From the Richmond Whig, 7/4/1861
ANOTHER EXPLOSION AND LOSS OF LIFE. - About 12 o'clock, M., yesterday, persons in the vicinity of the armory were startled by a loud explosion, which many at first supposed to be the discharge of heavy ordnance, but it turned out that the report was caused by the explosion of detonating powder, in a shed, situated upon the slope of a hill, in rear of the Armory. This shed was erected for the manufacture of the powder to be used in charging the percussion caps made in this city. The preparation of this dangerous material was undertaken by Mr. Joseph Laidley, a young and popular chemist of Richmond, who has been industriously engaged for some time past in the prosecution of the enterprise, with the assistance of a young man, from Manchester, named Robert B. Clayton. Those who first arrived at the scene of the explosion, were shocked by the sight which presented itself. The shed was a complete wreck, the planks having been scattered in every direction, and upon the mass of rubbish, the mangled remains of Mr. Laidley were found - his head, right arm and left hand having been blown off, and his right thigh dreadfully lacerated by the explosion. Mr. Clayton was found lying a short distance off, in an insensible condition, but without any mutilation of his body. He was borne to the factory near by, occupied by the cartridge makers, and was soon visited by Drs. Tucker and Conway, who ministered to his relief; but up to a late hour in the afternoon he had not been restored to consciousness. The physicians state that his injuries are confined to the effects of the concussion, which prostrated the nervous system. It is, therefore, confidently believed that he will recover.
Mr. Laidley's remains were conveyed to a building adjoining the cartridge factory. In the afternoon, the removal of some of the planks, at the place of explosion, led to the recovery of his watch - the crystal and minute hand of which were missing. The hour hand pointed nearly to 12 o'clock. The unfortunate deceased was well known in this city, as a member of the late firm of Laidley & Robinson, druggists, at the corner of Franklin and 4th streets. He was, until recently, when his business pursuits required his undivided attention, an active member and officer of the Young Men's Christian Association. He leaves a young wife to mourn his untimely end.