War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0155 Chapter XXIII. GENERAL REPORTS.

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from, to my successor. I shall have to rely, therefore, upon memory for the statement asked for in your letter of the 20th, but which I hope will convey with sufficient minuteness of detail the information desired by General McClellan. The duties referred to extended through a period of about eleven months, and my object will be to give a brief abstract of the more prominent facts pertaining thereto. The want of arms was one of the principal difficulties to be overcome in the preparation of the Army of the Potomac for the field. From an inadequate appreciation of the magnitude of the impending conflict, or from some other cause, no provision was made at the commencement of the war for a supply of arms, except from the Springfield Armory. No encouragement was then offered to private manufactures in the United States, and I believe no attempt was made to import arms until after General McClellan's arrival in Washington, in the latter part of July, 1861. Indeed, I have been informed that the appropriation made near the close of the extra session of that year for the purchase of arms was on the estimate of an officer not of the Ordnance Department. Most of the arms originally furnished were the altered percussion musket, to the reception of which there was an unconquerable aversion from almost the entire army, the objection to them being partly, perhaps, due to prejudice, but generally to their known inferiority. The alteration from flint to percussion was in many cases not well done, and from the hard usage to which they were subjected in the hands of raw troops they were so liable to become unserviceable that officers and men soon lost all confidence in them, and to a certain extent they were a prolific source of demoralization. Reports were constantly received from commanders of regiments and from military boards condemning them without discrimination, and not seldom expressing an unwillingness to engage the enemy with such weapons. Many of the foreign arms which were substituted for them were but little better, and after a brief trial in camp served only as a basic for the renewal of complaints. Thus experiments were going on for months in the exchange of one suspicious musket for another of similar quality.

Notwithstanding these continuous transfer and new issues [it was] about January 15, 1862, I believe, when two division commanders, by direction of the President, made an official inquiry as to the condition of their department, and whether that condition was such as to prevent an immediate advance. There were, I think, between thirty and forty regiments still armed with the altered musket, and others with foreign arms of perhaps inferior quality. Nor was this all. When the army left Washington two or three kinds or calibers of arms were often found in the same regiment, and in the entire army there were probably not less than ten varieties, and of almost as many calibers, from the manufactories of the United States, England, France, Belgium, Prussia, and Austria. This variety of caliber was a constant source of trouble and anxiety in keeping up a supply of suitable ammunition for the field, and as the wagons of the ordnance trains were not properly marked, so as to reveal their contents at a glance, extraordinary exertions were required to supply the troops during the movement from the Chickahominy to Harrison's Landing. Thus, with the exception of the inferior quality of a portion of the arms, and a dangerous variety of calibers, the infantry of the Army of the Potomac, I believe, took the field with an ample supply of ordnance material of unexceptional quality.

The armament of the cavalry was also attended with vexation and delay, but to some extent this was due to indecision or difference of opinion among some of the officers of that branch of service. It was