From the Richmond Dispatch, 1/5/1863, p. 1

The Confederate States Laboratory Department. - Since the advent of the present war, 7th street, west of the Petersburg Railroad bridge, has become a place of much interest, the buildings comprising the Laboratory Department of the Confederate States being located there. A visit to these buildings is full of interest, for we can there get a good insight into the preparations which are being daily made to discomfit the invaders of our country. In addition to a dozen large warehouses, used in preparing munitions of war, a village has sprung up on Brown's Island, where over three hundred girls are daily employed. A handsome bridge, constructed across James river, leads to the island, across which is conveyed the ordnance stores to and from the storehouses. The island, being owned by an alien enemy, will doubtless pass permanently into the possession of the Government. Work in all the houses is pushed forward with untiring vigor, the Sabbath something, in times of urgency, not being spared. The Laboratory Department is divided into the following branches, viz: No. 1, for the manufacture of percussion caps, friction primers, fuzes, signal lights and rockets, war rockets, &c.; No. 2, for the manufacture of chemicals; No. 3, for the manufacture of small arm cartridges; No. 4, for fixing and packing artillery ammunition, the red boxes denoting case shot, the black, shell, the olive, shot and canister, by which means the artillerist has no trouble on the battle-field in laying his hands on what he needs; No. 5, for sea-coast defence ammunition. In this department may be seen some monster balls and shells, among which are some steel wedges, intended to bore through the Monitor. No. 6, for pistol and breech-loading ammunition. It is said that the works of the Confederate Government exceeded in completeness and capability those of the United States. This state of affairs has only been brought about by the most perservering assiduity on the part of those entrusted with the important work of getting them up. The Laboratory Department is under the charge of Capt. W. N. Smith, formerly in the employment of the United States, who was called from Washington by Gen. Dimmock to establish a Laboratory Department for the State in Richmond, and has been in the performance of the duties since February 1st, 1861. The State works were afterwards turned over to the Government. The State and Confederacy were badly off at first for ammunition or the means to make it. There were no buildings, tools, materials, or operatives. At first a small number were employed, who were practically instructed until they could be entrusted with the completion of the work. Next the Laboratory tools were gotten up, the department organized, and the number of operatives, as the necessity arose, increased to six hundred The works have never failed to respond to a call for ammunition, despite the disadvantages under which the Superintendent has always labored.

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