Whitfield, Bradley & Co., Cannon and Munitions Manufacturer

At the onset of the Civil War, the South had few ironworks capable of producing cannons. Confederate Chief of Ordnance, Josiah Gorgas, noted, “. . . we were not making a gun, a pistol nor a sabre, no shot nor shell . . .” This situation rapidly changed, and Clarksville’s Whitfield, Bradley & Co. became one of several Tennessee manufacturers casting cannons for the Confederate army. To meet the demand for munitions, foundries quit making stoves, kettles, and agricultural implements, and retooled so that they could produce cannon, shot, and shell. Starting in June 1861, Whitfield, Bradley & Co. cast several six- and nine-pounder guns (the numerical designations refer to the weight of the projectiles they fired), and in early 1862, they began to fabricate twelve-pounder howitzers. The guns were tested for their accuracy by firing them at a tree across the Cumberland River. The Clarksville Jeffersonian wrote that “Whitfield, Bradley & Co. are turning out some beautiful cannon.”

  • The South had no munitions manufacturers before the war
  • Few ironworks were able to produce cannons
  • Whitfield, Bradley & Co. had previously made kitchen and farm implements