Selma, Alabama: 1862. Unbound. This one-page manuscript purchase order was placed with the Shelby County Iron Manufacturing Company, Alabama by a Confederate Ordnance Department agent at the Selma Ordnance and Naval Foundry on September 29, 1862. There is some marginal computational docketing related to the purchase. No mailing envelope. In nice shape.
In placing this order for a total of 24,600 running feet of square and round iron needed to complete the construction of “Iron Clad floating batteries now being built at Mobile,” the agent notes that
“I am requested by Genrl Forney to impress on you the urgent necessity of securing the safety of Mobile and to ask you to put this through as soon as possible. . ..
And in conclusion he directs that
“The balance of Mr Bassetts order had better deferred until the above is fulfilled”. Very good. Item #009926
Following the fall of New Orleans in April 1862, Mobile became, arguably, the most important open port for the Confederacy, and the center of blockade running in the Gulf of Mexico. Its defense fell under the overall command of then Brigadier General John Horace Forney who was the commander of the Departments of Alabama and West Florida and the District of the Gulf Department No. 2.
Three land forts defended the port, and plans were made to provide a defensive naval fleet consisting of three traditional sidewheel gunboats and eight iron clad vessels. Unfortunately for the Confederacy, only the CSS Tennessee was floated down the Alabama River in time to fight in the main engagement of the Battle of Mobile Bay, where Union Rear Admiral David Farragut lashed himself high up in the rigging of his flagship for a better view of the fight and issued his famous command, "Damn the torpedoes. Four bells, Captain Drayton. Go ahead, Jouett, full speed." Two other Selma ironclads, the CSS Tuscaloosa and the CSS Huntsville, arrived in time to defend the city of Mobile but were too late too late to fight in the main battle in the lower bay.
(For more information see “American Civil War: Blockade and the War at Sea” at the History of War website, Sifakis’s Who Was Who in the Civil War, and various articles (“Selma Ordnance and Naval Foundry,” “Shelby Iron Works Park,” “CSS Huntsville,” “CSS Tennessee,” and “CSS Tuscaloosa”) at the online Cyclopedia of Alabama.).