Footsteps of History
Ohatchee's location on the bank of the Coosa River led to a minor role in the Civil War, The confederates hoped to use Janney Furnace, built just north of Ohatchee, to provide pig iron for the south. But a 2,300 man Calvary force under Union Gen. Lovell H. Rosseau advanced to Calhoun County in July 1864 and knocked the furnace out of commission.
Janney furnace had been built by Montgomery manufacturer, Alfred Janney, in mid-1863. He was in the area buying iron ore for another of his furnaces when he noticed brown ore on the ground under a ridge about a mile north of Ohatchee. There is much speculation as to whether Janney Furnace was ever operational. None of the sandstone lining the circular chimney is blackened from smoke, which should be the case of a functional furnace. The furnace was constructed with the labor of about 200 slaves, with sandstone for construction quarried in the area. Janney shipped equipment and machinery from his furnace in Montgomery to be used at the site. After Union soldiers burned workers' shacks and demolished about 25 feet of the brick chimney that capped the stone furnace, construction was resumed, but was not completed by the end of the Civil War. Janney sold the land and returned to Montgomery, and the machinery that remained rusting around the furnace was sold for scrap.
Written by Katherine R. Dougan and printed in the "Anniston Star" on 5 July 1999.
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