1863 · Charleston, S.C.
Theodore T.S. Laidley (1822-86) born in Virginia, was a long-time ordnance officer. After the Mexican-American War, he served as Assistant Ordnance Office at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and was then made Commander of the Charleston Arsenal in South Carolina. In 1858, the Army's Chief of Ordnance placed Laidley on detached service to write a new ordnance manual. His comprehensive manual was reprinted several times and served as an essential guide for ordnance officers in both the North and South during the Civil War. Laidley himself remained with the Union at the outbreak of the war, and was initially appointed mustering officer for New Jersey. He then took command of the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia, and was tasked with expanding wartime ordnance manufacturing.
The career of Josiah Gorgas (1818-83) followed Laidley's closely, with the ironic difference that while Laidley was born in Virginia and remained loyal to the Union, Gorgas was born in Pennsylvania but sided with the Confederacy. Like Laidley, Gorgas also served in the Mexican-American War and upon return to the U.S., was also assigned to Fort Monroe. It is likely that the two knew each other. Gorgas was commander at the Frankford Arsenal at the outbreak of the war, and supported secession. He left Philadelphia for Richmond and was appointed Chief of Ordnance for the Confederacy. In that role, he was one of the heroes of the Confederate war effort. James McPherson, noting the relatively weak pre-war manufacturing capabilities of the South, writes: "The Ordnance Bureau was the one bright spot of Confederate supply....Gorgas proved to be a genius at organization and improvisation. He almost literally turned plowshares into swords."
An excellent copy of an essential wartime manual. PARRISH & WILLINGHAM 2491. CRANDALL 1382. McPherson, BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM, pp.319-20. (Inventory #: WRCAM55470)