Thursday, April 17, 2008

Battle of Selma Blacksmith

Back in the 1860s, tools were molded and pounded on an anvil by a blacksmith. This "smithy" is showing school children how to make a nail at last year's Battle of Selma Living History Tour. Students from across Alabama annually attend the two-day event, which also features cannon firing demonstrations, 1860's music and sing-a-longs, a tour of Confederate headquarters, a medical tent and flag histories.

To see more photos and the schedule of events, click here.

Update: Abraham Lincoln of the Brookville Daily Photo mentioned this smithy handling these tools with his bare hands. He (Mr. Mott) was on the tour again this year and said he either holds his fingers far enough back from the heated metal or uses tongs.
He also insists he has never combined his blacksmith work with that of a farrier, and apprentices were required to make 450 nails a day. Unlike the industrial North, Mr. Mott said the rural South did not always have barrels of nails although machinery could make them. Village blacksmiths made nails by hand even as late as the 1860s.


Anonymous said...

Blacksmiths were important for a long time in this country and were always busy shoeing horses and some oxen and also fitting metal rims on wooden wheels. To make a nail is something most didn't do as they were sold by the wooden barrels full at the local stores. I suppose they do the nail thing to show how it could be done. But then no smithy in those days would hold whatever they were working on in their bare fingers. LOL

Jim said...

This is a great time of year. The blacksmith would probably love this picture of him, its very good.

Rambling Round said...

Hi Abe. Thank you for sharing this info about the blacksmith. I even remember a blacksmith in my hometown when I was a child.
During the "War of Northern Aggression," the South was short of supplies. Maybe there weren't any barrels of nails left to buy at the local hardware store. Maybe the cavalry needed blacksmiths to keep the horses up and running! Just a thought. I'll ask the Civil War smithy! :)

Rambling Round said...

Abe, in this photo taken at the school tours, the blacksmith related what a young apprentice's day was like and how he began learning how to make the tools of the trade.

Dina said...

Rambling Round, thanks! I used to love to assist the farrier at Heifer Ranch and watch him at the anvil.
Abe, did they really shoe oxen?!

Southern Heart said...

That is a great photo! I'll bet that is interesting to see in person, too.

Steve Buser said...

I remember when our kids were small we were at a museum with a blacksmith. We literally had to drag them away -- they were totally fascinated.

Stephen said...

Dina wrote "Abe, did they really shoe oxen?!"

Yes. Oxen have cloven (split) hooves so it takes two shoes per foot. Also, cattle cannot stand on 3 feet like horses, so the weight of the animal had to be supported in a special (very strong) sling.