Bibb Naval Furnaces/Brierfield Furnaces
Posted by: OHail
N 33° 02.352 W 086° 56.897
16S E 504829 N 3655633
Quick Description: The principal iron producer for the Confederate foundry at Selma where naval guns and ironclads were made. Now part of Brierfield Ironworks Historical State Park.
Location: Alabama, United States
Date Posted: 1/20/2012 7:54:34 PM
Waymark Code: WMDJHK
In 1861, Caswell Campbell Huckabee of Greensboro and Jonathan Newton Smith of Six Mile joined with Samuel Green Wilson of Tuscaloosa County, J.D. Nance of Bibb County and Gray Huckabee of New Bern to develop the Brierfield Furnace on land near the Little Cahaba River. It was initially known as the Bibb County Iron Company. A 36-foot tall stone blast furnace was built followed by a rolling mill in 1862. Cast iron was originally produced, but soon wrought iron was made because it was more profitable.
The Brierfield furnace supplied iron to local farmers who needed the iron for farm implements but soon began supplying iron to the Confederate government. The iron was a perfect quality for use in casting heavy cannons. The Confederate government attempted to contract for 100% of the ironworks’ output, but the owners declined. This led to the Confederacy pressuring a sale of the Bibb County Iron Company to the Confederacy for $600,000 in 1863. Included in the deal were nine slaves, seventy mules, forty-one oxen, twenty carts, twenty wheelbarrows and two hundred axes. It was renamed the Bibb Naval Furnace.
The Bibb works supplied iron for the Confederate arsenal at Selma during through the summer and fall of 1864 and the winter of 1865. It was used to cast heavy Brooke cannon and plating for Confederate ironclads.
The Brierfield Ironworks operated on a large scale until March 31, 1865, when Major General James H. Wilson targeted it as part of his raid through Alabama and Georgia. Colonel Frederick Benteen was sent with the 10th Missouri Cavalry to demolish the operation at Brierfield.
After the war, former Confederate Chief of Ordnance Josiah Gorgas operated the furnaces for a time. There were a few other owner/operators of Brierfield before the furnace blew out on December 24, 1894. That combined with the invention of the wire nail, ended production of iron at Brierfield.
Please post a photo of you or your GPS with the iron furnace ruins.