Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/85

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.

Confederate Ordnance Department. • 75

About December, 1861, arms began to come in through the pur- chases of Major Huse, and we had a good many Enfield rifles in the hands of our troops at Shiloh, which were received in time for use there through the blockade. Major Huse had found the market pretty well cleaned of arms by the late war in Europe, but he had succeeded in making contracts with private manufacturers, of which these arms were the result.

I will not attempt to trace the development of our work in its order, as I at first intended, but will note simply what I can recollect, paying some attention to the succession of events.

The winter of 1861-2 was the darkest period of my department. Powder was called for on every hand — Bragg, at Pensacola, for his big ten-inch Columbiads : Lovell, at New Orleans, for his extended defences, and especially for his inadequate artillery at Forts Jackson and St. Phillips ; Polk, at Columbus, Kentucky ; Johnston, for his numerous batteries on the Potomac; Magruder, at Yorktown. All these were deemed most important points. Then came Wilmington, Georgetown, Port Royal, and Fernandina. Not a few of these places sent representatives to press their claims — Mr. Yulee from Fernan- dina, and Colonel Gonzales from Charleston. Heavy guns, too, were called tor in all directions — the largest guns for the smallest places.

The abandonment of the line of the Potomac, and of the upper Mississippi from Columbus to Memphis; the evacuation of the works below Pensacola, and of Yorktown, somewhat relieved us from the pressure for heavy artillery ; and after the powder-mills at Augusta went into operation in the fall of 1862, we had little trouble in sup- plying ammunition.

To obtain the iron needed for cannon and projectiles, it became necessary to stimulate its production in Virginia, North Carolina, Ten- nessee, Georgia, and Alabama. To this end, contracts were made with iron-masters in these States on liberal terms, and advances of money made to them, to be refunded in products. These contracts were difficult to arrange, as so much had to be done for the con- tractor. He must have details from the army and the privilege of transport of provisions and other supplies over the railroads. And then the question of the currency was a continually recurring pro- blem. Mr. Benjamin, who succeeded Mr. Walker in the War Depart- ment, gave me great assistance in the matter of making contracts, and seemed quite at home in arranging these details. His power of work was amazing to me ; and he appeared as fresh at 12 o'clock at night, after a hard day's work, as he had been at 9 o'clock in the morning.