Colonel James W. Ripley
was appointed to be chief of ordnance in April, 1861.
He was an officer of long experience, and under his able direction the department, for the first two and one-half years of the war, sustained the great burden of arming and equipping the immense armies that were suddenly raised for tile prosecution of the conflict.
During previous years of peace, nearly seven hundred thousand muskets had been ordinarily on hand in the various Government arsenals, but even this number had been allowed to diminish, so that the store of muskets of all kinds, on October 30, 1860, was about five hundred and thirty thousand, distributed among the arsenals of the country, there being at no one place more than one hundred and thirty thousand.
As this supply of arms was applicable to the army, the navy, the marine corps, and the militia, it was evidently not great, especially in view of the emergency.
Furthermore, there had been a sale of a considerable number of old-pattern muskets, but this sale was stopped, in order not to deplete the supply too seriously.
During 1860, the apportionment of Government arms to the various States for arming their militia was carried on under an old law, that of 1808, but, on account of the small number on hand, only 14,615 were distributed.
The allotments were made in proportion to the number of senators and representatives in Congress.
Distribution of equipments, other ordnance, and ordnance stores was also made on the same basis to the States.
By the latter part of 1860, there were thirteen arsenals, two armories, and one depot for the manufacture and safe-keeping of ordnance and ordnance stores.
This was a period of much technical development in the manufacture of cannon, and in consequence of proposed changes in the mode of casting guns, very few were made during the year.
Large quantities of iron for gun-carriages, however, were provided, and preparations were made for very active work in the beginning of