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Manufacture of infantry, Artillery and cavalry equipments.

In equipping the armies first sent into the field the supply of these accessories was amazingly scant; and these deficiencies were felt more keenly, perhaps than the more important want of arms. We had arms, such as they were, for over 1000,00 men; but we had no accoutrements nor equipments; and these had to be extemporized [78] in a great measure. In time, knapsacks were little thought of by the troops and we at last contented ourselves with supplying haversacks, which the women (Heaven reward their labors) could make, and for which we could get cotton cloth. But cartridge boxes we must have: and as leather was also needed for artillery harness and for cavalry saddles, we had to divide the stock of leather the country could produce, among these much needed articles. But soldier's shoes were even more needed than some of these; so that as all could not be fully provided, a scale of preference was established. Shoes and cartridge boxes were most needed, and then saddles and bridles. The President, whose practical sagacity was rarely at fault, early reduced these interests to logical sequence. He said, ‘For the infantry, men must first be fed, next armed, and even clothing must follow these; for if they are fed and have arms and ammunition they can fight.’ Thus the Subsistence Department had in a general way, a preference for its requisitions on the Treasury; my department came next, and the Quarter-master's followed. Of course the Medical Department had in some things the lead of all, for its duties referred to the men themselves, and it was necessary first of all to keep the hospitals empty and the ranks full.

To economize leather, the cartridge boxes and waist-belts were made of prepared cotton cloth, stitched in three or four thicknesses. Bridle-reins were also so made, and even cartridge-boxes covered with it, except the flap. Saddle-skirts, too, were sometimes made in this way, heavily stitched. An ardent admirer of the South came over from Washington to offer his patent for making soldiers' shoes with no leather except the soles. The shoes were approved by all except those who wore them. The soldiers exchanged them with the first prostrate enemy who no longer needed his leathern articles. To get leather, each Department bargained for its own hides—made contracts with the tanner—procured hands for him by exemption from the army—got transportation over the railroads for the hides and for supplies—and finally, assisted the tanner to procure food for his hands, and other supplies for his tannery. One can readily see from this instance how the labors of the heads of the departments became extended. Nothing but thorough organization could accomplish these multiplied and varied duties. We even established a fishery on the Cape Fear river to get oil for mechanical purposes, getting from the sturgeon beef at the same time for our workmen.

In cavalry equipments, the main thing was to get a good saddle— one that did not ruin the back of the horse; for that, and not the rider's seat is the point to be achieved. The rider soon accommodates [79] himself to the seat provided for him. Not so the animal's back, which suffers from a bad saddle. We adopted Jenifer's tree, which did very well while the horses were in good condition, and was praised by that prince of cavalrymen, General J. E. B. Stuart; but it came down on the horses backbone and withers as soon as the cushion of fat and muscle dwindled. The McClellan tree did better on the whole, and we finally succeeded in making a pretty good saddle of that kind—comfortable enough, but not as durable as the Federal article. In this branch of the service, one of the most difficult wants to supply was the horseshoe for cavalry and artillery. The want of iron and labor both were felt. Of course such a thing as a horseshoe machine, to turn out thousands an hour, was not to be dreamed of; besides, we would have had little store of iron wherewith to feed it. Nor could we set up such machinery without much prevision; for to concentrate all work on one machine required the transportation of the iron to one point, and the distribution of the shoes from it to all the armies. But the railroads were greatly over-tasked, and we were compelled to consider this point. Thus we were led to employ every wayside blacksmith shop accessible, especially those in and near the theatre of operations. These, again, had to be looked after, supplied with material, and exempted from service.

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