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Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 12. (ed. Reverend J. William Jones), Contributions to the history of the Confederate Ordnance Department. (search)
y the President to import these and other ordnance stores from Europe; and Major Caleb Huse, a graduate of West Point, and at that moment professor in the University nent. About December, 1861, arms began to come in through the purchases of Major Huse, and we had a good many Enfield rifles in the hands of our troops at Shiloh, which were received in time for use there through the blockade. Major Huse had found the market pretty well cleaned of arms by the late war in Europe, but he had suc the purchases, it was soon found advisable to own and run our own steamers. Major Huse made the suggestion also from that side of the water. Accordingly, he purcha per month, for want of hands. To supplement this scarcity of operatives, Colonel Huse was authorized to engage for us a number of skilled workmen, used to work on Pensacola, Yorktown, Charleston and New Orleans. About the close of 1863, Major Huse sent in two Blakely rifles of about thirteen-inch calibre, splendid looking,
Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 12. (ed. Reverend J. William Jones), Arsenals, workshops, foundries, etc. (search)
t to powder and our means of making it, we had, perhaps, at this time (June 1st, 1861,) 250,000 pounds, chiefly cannon, at Norfolk and in Georgia, and as much more nitre (mainly imported by the State of Georgia). We had no powder-mills, except the two rude ones just referred to, and no experience in making powder or in getting nitre. All had to be learned. As to a further supply of arms, steps had been taken by the President to import these and other ordnance stores from Europe; and Major Caleb Huse, a graduate of West Point, and at that moment professor in the University of Alabama, was selected to go abroad and secure them. He left Montgomery under instructions early in April, with a credit of 10,000 (!) from Mr. Memminger. The appointment proved a happy one; for he succeeded, with a very little money, in buying a good supply, and in running the Ordnance Department into debt for nearly half a million sterling—the very best proof of his fitness for his place, and of a financial
Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 12. (ed. Reverend J. William Jones), Progress of manufacture. (search)
uncheon could be levelled, and the sword, liberated from the compression of a strong spring by touching a trigger, leaped out with sufficient force to transfix an opponent. About December, 1861, arms began to come in through the purchases of Major Huse, and we had a good many Enfield rifles in the hands of our troops at Shiloh, which were received in time for use there through the blockade. Major Huse had found the market pretty well cleaned of arms by the late war in Europe, but he had succMajor Huse had found the market pretty well cleaned of arms by the late war in Europe, but he had succeeded in making contracts with private manufacturers, of which these arms were the result. I will not attempt to trace the development of our work in its order, as I at first intended, but will note simply what I can recollect, paying some attention to the succession of events. The winter of 1861-1861 was the darkest period of my department. Powder was called for on every hand—Bragg, at Pensacola, for his big ten-inch Columbiads: Lovell, at New Orleans, for his extended defences, and espe
Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 12. (ed. Reverend J. William Jones), Bureau of foreign supplies. (search)
Bureau of foreign supplies. It soon became obvious that in the Ordnance Department we must rely greatly on the introduction of articles of prime necessity through the blockade ports. As before stated, President Davis early saw this, and had an officer detailed to go abroad as the agent of the department. To systematize the introduction of the purchases, it was soon found advisable to own and run our own steamers. Major Huse made the suggestion also from that side of the water. Accordingly, he purchased and sent in the Robert E. Lee at a cost of 300, 000, a vessel capable of stowing six hundred and fifty bales of cotton. This vessel was kept running between Bermuda and Wilmington, and made some fifteen to eighteen successive trips before she was finally captured—the first twelve with the regularity of a packet. She was commanded first by Captain Wilkinson, of the navy. Soon the Cornubia, named the Lady Davis, was added, and ran as successfully as the R. E. Lee. She had the c
Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 12. (ed. Reverend J. William Jones), Armories and small arms. (search)
rifle-musket (calibre 58), retained at Richmond, got to work as early as September, 1861. If we had possessed the necessary number of workmen this plant could have been so filled in as to have easily produced 5000 stands per month, working night and day. As it was, I don't think it ever turned out more than 1,500 in any one month. Fayetteville did not get to work until the spring of 1862, and did not average 400 per month, for want of hands. To supplement this scarcity of operatives, Colonel Huse was authorized to engage for us a number of skilled workmen, used to work on small arms, and to pay their passage over. They came in through the blockade at Wilmington without difficulty, but we could do nothing with them. They had been engaged to be paid in gold, which meantime had risen to such a price as to make their pay enormous, and would have produced utter disintegration among our own operatives. I offered to pay one-half of the wages promised them in gold, to their families in
Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 12. (ed. Reverend J. William Jones), Detached observations. (search)
heavy calibre for points, the defence of which against men of-war, was of vital importance. But the ten-inch Col umbiad could only be cast at the Tredegar Works, and although this establishment was in able hands and responded nobly to the calls made upon it, yet tasked as it was to produce artillery of all calibres; especially field-artillery, we could but slowly answer the appeals made with equal vehemence from Pensacola, Yorktown, Charleston and New Orleans. About the close of 1863, Major Huse sent in two Blakely rifles of about thirteen-inch calibre, splendid looking, superbly mounted, and of fearful cost! 10,000 for the two in England, with fifty rounds each. Charleston claimed them on their arrival at Wilmington, and I was glad to strengthen General Beauregard's hands. Unfortunately one of them cracked in some trial firing, with comparatively weak charges. The full charge which was never reached, was fifty pounds of powder, and a solid rifle-shell, of say 450 pounds. Thes