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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Confederate Laboratory

by Daniel W. Barefoot, 2006

Confedorate Laboratory marker # O-40. Image courtesy of NC Historical Markers, North Carolina Office of Archives & History. The Confederate laboratory, located two miles south of Lincolnton in Lincoln County, was one of at least five laboratories established by the Confederate States of America to manufacture drugs from indigenous plants. The other known facilities were located in Tyler, Tex.; Augusta and Macon, Ga.; and Columbia, S.C. Although the actual date of construction is unknown, the Lincoln County laboratory was in operation by 24 Aug. 1863. The original building was an oblong brick structure that stood on the banks of the South Fork River.

Strict secrecy was maintained at the facility, and an aura of mystery surrounded it. Lt. A. P. James and the men of Company A, McCorkle's Battalion, North Carolina Senior Reserves, were assigned to provide security for the site. Because of the tight security and the local availability of saltpeter and charcoal, some historians have speculated that the Lincoln County laboratory may also have been used for the production of gunpowder.

Laboratory, a small community south of Lincolnton, took its name from the facility.




L. A. Crowell, "Historic Medicine," Southern Medicine and Surgery (June 1933).

John R. Friday, "Dr. A. Snowden Piggott and the Laboratory Facility," Carolina Confederate 8 (1993).

Image Credit:

Confedorate Laboratory marker # O-40. Image courtesy of NC Historical Markers, North Carolina Office of Archives & History. Available from (accessed May 25, 2012).

Additional Resources:

NC Historical Markers:


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