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Organization.

The Ordnance Bureau, as finally organized, consisted of one Brigadier-General, one Colonel, and of such additional number of fieldofficers, Captains, and First Lieutenants as the service required.

They were artillery officers on ordnance duty. [90]

Appointments to these positions were at first made by selection, on nomination by the Ordnance Bureau; but about October, 1862, Congress created fifty officers of artillery especially for ordnance duty, to which two hundred more were subsequently added. As selection for these offices involved much political contrivance, I obtained the order of the Secretary of War to hold examinations for appointment to the grade of Captain and First Lieutenant. This plan succeeded entirely, and relieved us from a thousand personal solicitations. The first examination was held at Richmond. Of some five hundred applications found on file for ordnance officers, less than one hundred came to the examination, and of these only some forty or fifty passed. The examination for Captain involved a fair knowledge of a college course of mathamatics, and none, I believe, passed this except the M. A.'s of the University of Virginia. That for First Lieutenant embraced only an ordinary English education, with a full examination on the Ordnance Manual. This gave us an excellent set of officers—educated men; and although a few of them were, as was said, ‘Virginia school-masters,’ and cannot be said to have distinguished themselves professionally, yet they were all respectable on account of their education; and I am sure there never were in any army a better class of such officers.

These examinations were extended, and were held at the headquarters of each army in the field by a commission, of which Lieutenant-Colonel Le Roy Broun and Lieutenant-Colonel S. Stansbury, Colonel T. A. Rhett and Major J. Wilcox Browne were the chief members. These, or one of them, went to an army and associated with themselves one or more officers detailed by the General at headquarters. In order to provide for that class of valuable officers distinguished for excellent qualities developed by service on the field, but not prepared for a somewhat technical examination, each General of an army designated one or two of this class, who were appointed on his recommendation alone.

Officers in the field were distributed as follows: To each army a ‘chief ordnance officer,’ with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel; to each army corps, an ordnance officer with the rank of Major; to each division a Captain, and to each brigade a First Lieutenant: all these attached to the staff of their respective Generals, but reporting also, directly if necessary, to the ordnance officer, through his superior, in the field, and receiving instructions as to special duties through the same channel. Every regiment had an ordnance Sergeant, charged with the care of the ordnance wagon, which contained the spare arms and the ammunition of each regiment. [91]

The officers in command of the greater ordnance establishments— such as Richmond and Augusta, &c.—had the grade of Lieutenant-Colonel, like the ‘chief ordnance officers’ of armies in the field, while at the lesser establishments the officers had rank according to the gravity of the duties devolving on them.

The Superintendent of Armories, Lieutenant-Colonel Burton, and the Superintendent of Laboratories, Lieutenant Colonel Mallet, had also the grade of the higher officers on duty in the field.

The labors and responsibilities of my department closed practically at Charlotte, North Carolina, on the 26th of April, when the President left that place with an escort for the trans-Mississippi. My last stated official duty, that I can recall, was to examine a cadet in the Confederate service for promotion to commissioned officer. On the afternoon of the 25th of April I received due formal notice from the Adjutant-General's office that General Lawton, Quarter master General, General Gilmer, Chief Engineer, and I were constituted a Board of Examiners on Cadet——. We met a little before sundown, in the ample upper story of a warehouse in Charlotte, North Carolina, and by the waning light of the last day of the Confederate Government, we went through all the stages of an examination of an expectant Lieutenant of the Confederate armies. Lawton, I think, took him on geography and history, Gilmer on the mathematics, while I probably tested his English grammar. He passed the ordeal in triumph and got his commission, which I dare say he prizes very highly, as he ought to do, considering the august body that signed the certificate which pronounced him qualified for it. Altogether there is no little incident in my Confederate career that I have mused over oftener than that twilight examination of the last Confederate cadet.


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