Report from the Fort21 January 1802 · Major J. J. Ulrich Rivardi
The Blacksmith shop, a brick building, two fires, 20 feet by 19 - very good.
In 1776 the Committee of Safety of the Delaware River ordered a "Smith Shop and Forge" to be built on Mud Island. This might be the building - rebuilt after the Revolution and described by Rivardi. One fireplace was removed in the 20th century, but the chimney shows its former location. When a blacksmith is on duty, the restored bellows blast the fire into a hot flame and the anvil rings from the sound of the smith's hammer.
Blacksmiths in coastal fortifications were necessary for all metalwork associated with artillery, gun carriages, buildings, and utensils. Shoeing horses was less frequent. Muster rolls from 1812 show that some soldiers were trained as blacksmiths, but a civilian from a nearby farm could also have done the job.
Buildings needed nails, spikes, latches, hinges and often metal straps - all products of the blacksmith's trade. The shutter hinges, straps for the heavy timber roof of the Citadel, the iron grates in the windows of the Arsenal, and the balustrade on the Officers' Quarters were probably all created by the blacksmiths of the fort. Metal pins, nails, handles, wheels for cannon carriages, and repairs for small arms would also have been made here until the regulated production of army ordinance in the 1840s.
When you go into the blacksmith shop, look up at the rafter construction. Notice that metal was not always the main method for holding timbers together.
Between 1835 and 1839 when restoration of the entire fort was undertaken, laborers were hired to live and work at Fort Mifflin. The 1836 accounts show the number of days work and wages paid. Brick work was extensive but cheap:Laying 72,690 bricks in the scarp walls?..$263.65
Cleaning 93,000 brick to repair the scarp walls??$65.90