rounds of ammunition.
This was followed by an inquiry made of the chief of ordnance
to ascertain whether the same ammunition could be manufactured in the Government
arsenals, for issue to the troops armed with the Enfield.
Necessarily, the answer was “No,” and the chief of ordnance
, on June 17, 1861, reported to the Secretary of War
that the issue of “fancy” arms to troops about to be mustered into the service of the United States
was highly undesirable.
By the end of December, 1861, however, it was found that the capacity of the various arsenals of the Government
was not equal to the great output necessary, and that the practice of buying by contract had to be recognized to a great extent.
The States had already sent troops for service armed with numerous patterns of rifles, and it was impracticable to rearm all of them.
On January 25, 1862, the chief of ordnance reported to Secretary Stanton
that, under the administration of his predecessor, Secretary Cameron
, it had been tentatively decided to have, if possible, but one caliber of rifles, and to cause the necessary changes to be made to accomplish this.
It was found that there were in the arsenals but ten thousand rifles of .58-inch caliber, the standard size deemed best for the military service, and it was decided to ream up to that size all arms of less caliber.
The Government shops
were working to their utmost capacity, and could not make the alterations without serious injury to the necessary business from an interruption of the operations and consequent diminution of the output.
Certain private firms took over all the small arms that were to be changed, paid the Government
a price almost equal to the original cost price, reamed them to the standard size, put on sword-bayonets, and returned them to the Government
at a slight advance, sufficient to cover the cost of the work and give a small margin of profit.
Thereby, the service secured a supply of arms that would take the regulation ammunition.
The consensus of expert opinion at the time inclined toward the use of the muzzle-loader in preference to