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[11] but later recourse was had for making percussion caps and friction primers to the turpentine stills scattered through the pine forests of North and South Carolina. Really important results were produced in 1862 and ‘63 in the development of the iron ores of the country, particularly in Alabama, unconsciously laying the foundation for this great industry as it now exists. The Nitre and Mining Bureau under Col. St. John, partly by its own officers and partly through contractors, opened mines, erected furnaces and rolling mills, and turned out large quantities of iron of superior quality. But before this work had got well underway much care was taken in the collection of shot and shell, and of scrap iron of all kinds. During the bombardment of Charleston, as a heavy Parrott shell came down, the little street urchins were to be seen ready for a rush to claim it, or its fragments if it burst, in order to claim payment for the iron at the arsenal. Much ingenuity was shown by a few skilled mechanics in constructing with but poor appliances special machinery for ordnance purposes, such as the rolling, punching and forming of percussion caps, the drawing the tubes for friction primers, the ‘squirting’ of lead rods, and making pressed bullets, etc. Much labor was spent, but success never achieved, in drawing the copper cylinders for small-arms, cartridges. Careful search for trained mechanics was made throughout the country and among the army in the field, and details for ordnance service were made on proper evidence of the value of such service, great pains being often necessary to prevent any mere evasion of military duty. Some attempts were made to import mechanics from Europe, but with practically no success. Every effort was made to convert unskilled into skilled labor by the teaching of the few who were already themselves trained. From time to time, under stress of necessity, some poor makeshift materials had to be substituted for better ones. At one time, for instance, the supply of nitric acid for making fulminate for caps had been exhausted, and two or three million caps had to be issued which were charged with a mixture of potassium chlorate and sulphur. These did fairly well if kept dry, but soon became untrustworthy in damp air, so that an

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I. M. Saint John (1)
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