HOLMBERG: Girls who died here in Civil War munitions factory blast to be remembered

Posted at 11:44 PM, Jul 18, 2012
and last updated 2013-03-13 11:41:42-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- Among the 13 new state historical markers just approved by the Department of Historic Resources is one commemorating the Civil War munitions factory explosion in Richmond that killed 50 or so young girls who worked there.

Some were as young as 11, assembling or disassembling percussion caps, friction primers, signal lights, rockets, all things explosive for the southern cause.

The plant had been on 7th Street on the shoulder of the city overlooking the James River. After a number of explosions, they moved the plant to Brown’s Island – to isolate it – 150 years ago.  They hired 300 young girls to do the work. The young men were off fighting the war. Their families needed the money.

The explosion came on March 13. 1863 – Friday the 13th – it was one of the worst industrial accidents in the nation’s history. Not only was it a horror locally, the terrible explosion shifted the winds of war.

And it was one of the most devastating springs in Richmond history.