Every inducement had been offered to manufacturers to prepare iron of a suitable quality; the highest prices had been offered, and a great many samples had been tested.
Whenever American iron of acceptable quality was presented, it was always used in preference to foreign iron, other things being equal.
The chief of ordnance stated that he had no doubt there was a sufficient quantity of good American material, but up to that time the producer had not furnished it, and a resort to foreign markets was a necessity.
The difficulties experienced with small arms were repeated with the ammunition.
When the Army of the Potomac took the field in the middle of March, 1862, for the Peninsula
campaign, the Ordnance Department held, at the Washington Arsenal
, sixteen million five hundred thousand rounds of smallarms ammunition, for five different kinds of arms, in reserve.
This ammunition was for smooth-bore muskets, caliber .58; foreign muskets of various makes, caliber .577, and nondescript, unclassified muskets, caliber .54.
For carbines and pistols of various kinds, one million rounds were in reserve.
For artillery there were sixty-four thousand two hundred projectiles for three kinds of 6-pounders, three kinds of 12-pounders, and one kind each of 10-, 20-, 24-, and 32-pounders.
The mere mention of these various classifications is sufficient to indicate the strain under which the department was laboring.
But this task was met and well done, for history seldom records a shortage of ammunition that could be traced to the ordnance officers.
In February, 1863, there were on hand in the ordnance armories and arsenals nearly one hundred and thirty-seven million rounds of small-arms ammunition, and up to that time, since the opening of the war, nearly fifty-five million pounds of lead had been purchased for use in making bullets.
The development of rifled cannon was in an experimental stage when the war opened.
There had been a decided movement toward the adoption of these guns in 1859, simultaneously