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In 1861 Gorgas found only Tredegar Ironworks in Richmond producing necessary hardware of warcannons. Tredegar also produced pig iron. Old Dominion Nailworks, also in Richmond, was converted to manufacture of war material. Other ironworks in South also converted. Gorgas did not wish to risk losing all Southern manufacturing if Richmond (only l00 miles from Washington) was captured by Federal army. He built new armories across the South, including one at Selma that functioned until Federal troops destroyed it in April l865. As Federals invaded and seized a factory, the rest continued production. Gorgas also secured ships to run the blockade of the southern coastline and sent agents overseas to buy arms to be shipped on blockade runners. Men who served under him in Ordnance Bureau became the next generation of teachers of chemistry, physics, engineering, and math in southern schools after the war, including one who became president of what is now Auburn University.
He met and married Amelia Gayle while stationed at Mt. Vernon, north of Mobile, in l853. They had 6 children. After the war he did not succeed in business because of the depressed economic condition of the postwar South. At the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, he reorganized the school and saved it from bankruptcy. Still he failed to fulfill the overly optimistic expectations of Sewanee trustees, and they fired him in l878. After his election as president of the University of Alabama, he suffered a disabling stroke after only six months in Tuscaloosa and had to resign as president. The university made him university librarian and gave him a residence on campus. At his death in 1883 the university made his wife, Amelia, librarian, a job she continued until retirement in 1907. She lived in the Gorgas House until her death in 1913, and her children lived in the house until the last daughter died in 1953.