Likewise, in the manufacture of gunpowder the department had determined there should be an improvement.
The sudden strain on the large guns of quick-burning powders had caused some to burst, and the problem confronting the experts was to produce a slow-burning powder that would not cause the great initial strain of the quick-burning kinds, without sacrifice of velocity or range.
As showing the distribution of ordnance supplies at the outbreak of the war, it may be stated there were stored in arsenals in the South
about one hundred and thirty-five thousand small arms of all patterns.
These fell into the hands of the Confederates
, depleting considerably the already small supply for the use of the Union
In verbal reports to the Secretary of War
, about the 23d of April, 1861, the chief of ordnance suggested that, in view of the limited capacity of the arsenals, there should be purchased from abroad from fifty thousand to one hundred thousand small arms and eight batteries of rifled cannon.
There was no immediate action on this request; on the contrary, efforts were made to encourage the private manufacturers in the Northern States
to increase the capacity of their plants.
This, it was foreseen, would lead to an endless variety of arms soon being in use in the service, unless special effort was made to provide a uniform pattern.
model of the United States
rifle was then being manufactured at the armories of the Government
at a cost of a little less than fourteen dollars, and it was estimated that it could be made in private armories for twelve dollars, so that, with a proper margin of profit, it could be sold to the Government
for the cost of manufacture in Government factories.
The United States
musket then, as nearly always since, had no superior in the world.
The patriotic efforts of the States to assist the general Government were well shown by the action of New York in purchasing, early in 1861, twenty thousand Enfield
rifles from England
, with an initial purchase of one hundred thousand