War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0621 Chapter XVI. CAPTURE OF NEW ORLEANS.

Search Civil War Official Records

Question. Do you know who were the contractors for the engines, &c., which were to be placed upon the Mississippi, a gunboat or a ship of war, being completed in New Orleans at the time of its capture? If so, state their resources for a prompt compliance, with your opinion of their ability to fulfill such contract.

Answer. Mr. Kirk was the contractor, but he used the name Jackson & Co. His establishment was next to that of Leeds & Co. in capacity, working 75 hands. He was generally reputed to be a man of limited pecuniary resources and of inferior mechanical capacity, but I have no personal knowledge on these points. It was a mechanical impossibility for him to have finished such a contract in the time agreed upon, to wit, three months. No establishment in the city could have performed the contract within that time. From my knowledge of the machinery of that vessel, and the fact that Leeds & Co. could not, with greater facilities for the dispatch of such work, have completed the contact in less than four months, I am of opinion that Kirk, with far inferior force, could not have complied with the terms of contract as to time. The contract was made about the latter part of September, and when the city fell the machinery was not then completed. When the enemy were assembling at Ship Island in force, some weeks previous to the fall of the city, much of the work of the Mississippi was distributed among other establishments. Leeds & Co. had about $6,000 worth of it to do.

Question. Did Leeds & Co. make a bid for the construction of the machinery for the Mississippi? If so, state their proposals with reference to the amount for which they would do the work and the time at which they would complete it.

Answer. They did make such a bid, and, to the best of my recollection, they agreed to make the entire machinery of the vessel for $65,000. I do not think they proposed any definite time as to the completion of the work, but expressed the opinion confidently that it could be done in four months. We could have made closer estimates, but we had no drawing or specifications. I believe we would have bound ourselves to have finished the work within five months. The capacity of an establishment like that of Kirk and Leeds & Colonel was limited by the quantity of machinery they had. Leeds & Co. could not have made available a greater force than they had.

Question. Do you know who were the builders of the machinery of the Louisiana?

Answer. I do not know, of my own knowledge, though I am well satisfied that Kirk and a machines named John McLean did the work. I do not know where they are.

Question. How long had Kirk been established in the city, and what, if you know, was his general reputation as a business man?

Answer. He had not ben in the city before the war began. His reputation was that he was a man destitute of principle, though it was not generally so reputed at the time he took the contract for the machinery of the Mississippi.

Question. Did General Lovell ever visit the works of Leeds & Co. and manifest and interest in the progress of the Government works/

Answer. He visited there frequently and urged the progress of the work.

Question. Were any heavy guns made at Leeds & Co.'s establishment or were any rifled or banded?

Answer. We made a few heavy guns for the Navy and one for the Army. We rifled quite a number of old 32 and 42 pounders for the Army, and we banded one 7-inch gun. I do not recollect whether any more were banded.

Question. Were Leeds & Co. ever applied to by General Lovell to make heavy guns on an extensive scale or could they have done it?

Answer. I do not know that he did. He did business with Mr. Thomas Leeds, who is now dead.

Question. Was the establishment of Leeds & Co. in constant employment for the Government?

Answer. It was steadily employed for the Confederate States and the State of Louisiana from within a short time after the wart began. The proprietors refused to undertake work for planters, &c.