Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Setting Up a Navy Yard in Charlotte, 1862

1877 map of Charlotte, "Carolina Central R.R.,"
"R.M. Oates," and Hutchison were the location 
of the Charlotte Navy Yard from 1862-1865
If you happen to be in Charlotte, North Carolina, be sure to stop by and read North Carolina's Historical Marker "L-56/Confederate Navy Yard."  The sign is near the Charlotte Transportation Center/Arena Station on Front Street.   Other than the sign, there is nothing left to indicate that one of the more important pieces of Confederate Navy infrastructure used to stand there.  At first glance, one would think that Charlotte would be an odd place to set up a navy yard.  After all, navy yards are supposed to be linked to water.  Ideally, yes.  But, as with many aspects of the Confederate States Navy, a combination of necessity and shortages birthed innovation. 

The idea to set up shop in southwest North Carolina  came from H. Ashton Ramsey, chief engineer of the late CSS Virginia.  With Union ground and naval forces moving in on Gosport Navy Yard, Ramsey had his men pack up as many industrial tools and machines they could carry and load them onto rail cars.  Working with ordnance expert John Brooke, the two men identified an abandoned machine shop located on the main line of the North Carolina Central railroad.  Most important to Ramsey, it was safe from interference of both Union ground and naval forces.

 After convincing the property owner to sell on a promise to pay when the war ended, workers from Gosport immediately started unloading several pieces of heavy industrial equipment.  The workers’ families arrived a short time later.  Many of the families settled down permanently in Charlotte after the war. 

For the rest of the war, Ramsey’s men manufactured and assembled several shafts, propellers, ordnance, and torpedoes for use by the Confederate Navy.   Most of the parts were used in building mid to late war ironclads such as CSS Virginia II, CSS Albemarle, CSS Georgia, and CSS TennesseeRead more about the operations of the yard here.
CSS Albemarle, one of several ironclads whose parts were assembled by the Charlotte Navy Yard


  1. The statement is in error: "The idea to set up shop in the North Carolina's capital . . . ."

    Charlotte is not, and has never been, the capital of North Carolina. That designation belongs to Raleigh.

  2. Thank you for catching that! Change has been made.