I handed in a report concerning the liquid fires which had been the subject of experiments at Woolwich, and of these presented at headquarters samples of two kinds. I them made a trial of them in shells and proved that they and, for like reason, all liquids so highly combustible were not suitable for shells.
This much was accomplished by the month of April, 1863. I then instituted experiments with solid phosphorus and ascertained the fact, on which is based the method now introduced, that a shell charged with solid phosphorus in water would on explosion deliver the phosphorus in a state of vivid combustion and as a semi-fluid. I then, on account of the great cost of phosphorus, sought to make such combinations as would reduce the quantity of this substance without impairing its qualities. In this I believe that I am successful, and have reported accordingly.
The first public experiments were made in August or September last, before General Mercer and the chiefs of ordnance and artillery at Savannah, and the report thereon by Colonel C. C. Jones was highly commendatory. Since then I have sent to General Jordan and to officers of the ordnance department a number of these shells, amounting in all to 93.
This has been done in conformity with orders, but nevertheless at my own risk, inasmuch as the cost has been paid by me and if they were not accepted I would not be repaid. But of these shells I have scarcely had any information since they left me, a long time since.
I received the copy of a report showing that certain rifle shells had been tried and that the charge of powder was insufficient, but that the composition was satisfactory, and on the 22nd December a communication informing me that some of the shells had been reported upon unfavorably. Beyond this I have no instruction in the matter. I do not know shells were received what were tried, whether the fuses failed, or if the charges were deficient, or if the composition was more or less combustible than it ought to be. Should there be such defects they are easily remedied.
I do not know whether it is expected of me to continue to work in the dark, but for some time past I have been waiting for instruction and am now doing nothing in the matter. That I regret this is evinced by my frequent importunities.
I would not, however, have ventured to thrust my services and doubts upon your attention, except for a fact which seems to call upon me for some performance, which is, that I have found at the railroad depot a large quantity of phosphorus consigned to me; from the weigh I conjecture that it is enough to charge two thousand 8-inch shells. I have received no letter relative to it, neither do I know where it comes from, nor can any one inform me about it. That it comes to me in consequence of an application made by General Jordan to the Chief of Ordnance, I do not doubt, but until I have specific orders for the preparation of shells I cannot proceed, and unless I have some knowledge of the result from those shells that I have prepared I may go on blundering to the end.
In fine, if it is desired that I should continue this work it will be necessary to put it in charge of an officer of the ordnance department at Savannah, so that I shall neither be responsible for delays or costs.
I consider that in August last I had completed all that I was called upon to effect, and that to bring the design to useful results it was only necessary, as in all other practice, to adopt a shell of