Tellico Iron Works Gripped in the War's Iron Fist

Throughout the Civil War, both sides depended on the iron industry for vitally important munitions. The Tellico Iron and Manufacturing Company, then located one mile east, caught the attention first of the Confederate army and eventually of Union Gen. William T. Sherman himself. In 1843, Elisha Johnson, former mayor of Rochester, N.Y., and his brother Ebenezer Johnson (died 1849) purchased the Tellico Iron Company. Established in 1824 amid rich deposits of brown hematite, it produced what was touted as "the finest grade of iron ore in the world." After the war began, the high quality of Johnson's iron influenced the Confederacy to seize his company. Col. H.B. Latrobe supervised the works to ensure that Johnson's Union sympathies did not affect the production.