STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA,
Headquarters, February 3, 1862.
MY DEAR SIR: My aide, Colonel Duryea, has just returned, and I regret that you should have thought anything of my sending on to claim the arms that belonged to our regiments, if out of use. I said that they belonged to the State, with the equipments, for I send on all our regiments without charging for them.
I had been informed by the Ordnance Officer of North Carolina that State had a claim of $2,000,000 for what she had sent on, and inquired of me what course, I intended to pursue. I wrote back I had made no such charges at all. Of course I calculated, when the regiments had served their time out and were discharged, they would bring back their arms, for their field officers have all given bonds to the State for their return or to be accounted for. If the war were to end, of course I take it for granted the arms would be ours. The arms received from the old United States arsenal were accounted for by General Jamison at Montgomery, and settled in the transfer he then made of everything taken by us as a State before any other State had acted and before any Confederate Union had been formed at all.
I did not mean to make any unusual claim as long as the arms were in actual service, but only if they were not in use, and I only wanted to state the general principle upon which our claims to the arms rest.
When Colonel Gregg's regiment was discharged his arms were, under my orders, brought to Richmond, to be brought home, and he asked the privilege to reorganize his regiment in Virginia, and asked to retain his arms there and to receive companies commissioned by you, &c. I refused, because I could not do so in good faith to the State. We had companies of our own citizens who were eager to go into service, and as the arms were public property, I had no right to assign them to companies from other States, and if I did so, it would produce great excitement and discouragement amongst our own people.
Mr. Memminger then interceded, and also the then Secretary of War, and joined in an urgent appeal to me to allow Gregg to retain the arms in Virginia, and then Gregg pledged himself to give them alone to companies from our own State. Upon this I agreed to their wishes, but a claim that the arms did not belong to the State I never heard of or imagined at that time.
So, too, with our six pieces of flying artillery, send on with Company A, under Calhoun, with the harness, caissons, &c. I wrote the Secretary of War to send them back, if possible to spare them, as we needed them much on our own coast, and as the company had not been re-enlisted. He declined, because it would produce a bad effect for South Carolina troops to be sent back at that time from the Potomac line. I acquiesced in it, because, upon reflection, I thought the reason was sound and wise, but I never heard of any claim made that the guns, &c., were not ours. I hope now that I am mistaken in the impression that any claim of that kinds is to be set up. But I am informed by Colonel Duryea that the Secretary of War told him that my true way was to charge the Confederate Government for the arms and equipments sent on with our troops, and that this would be the proper course, and that it would be recognized, and the arms, &c., would then be considered as belonging to the Confederate Government and not to the States.
I was not aware that the States had taken this course, but I would be very glad to be informed if Colonel Duryea has understood the Secretary