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Development of the arsenals, armories and other places of manufacture of Ordnance stores.

The arsenal at Richmond soon grew into very large dimensions, and produced all the ordnance stores that an army may require, except cannon and small arms in quantities sufficient to supply the forces in that part of the field. I have by accident preserved a copy of the last number of the Richmond Enquirer, published under Confederate rule. It is dated April 1st, 1865, and contains the following ‘Statement of the principal issues from the Richmond arsenal, from July 1st, 1861, to January 1st, 1865:’

341 Columbiads and seige guns (these were made at the Tredegar works, but issued from the arsenal); 1,306 field-pieces, made chiefly at Tredegar works or captured; 1,375 gun carriages; 875 caissons; 152 forges; 6,852 setts of artillery-harness; 921,441 rounds field, seige, and sea-coast ammunition; 1,456,190 friction primer; 1,11 0966 fuzes; 17,423 port-fires; 3,985 rockets; 323,231 infantry arms (most of these were turned in from the army, from battle-fields and from the Richmond armory); 34,067 cavalry arms (same remark); 44,877 swords and sabres (from army, battle-field and contractors); 375,510 setts of infantry and cavalry accoutrements; 180,181 knapsacks; 328,977 canteens and straps; 72,413,854 small arm cartridges; 115,087 gun and carbine slings; 146,901,250 percussion caps; 69,418 cavalrysad-dles; 85,139 cavalry-bridles; 75,611 cavalry halters; 35,464 saddleblankets; 59,624 pairs spurs; 42,285 horse-brushes; 56,903 currycombs.

This ‘statement’ appears as an editorial, but the items were furnished from the office of the arsenal, and may be relied on. Its Commandant at this time was Lieutenant-Colonel LeRoy Broun, of Virginia. In the items of cavalry-saddles, bridles, harness, infantry accoutrements, canteens and other articles of this character much assistance was received from contractors. A small part of the percussion caps also came from other arsenals. When we reflect that the arsenal grew to these great dimensions in a little over two years, it must be [82] confessed that good use was made of the time. The laboratory attached to the arsenal was well conducted and did much work. It covered the island known as Green Island, which was connected with the shore by a bridge, built by the Engineer Department, especially for the service of this laboratory.

Besides the cap machinery, which was a very large and improved plant, machinery for pressing balls, for driving time fuzes, for drawing friction primers and metallic cartridges, and other labor saving machines were invented, made and used with effect. In all respects the establishment, though extemporized, and lodged in a cluster of tobacco warehouses, was equal to the first-class arsenals of the United States in extent and facilities.

The arsenal of Augusta, Ga., was in great part organized in the city, where suitable buildings were obtained, and did much the same class of work done at Richmond, though on a smaller scale. It was very serviceable to the armies serving in the South and West, and turned out a good deal of field artillery complete, the castings being excellent. Colonel George W. Rains, in charge of arsenal and powder works, found that the fusion of a small per cent. of iron with the copper and tin improved the strength of the bronze castings very much.

The powder mills at Augusta, Ga., which I have already mentioned as the direct result of the order of President Davis, were wonderfully successful and never met with serious accident—a safe indication of the goodness of its arrangements. It showed, too, that under able direction the resources of Southern workshops and the skill of its artisans had already become equal to the execution of great enterprises involving high mechanical skill.

The arsenal and workshops at Charleston were also enlarged, steam introduced, and good work done in various departments.

The arsenal at Mount Vernon, now furnished with steam power and having a good deal of machinery, was considered out of position after the fall of New Orleans, and was moved to Selma, Ala., where it grew into a large, well-ordered arsenal of the best class, under the charge of Lieutenant-Colonel White. It was relied on to a great extent for the equipment of the troops and fortifications in the southern part of the Confederacy.

Attracted by the deposits of fine ore immediately north of Selma, made accessible by the Selma, Rome and Dalton Railroad, the War Department accepted the proposition of Mr. Colin McRae to undertake the erection at Selma of a large foundry for the casting of cannon of the heaviest calibre. A large contract was made with him and [83] advances of money made from time to time as the work progressed. After a time Mr. McRae was called on by President Davis to go abroad in connection with Confederate finances. He made it a condition that he should be relieved of his works and contract at Selma without pecuniary loss to himself. The works were thereupon assumed by the War and Navy Departments jointly, and placed at first under the charge of Colonel Rains as general superintendent, while an officer of less rank took immediate charge. Subsequently it was agreed by the War Department that the Navy should take sole charge and use the works for its own purposes. It was here that Commander Brooke made many of his formidable banded and rifled guns.

The foundry and rolling-mills then grew into large proportions, supplied by the iron and coal of that region. Had the Confederacy survived, Selma bid fair to become the Pittsburgh of the South. The iron obtained from the brown haematite at the furnaces in Bibb county (Brierfield), and from the Shelby Works, was admirable, the former being of unusual strength.

Mount Vernon Arsenal was still continued, after being in a great measure dismantled, and was utilized to get lumber and timber for use elsewhere, and to gather and prepare moss for making saddle-blankets.

At Montgomery shops were kept up for the repair of small arms, and for the manufacture of articles of leather, of which some supplies were obtained in that region.

There were many other small establishments and depots, some of them connected immediately with the army, as at Dublin, Southwest Va.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Jackson, Miss. Some shops at Lynchburg, Va., were moved to Danville, near the south line of Virginia, and it grew into a place of some value for repairs, &c.

The Ordnance shops at Nashville had been hurriedly transferred to Atlanta, Ga., on the fall of Fort Donelson; and when Atlanta was seriously threatened by the operations of Sherman the Arsenal there, which had become very important, was moved to Columbus, Ga., where there was the nucleus of an Ordnance establishment. Colonel M. H. Wright soon made this nearly as valuable as his arsenal at Atlanta had been.

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