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Shoemakers' Tools and Andersonville

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by AndyHall, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. AndyHall

    AndyHall Colonel Forum Host

    Dec 13, 2011
    Some years back, while working on the Denbigh Project, we came across this letter in the OR, that directed a shipment of shoemaker's tools to Captain R. B. Winder at Americus, Georgia. The infamous prison camp at Andersonville, Camp Sumter, is just a few miles outside of Americus. Captain Winder was the Assistant Quartermaster there; I presume he is the son or other close relative of General John Winder.

    Richmond [Virginia]
    April 15, 1864

    Capt. R. B. WINDER
    Assistant Quartermaster, Americus, Ga.:

    Sir:: I hope you are making some progress in establishing a shoe shop at Americus, Ga. Major Dillard has reported that he will supply you with leather; Major Cunningham, at Atlanta, that he will send to you an experienced man to aid in the organization of the shop, and Major Hillyer, at Selma, that he has forwarded a lot of shoemakers' tools, &c. The steamer Denbigh has fortunately just arrived at Mobile with a large lot of shoemakers' tools and findings, and Major Barnewall, the depot officer at that point, has been instructed to send you all you may require.

    These arrangements, it is hoped, will make quite a productive establishment at Americus. It is of the greatest importance that the production of army shoes should be increased, so you must spare no effort to attain success. Do not be discouraged by rumors of exchange. Nothing is ever certain on that point, and it may be that inducements can be held out that will content the competent shoemakers to remain. Should ever a general exchange be resumed you can compensate them fairly for their services and in such a form as may prove most acceptable, and I have been assured that the unclaimed packages forwarded from the other side will in time be devoted to such as may elect to remain for a while and continue their labor. Report progress.

    By order of Quartermaster-General:

    W. B. B. CROSS,
    Major and Quartermaster.
    The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series II, Vol. 7
    My emphasis. We found this interesting in two respects -- first, that government cargoes arriving through the blockade were being routed to specific destinations by a central command in Richmond, and second, that Cross was in the process of creating a shoe factory that would employ Federal PoWs. Even if prisoner exchanges resumed, Major Cross wrote, Winder should encourage the men to stay behind with pay and other inducements "to remain for a while and continue their labor."

    Anyone know about this proposed shoe factory employing Union PoWs at Americus?
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
    Tom Elmore likes this.

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  3. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

    Jan 16, 2015
    Interesting. I was previously only aware of three shoe manufacturing centers, including one in Richmond, Virginia, and Columbus, Georgia, which employed skilled tradesmen detailed from among the ranks of the Confederate army. A third was located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, run by Major Henderson M. Bell, a Quartermaster who organized the existing factories in the valley from his base in Staunton. Bell's daily production of shoes amounted to 150-200 pairs, besides an equal quantity of sets of clothing.
    DaveBrt and AndyHall like this.

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