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[14] had been built up into new ones of more or less feeble constitution, cars had been mended until they would hardly hold together, and it may not unreasonably be doubted whether, aside from sources of weakness, this alone might not in a few months more at furthest have put an end to the maintenance of Confederate armies in the field. To keep up the all-important importations through the blockake, the Ordnance Department purchased, as has been stated, its own blockade running steamers, beside contracting largely with private adventurers. It also erected at Wilmington a steam compress for preparing cotton bales for shipment, and it arranged through its agents for the purchase of cotton in the interior, and for its transport by railroad to the ports whence it was to go abroad. And, not only had ordnance officers everywhere great difficulty in securing and keeping their workmen, but they had largely to concern themselves with feeding, clothing and housing them, both the men themselves and not infrequently their wives and children, who were in many cases refugees from parts of the country in possession of the enemy. As an example, several mechanics trained in working the percussion cap machines of the Atlanta arsenal had been brought from Nashville—some of them with their families. When Atlanta was closely assailed by Genl. Sherman, Col. Wright, commanding the arsenal, sent his cap factory and the workmen down to me at Macon, where I had it set up and put to work again as soon as possible. It had been turning out caps for but a short time when a telegram warned me of impending danger to Macon, and as this was the only cap making machinery nearer than Richmond, I was ordered to save it, if possible, and to use my judgment as to whether it should be sent for further use. I decided upon Selma, and had within a few hours to arrange for taking down the machinery, including a 30 H. P. engine, loading it, with the chemical stores, upon railroad cars, and sending all off, with about twenty-five people, including several women and children, with some food to carry them through the very uncertain time of their transit to Selma. On the whole it is perhaps remarkable that there were so few serious accidents and disasters in dealing with dangerous

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M. H. Wright (1)
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