Wilmington, home to the state’s manufacturing and trading center at the junction of the Brandywine and Christiana, had woolen mills and other industrial establishments dependent on water power. “Much of the gunpowder fired by the Union military came from the E.I. Dupont & Co.’s Hagley Mills,” said Reed. Harland and Hollingsworth completed three monitors plus several gunboats, while their competitor Pusey & Jones launched an additional half-dozen gunboats.
Below the canal and west of the railroad was a rural, agrarian society of farmers and water men, said Reed. Lower Delaware industries consisted of small shipyards at Milford and Milton and local grist mills.
Kent and Sussex, although geographically larger than New Castle County, were definitely rural. Subsistence farms predominated, especially in Sussex, where farmers made enough cash to pay taxes by selling native pine for building timber to be used in Philadelphia, said Reed. Delaware Bay watermen and fishing vessels home ported at Lewes in Sussex County served as the exception to the rural norm. New Castle, Seaford, Laurel and Milford were hotbeds of Confederate sympathizers.
This story was first published in the News Journal under the byline of Gail A. Sisolak. All rights reserved.