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[718] this infamous ring of contractors and middlemen, and turned over their books and papers to me for examination. I employed additional clerks, had ledgers, invoice, letter, requisition, check and deposit books analyzed, and one of the great sensations of the day was the reading to the United States Senate by Mr. Grimes, of Iowa, of — a tabulated exhibit of Stover's profits on oil contracts during one year. Without having bought a gallon of “best winter strained sperm oil,” such as his contracts called for (and despite his taking the same at one dollar per gallon, when the market price stood at two dollars), he had realized a profit of one hundred and seventeen thousand dollars on the year's transactions! What he had supplied to the Brooklyn yard was horse fat, menhaden, and other stinking fish oils, etc. The inspectors who passed it, and the engineers who used it, can best explain why it happened.

Regular dealers, as Mr. Dodge tells us, in oil, in sheet copper, in block and plate tin, spelter, timber, machinery, boiler felting, clothing, and every description of naval supplies, were crowded out of competition by these dishonest middlemen, and a general demoralization of public officials prevailed. My experience in the War Department made me wary about beginning a campaign against such a rich and formidable ring of contractors as I immediately discovered to exist, without full assurance of the support of the department. This came in the shape of the following letter:

Navy Department, Washington, February 18th, 1864.
Sir:--Your letter of the 17th instant is received. Unless otherwise directed, from information which you shall obtain, you can pursue the course deemed most advisable from your experience. The department has no political object in these inquiries. The Secretary has directed me to carry forward this matter in conjunction with yourself, and I have never been in political life. You may rest assured, and such information may be given to witnesses, that the guilty will be exposed and punished without regard to influence or position.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

[Signed] G. V. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy. To Colonel H. S. Olcott, Special Commissioner, Navy Department.

No one could ask more. In fact, no subordinate ever had a more honorable, untiring, prompt or patriotic superior than I found, for the next year and a half, in Assistant Secretary Fox. An attempt was made at one time to make political capital out of an alleged expression of his in a letter to me, that a certain naval court-martial “was organized to convict.” The only thing Mr. Fox ever said (in response to my particular request that the court to try these New

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