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[520] have for some of the positions we were anxious to arm at once. This supposition proved correct; and, on the 6th of October, Colonel Ritchie concluded a contract with the Cavmore Iron Company for fifty of these guns, at the extremely low price of £ 20 per ton, which were finished within six weeks, and at once shipped for the United States. Of the twenty-two guns contracted to be delivered by Captain Blakely by the middle of September, but four were finished Oct. 1. Difficulties had been encountered at every step in the manufacture of those five guns of large calibre. Colonel Ritchie availed himself of Captain Blakely's failure to comply with the contract, to so modify it, as to provide, that in place of the eighteen guns not delivered, which were to have had the cases or spindles of cast-iron, we should receive twelve guns wholly of steel; the experience already obtained being decisive in favor of the stronger material. Instructions were afterwards sent out to Colonel Ritchie, authorizing him to contract for a further supply of the Blakely guns to the full amount of the appropriation; but he reported that he was convinced no larger number could be delivered within a year, and that the constant improvements being made in the manufacture of the material, and component parts, would enable the State to secure better guns quite as rapidly under contract made at a future period, if they should still be required. These views were confirmed by the delays which afterwards occurred in the completion of the guns already ordered. But three 11-inch and four 9-inch guns had been delivered, when the altered aspect of the war rendered it advisable to cancel the contract, to which Captain Blakely was very ready to agree, as the guns cost him more than he was to receive for them, while he found ready purchasers, at increased prices, among other foreign powers.

When Colonel Ritchie was upon the point of returning to the United States, it was brought to his knowledge that a certain number of Armstrong guns might be secured; and he was able to make a contract for them on terms which left it optional with the State to accept the contract or not. The State did ratify and adopt it; and these five guns were finished in due time, but never shipped to America.

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