forge them. We applied several times to Leeds & Co., who as often answered us that they could neither procure the shafting nor forge it. We supposed it could be made in Richmond or at the Norfolk navy-yard, but ascertain that it could not. At one time we supposed that we secured the making of these shafts by Ward & Co., of Nashville, but were disappointed. In the latter part of December we learned that Mr. John Clarke had taken a contract from the Government for making the Armstrong gun, and was about to erst a building, furnaces, and hammer for that purpose. We saw him, induced him to make some necessary charges in the plan of his works, and to agree to make our side shafting. On January 10 we wrote to the Secretary of the Navy:
"We have been much troubled about the side shafts. Mr. Clarke, of this place, has agreed to make them, and we hope will have them done in February."
This hope was derived from the opinion of Mr. Clarke, expressed to us; but was unavoidably delayed in the erection of the building and works by much rainy weather and a scarcity of suitable mechanics. I think that his works were completed about the middle of March. He could get no person who had experience with such work; but with perseverance he succeeded in forging them - the first in about fifteen days and the second in about eight days. By our previous arrangement with Leeds & Co. these shafts, as soon as they were forged, were taken to their shop, and worked upon day and night until they were finished. the last of these shafts were put on board the vessel, I think, April 23. We frequently visited the founder and workshop of Jackson & Co. to urge forward the work and to render all the assistance in our power. When we were convinced that the machinery would be the cause of delay, we urged the distribution of such parts as could be removed, and thus finished earlier, to other shops, and promised to pay any extra cost. We also, on April 3, promised Jackson & Co. to pay them $5,000 extra if they would have the machinery completed according to the specifications of their contract by the 25th of that month. Parts of the machinery were distributed to Leeds & Co., Clarke, Barringer, and other shops. We purchased two small auxiliary engines and a steam pump, which were a part of the machinery contract, and charged them to the contractor. We procured hands to aid in putting the machinery up in the ship, and did all we could in every way to remove every obstacle and forward the work. I have mentioned only the more important obstacles and our efforts to remove them. The Committee of Public Safety attempted to make us launch the vessel before she was ready. We convinced them that they were wrong, and they desisted. Mr. V. Sheldon, a member of the committee, refused to let us have his sub-marine armor to examine the ways of the ship, which was necessary to her safety in launching. We sent a steamer 25 miles to procure another, which was cheerfully furnished by Captain Whiting. We found it impracticable, in the early part of the work, to get from the authorities an armed guard for the protection of the vessel. These are samples of the minor difficulties.
Question. Was not Leeds & Co. a larger and better establishment than that of Jackson & Co.? If so, why did you not give the contract to Leeds & Co.? Did you know the character of Kirk as a business man? State also the reason that influenced you in giving the contract.
Answer. Leeds & Co. had a larger, and I think a better, establishment, all things founder, was, for the purpose of building the machinery of the Mississippi, the equal of Leeds & Co. in point of capacity, tools, lathes, steam-hammers, founder, &c. Jackson & Co., or Kirk, as their representative, had, I think, recently removed from Mobile to New Orleans where they purchased the Patterson founder, and were doing work for the Government when we arrived there. I know nothing of his character as a business man. He occupied a position as the head and proprietor of a machine shop and founder second only to that of Leeds & Co. in New Orleans, which was calculated to recommend him, and I heard nothing objectionable to his character or capacity as a mechanic.
Our reasons for making the contract with Jackson & Co. and not with Leeds & Co. were:
1st. The lowest price of Leeds & Co. was $65,000 and the shortest time four months. The bid of Jackson & Co. for the same work was $45,000 and the time three months.
2nd. Leeds & Co. were pressed with work, and they did not seem at all confident that they could do our work in the time mentioned. Jackson & Co. had but little work on hand, and this they promised to dispose of in a few days, and to devote the whole capacity of the establishment exclusively to our work.
Under these circumstances, with a saving of $20,000 to the Government and one month in time and with an apparent superior capacity for doing the work, we did not hesitate to make the contract with Jackson & co. With continued, earnest and zealous efforts I believe that Jackson & Co. could have completed the machinery earlier than