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[134] repulsed by inferior numbers. Of this an eye-witness said, “The head of the column, as it was pushed on by those behind, appeared to melt away or sink into the earth, for though continually moving it got no nearer.” In the West, it was found that a regiment armed with the Spencer was more than a match for a division armed with the old Springfield. In 1863, the Winchester was patented, and was an improvement over the former models of repeaters — and from that time to the end of the war these and kindred types were greatly sought after by new regiments going to the front.

During the first part of the war, so great was the demand for muskets that Secretary Stanton approved a recommendation of the chief of ordnance on August 8, 1862, for a somewhat lenient interpretation of the contracts with private establishments delivering small arms. General Ripley stated that it had been found impossible to hold contractors to the literal, strict compliance with all the terms of their contracts. In view of the fact that contractors had expended large sums for equipping their factories, and having in mind the urgent need for great quantities of small arms, as close an inspection at the private factories as in the United States armories was not carried on. Arms were not rejected for small blemishes not impairing the serviceability of the weapon. The main points insisted on were that they should be of standard caliber to take the Government ammunition, and that the stocks, barrels, locks, and other essential parts should be of the strongest quality. Otherwise, the matter of acceptance or rejection was left in the hands of the inspector.

The greatest difficulty was experienced in securing iron for the manufacture of small arms and cannon. Up to August, 1862, a sufficient quantity of American iron could not be procured, and the department was forced to buy abroad. On August 8th of that year, the Secretary of War was informed by the chief of ordnance that the use of American iron was what the ordnance officers were striving for without success.

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