previous next

[70] Alabama and in Tennessee—in the latter State under the energetic supervision of its Ordnance Department. An adequate supply of sulphur was found in New Orleans, where large quantities were in store to be used in sugar-refining. The entire stock was secured, amounting to some four or five hundred tons.

The erection of a large powder-mill was early pressed by President Davis, and about the middle of June, 1861, he directed me to detail an officer to select a site and begin the work. The day after this order was given Colonel G W. Rains, a graduate of West Point, in every way qualified for this service, arrived in Richmond, through the blockade, and at once set out under written instructions from me to carry out the President's wishes. He, however, went first to East Tennessee to supervise and systematize the operations of two small private mills, which were then at work for the State of Tennessee.

Thus, in respect to powder and our means of making it, we had, perhaps, at this time (June 1st, 1861,) 250,000 pounds, chiefly cannon, at Norfolk and in Georgia, and as much more nitre (mainly imported by the State of Georgia). We had no powder-mills, except the two rude ones just referred to, and no experience in making powder or in getting nitre. All had to be learned.

As to a further supply of arms, steps had been taken by the President to import these and other ordnance stores from Europe; and Major Caleb Huse, a graduate of West Point, and at that moment professor in the University of Alabama, was selected to go abroad and secure them. He left Montgomery under instructions early in April, with a credit of 10,000 (!) from Mr. Memminger. The appointment proved a happy one; for he succeeded, with a very little money, in buying a good supply, and in running the Ordnance Department into debt for nearly half a million sterling—the very best proof of his fitness for his place, and of a financial ability which supplemented the narrowness of Mr. Memminger's purse.

Before this, and immediately upon the formation of the Confederate Government, Admiral Semmes had been sent to the North by President Davis as purchasing agent of arms and other ordnance stores, and succeeded in making contracts for, and purchases of, powder, percussion caps, cap machinery (never delivered), revolvers, &c. He also procured drawings for a bullet-pressing machine, and other valuable information.

The sets of machinery for making the rifle with sword bayonet, and the rifle-musket model of 1855, had been seized at Harper's Ferry by the State of Virginia. That for the rifle-musket was being

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
R. W. Memminger (4)
Jefferson Davis (4)
O. J. Semmes (2)
W. Rains (2)
Montgomery (2)
Caleb Huse (2)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 1st, 1861 AD (2)
June, 1861 AD (2)
1855 AD (2)
April (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: