtown].   
Fayetteville Arsenal Payroll. If you click on the image, it will enlarge and perhaps become easier to read in full.  

The left side reads thusly: Arsenals in the North and South employed women and girls to roll and fill cartridges. They were preferred for these jobs because their smaller hands made them more dexterous and efficient, and they could be paid less than men.

Women paid less than men for the same work? Really? 
Pictured here via the Cape Fear Historical Complex: Spyglass. Officer's Valise. Compass. Belonged to Colonel William Lamb, Commander of Fort Fisher, 1862-1865. Fort Fisher, near Wilmington, North Carolina, is a whole 'nother ballgame to consider -- in a future post, I suspect.

Today's Rune: Gateway. 



Charles Gramlich said...

Brings back memories of when I was originally learning about these events in history classes. Always enjoyed those classes.

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