“Melt the Bells”


From the Richmond Daily Dispatch April 1, 1862:

To the patriotic — the value of Church Bells.

The Ordnance Bureau of the Confederate States the use of such bells as can be spared during the war, for the purpose of providing light artillery for the public defence. While copper is abundant, the supply of deficient to convert the copper into bronze. Bells contain so much tin that 2400 pounds weight of bell metal, mixed with the proper quantity of copper, will suffice for a field battery of six pieces.

Those who are willing to devote their bells to his patriotic purpose will receive receipts for them and the bells will be replaced, if required, close of the war, or they will be purchased at prices.

Bells may be directed as follows: …

The Government will pay all charges to these places, and receipts will be promptly returned to the proper parties.

Persons and congregations placing their at the service of the Government, are requested to send a statement of the fact, with a description and weight of the bell, to the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance at Richmond, for record in the War Department.

From the same issue:

Patriotic example.

–The congregation of the Second Baptist Church in this city have set an example that may challenge emulation, but for self-sacrificing patriotism cannot be excelled. They met not long since and by unanimous vote gave their church bell to be cast into cannon to be sued in the public defence. To show that this was not an empty promise made for effect, they immediately had it taken down to be put to the use indicated. At the same meeting at which the resolution above stated was passed, it was determined to subscribe and such sufficient to purchase enough metal to add to that in the bell to form into a battery to he called the Second Baptist Church battery. Mr. John F. Tanner, and influential member of the church, and largely engaged in the foundry business, promised on behalf of himself and associates that the battery should be ready at an early day, and without cost to those who furnished the material. The churches in New Orleans (a large proportion of them being Catholic) have, with the sanction of their Bishop, adopted the same course.

It is said that in 1862 General Beauregard came up with the idea of using church bells to make cannon. “Melt the Bells” was a poem published in the Memphis Appeal.

Richmond’s Second Baptist Church supports the Dispatch article: “During the Civil War the church assisted the Confederacy in many ways, from preparing bedding and bandages, to donating the steeple bell and selling the pew cushions, to furnishing some members to defend the city.”

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