Introductory note by Colonel William Allan.
McDonough, Md., January, 1884.Probably no better illustration of the difficulties which lay in the way of organizing and supplying the large armies kept in the field by the Confederate Government, and of the skill and energy by which these difficulties were surmounted, is to be found than in the history of the Confederate Ordnance Department. A full account of its operations would constitute one of the most creditable and interesting chapters in the history of the Confederacy. Much of the data for such a narrative has perished, and what remains is widely scattered. It has been proposed to save what is left by means of a series of ‘Contributions to the History of the Confederate States Ordnance Department,’ to consist of such facts as surviving officers of that Department may be able to furnish. It is greatly to be regretted that General Gorgas, to whose energy, zeal, and executive ability, more than to any other one cause, the remarkable efficiency of the Ordnance Department was due, did not prepare a full narrative of its operations. His lamented death prevented this, and deprives us of the further service he might thus have added to a most honorable and useful career. Among his papers were found, however, the following most valuable historical memoranda. Mrs. Gorgas has kindly consented to the publication of this paper, with the statement that these notes were informal, and not intended by General Gorgas for publication in their present unfinished shape. We believe that even in its present shape this paper contains the best and most reliable sketch of the work of the Confederate Ordnance Department that is now attainable. It is offered as the first of the ‘Contributions,’ with the hope and expectation that subsequent papers may supplement and fill out subjects too briefly touched upon by General Gorgas.