EXECUTIVE OFFICE, IOWA, May 6, 1861.
General JOHN E. WOOL,
New York City:
DEAR SIR: Some time since certain gentlemen of Chicago, composing a military committee at that place, had made an arrangement with you, as I understand, by which 5,000 rifle muskets, or long-range rifles, were ordered from Springfield Arsenal to Chicago, and were started on the way. They were subsequently stopped in transitu, upon information being received from the Governor of Illinois that the State had been supplied with arms from Saint Louis.
This State is destitute of arms. The quota furnished us yearly, based on the census of 1850, has been so small and so utterly disproportioned to our actual population, and the arms sent having been, until last year, the old flint-lock musket altered to a percussion lock, that I may say the State is without arms. Besides, what few we have we distributed in the hands of volunteer companies in different parts of this large State, and could be got together by long and expensive land carriage, we having as yet but few railroads.
I had applied to the military committee at Chicago, to whom you were sending the 5,000 arms from Springfield, for a loan of 1,000 stands, in view of the want of this State in that regard, and they had very generously promised, if possible, to let me have them.
As soon as I learned that Governor Yates had received from Saint Louis a supply largely in excess of the requisition in his favor I sent a special messenger to him asking him for a portion of them, but he declined letting me have any. His refusal to give me any portion of the Saint Louis arms, and his information to you that his State was supplied-by means of which the 5,000 on the way to Chicago were stopped, and I, of course, prevented from getting any portion of them- have left me, as yet, wholly unprovided for. We need arms and must have them in some way. I can't get them in any reasonable time from private manufactures. We have filled, and will promptly fill, all requisitions made on us by the United States for men, but our southern border is exposed to incursions of reckless men from Missouri for plunder and our western border to Indian depredations. The U. S. troops have been withdrawn from Forts Randall and Kearny; large bodies of Indians are on our northwestern border, excited by the news that our country is engaged in civil war, and I am daily in receipt of letters from that portion of our State that the danger of an attack by the Indians is imminent. They are already in the State in small bands, as I am informed, stealing horses.
Under these circumstances the General Government must furnish us arms and ammunition, unless it is wholly unable to do so. If you have the power to do so, I hope you will at once send me, to this point, 5,000 long-range rifles or rifle muskets and accouterments, with proper ammunition, or as near that amount as you can.
If you have not the power, please forward this letter to the War Department, with such indorsement by you as your judgment dictates.
A prompt reply will confer a great favor on.
Your obedient servant,
SAMUEL J. KIRKWOOD.