|The Tredegar Iron Works in 1865 by Alexander Gardner.|
Before and during the American Civil War, it was the custom in Richmond, Virginia for industries to rent slaves from their owners by the year starting in January. Anticipating a high demand for labor in the coming year of 1864, the owner of the Tredegar Iron Works placed an early advertisement for slaves in the October 28, 1863 edition of Richmond's Daily Dispatch. The advertisement hints at the scale of Tredegar's operations--not just the iron works themselves; Tredegar's included coal mines and blast furnaces to supply fuel and iron.
Wanted--1,000 negroes.Because of the strenuous nature of the work done by the Tredegar's workers, the owners of the works lobbied the Confederate government for guaranteed supplies of food for its workers. As a result, Tredegar's workers--white and black, free and slave--ate much better than most Richmonders during much of the war.
--We wish to hire for the year 1864, one thousand Negroes, to be employed at the Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, and at our Blast Furnaces in the counties of Rockbridge, Botetourt, and Alleghany, and Collieries in Goochland and Henrico, for which we are willing to pay the market prices.
Having made arrangements for a supply of provisions and clothing, we can safely promise that servants entrusted to us shall at all times be well fed and clothed.
Our furnaces and other works are located in healthy sections of the country, remote from the enemy's line, offering unusual inducements to the owners of negroes to send them to us.
We would be glad to hear from those whose hands we have hired this year as early as possible, as to rehiring them another year, and whether they desire that the hands shall be sent home or retained under our protection at the end of the year.
J R Anderson & Co,
Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Va.