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 In this emergency, it was concluded to render available, if possible, some of the copper, turpentine and apple-brandy stills which still existed in North Carolina in large numbers. Secretly, with the approval of the Chief of Ordnance, an officer was dispatched with the necessary authority to purchase or impress all copper stills found available, and ship the same, cut into strips, to the Richmond Arsenal. By extraordinary energy, he was enabled to forward the amount necessary for our use. The strips of copper of these old stills were rerolled and handed over to the cap manufacturer. And thus were all the caps issued from the arsenal and used by the armies of the Confederate States, during the last twelve months of the war, manufactured from the copper stills of North Carolina. After the completion of the cap-machines, which were an improvement on the old United States machine, eight hands only, two being men, the others boys and girls, frequently manufactured from the strip copper over 300,000 caps, within eight hours, stamping, filling, preparing and varnishing them. These cap machines thus had a capacity of producing a million a day. These caps made at the arsenal were frequently tested, and pronounced to be superior in resisting effects of moisture and in general efficiency. For the completion of these machines, the Confederate Government awarded the inventor—an employee of the arsenal—the sum of $125,000, being an equal to $2,000 in gold. To manufacture the fulminate of mercury, we needed nitric acid and mercury. A quantity of mercury was obtained early in the war from Mexico. To make nitric acid we required nitre and sulphuric acid. The sulphuric acid we manufactured in North Carolina, after many failures and difficulties, especially in obtaining the lead to line the chambers. Nitre was made by the Nitre and Mining Bureau, especially organized for that purpose. Everywhere about the environs of Richmond could be seen large earthen ricks and heaps which contained dead horses and other animals, designed for use in the manufacture of nitre. The available earth from caves was also made to yield its quota of nitre. With this sulphuric acid and nitre, on the banks of the James river, we manufactured the nitric acid required in the manufacture of fulminate. 24
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