On this day 150 years ago, an explosion occurred at a cartridge plant known as the "Confederate Laboratory." In the picture above, the "Laboratory" can be seen on Brown's Island--the small white buildings under the trees. Here's how John B. Jones recorded the initial report of the event in his diary.
March 13th.—To-day a great calamity occurred in this city. In a large room of one of the government laboratories an explosion took place, killing instantly five or six persons, and wounding, it is feared fatally, some thirty others. Most of them were little indigent girls!In the left foreground is the Virginia Manufactory of Arms, which was used to manufacture the "Richmond Rifle" during the war using machinery captured at Harper's Ferry. In the right foreground is the roof of the Tredegar Iron Works' rolling mill, where the armor plate for C.S.S. Virginia and several other confederate ironclads was rolled.