it would not be possible to hold Norfolk, Va., and the United States navy would soon take possession of the fort and navy yard. So naval officers were sent to the interior in the spring of 1862 to select a site to which all the valuable movable property in the navy yard would be taken. They came along the only railroad then far enough inland to be safe, and reached Charlotte, N. C, on their mission. Both the officers, Capt. W. D. Murdaugh and I think Capt. Wm. Parker, were old friends of my husband, Capt. John Wilkes, during his fourteen years' service in the United States navy (1841-1854) and of course he met and welcomed them.
"On talking about their request he showed them a place he had recently purchased, lying about 600 feet along the railroad, with loo feet frontage on East Trade street. This they thought exactly suited to the purpose, far enough inland to be safe from attack by sea and lying on the only railroad which connected Richmond with the Southern States of the Confederacy. So the Confederate government bought the property on promise to pay for it.
"A large quantity of material and coke ovens, foundry and machine shops were erected. A wooden landing stage was built from the yard to the railroad for convenience in loading and unloading. This was carried as far as the back of the brick building on East Trade street, near College street, to facilitate the movement of naval stores, and was then and for many years afterward called 'The Navy Yard wharf.' Subsequently it gave the name to all the cotton districts about College street, which has always been known even to this day as 'The Wharf,' an enduring reminder of the navy yard in Charlotte."No large guns were cast there, according to the testimony of Capt. Ashton Ramsay, who now lives in Baltimore, and who has given us much information on the subject. He told of a large trip-hammer, which was part of the machinery brought from Norfolk, and which was a great curiosity here. I well remember Capt. Wilkes taking me to see it work. With one blow it flattened a mass of iron, and the next the ponderous mass came down so gently as only to crack an egg placed under it.