SHOT WORKS in Petersburg Mr. Joseph Doherty has commenced manufacture of shot in Petersburg, Va., and his works are now in successful operation. The steeple of the old Presbyterian Church has been converted into a shot tower, and the proprietor is prepared to drop from two to four thousand pounds per week.
The red X marks the location of the "old Presbyterian Church" where the shot tower was located near the southwest corner of High Street and Market Street..
Detail of copy of an 1856 map by Keily, NARA RG 76.
A shot tower is used for the production of lead balls, primarily for use in shotguns (modern) or muskets (historical). Melted lead is run through a copper sieve of specified dimension and the extruded lead is dropped from the tower. Surface tension forms a ball as the lead drops and the balls are caught in water at the base of the tower. They were checked for roundness by rolling them on a slightly inclined plane, and imperfect examples were remelted. Nineteenth century shot towers still stand in Philadelphia and Baltimore as well as other places in the U.S. and around the world.
We don't know if this shot tower/truncated steeple was used in the Confederate war effort, or if it supplied civilian needs. The bullets used by both armies were formed by molding, but round balls are found in the military context along with the more common molded bullets.
New York Public Library, DP70466, detail of Petersburg from Dunn's Hill in Colonial Heights looking south.