A Bavarian mechanic, Louis Froelich immigrated first to England and traveled later across the Atlantic to the United States. After working in New York City, he traveled southward and started his entrepreneurial activities in Wilmington, North Carolina. There, he earned the nickname the “Sword Maker for the Confederacy.”
When war came to the South, Froelich understood that the conflict offered profit-making opportunities. In Wilmington, in particular, Froelich started working as a foreman at the North Carolina Button Manufactory in April 1861. In late 1861 with a Colonel B. Estvan (who was later exposed as a fraud), Froelich started the CSA Arms Factory which later moved to Kenansville, North Carolina and provided the Confederacy with a significant amount of sabers and swords.
After the public and Froelich learned that Estvan (whose real last name was Raussey) had lied about his military experience in Hungary, Froelich severed ties with the imposter and alone rehabilitated his Wilmington company’s reputation and offered the Confederacy military innovations that were so far ahead of its time that the Confederate government refused to offer him a contract (see CSA Arms Factory). After a yellow fever epidemic killed many armory workers and a fire destroyed a large part of the factory, Froelich moved his operations to Duplin County. Froelich overcame another economic hardship; a Union raid destroyed much of his factory and its production in late 1863. Shortly afterward, however, Froelich’s manufactory produced weapons for the Confederacy. In the end, Froelich is mainly noted for his armory’s mass production sabres and swords.
When the smoke of war had cleared, Froelich remained in Kenansville and farmed. His horticultural exhibits and scuppernong wines earned accolades. During the 1870s, he and his family moved to Halifax County, where he died in October 1873.
William A. Albaugh III and Carl Puguese, Confederate Edged Weapons (San Jose, reprint, 1996); Tom Belton, “Recent Acquisitions: Rare Sword Enhances Collection,” The Cornerstone, IV (1996); CSA Sword Factory Foundation, “History” http://www.csaofkenansville.org/ (accessed December 7, 2008); Robert J. Cooke, “Sheathed in Mystery: Louis Froelich and the Confederate States Armory, Kenansville and Wilmington, North Carolina,” manuscript, Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina; North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program, Confederate Arms Factory http://www.ncmarkers.com/Markers.aspx?ct=ddl&sp=search&k=Markers&sv=F-27%20-%20CONFEDERATE%20ARMS%20FACTORYLeon H. Sikes, “The Swords of Kenansville,” Footnotes,, LVIII (1995).