A Shenandoah Valley Virginia 3-Pounder Cannon
From the Catherine Furnace Foundry Family’s Superintendent On its original pack saddle ready to display on a saddle tree, the only one Known to Exist!
The action at Catherine Furnace in the lead-up to the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville was a rear-guard action designed to keep Union forces at bay while General Stonewall Jackson was in route to Chancellorsville. Catherine Furnace was the site of an old iron factory built in 1846 and owned by the Forrer family of Virginia which produced cannon, some of which were used in the Mexican as well as Civil War with the furnace having a contract to produce cannon for the Confederacy and local militia. Much of their cannon were shipped down river to Harper’s Ferry for rail delivery to Richmond thus making it an important factory for the war effort. The furnace also produced pig iron and 3 inch canon balls for the Tredegar Cannon Foundry in Richmond.
This remarkable 3-pounder cannon, void of any markings and about the same size as an Ames mountain howitzer, it is the only one known to survive from the time of the foundry’s Civil War operation and was owned by the Forrer family which operated three furnaces in Page County, Virginia during the War. The family had come down from Pennsylvania years before and brothers Daniel and Henry Forrer had operated the furnace as Shenandoah Iron Works where they produced pig iron using coal that had been mined by slaves hired out by Valley owners. This cannon has excellent provenance in that it was descended through the factory’s superintendent, Noah Foltz and purchased from his estate in the 1980s. After the war, most of the slaves stayed on at the furnace and worked for wages. There was only one attempt by Union forces to destroy the furnace when in 1862 the Wisconsin cavalry raided and burned the furnace. The Confederates quickly rebuilt it and restored its production run and a ruin of the foundry still stands today. This the only one known to Exist, the pack saddle tree is Confederate made and captured from Forrest's Cavalry in 1863.