On November 9, 1861, Confederate vice president Alexander H. Stephens visited the Wilmington Arms Factory and “made a spirited address” while holding a sword and lance. He promised to carry the weapons to other parts of the Confederacy to show others what “the Old North State was doing.”
Louis Froelich and a partner opened the factory that month, offering swords, bayonets, lances and bowie knives. They soon renamed the company “C.S.A. Arms Factory.”
By the summer of 1862, Froelich was sole owner of the factory. A yellow fever epidemic that July killed most of his workers, and a fire the following February destroyed the main building. Shortly afterwards, Froelich moved his remaining operations to Kenansville. Three months later, a Federal expedition burned the factory to the ground.
Froelich rebounded, and by November 1863 the factory was again operational. Today, Froelich swords, of which only a few dozen are known to remain, are some of the most rare and valuable Confederate artifacts.
Other related resources:
- The Civil War on NCpedia
- North Carolina and the Civil War from the N.C. Museum of History
- The North Carolina Sesquicentennial Committee