Washington, June 8, 1861.
Honorable SIMON CAMERON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: Since the receipt of your letter of the 6th ultimo every attention possible on the part of this office has been given toward obtaining the necessary data for responding to the various questions therein. In ordinary times, and without the confusion as to the condition of ordnance supplies which was occasioned by irregular and it is believed, unwarranted orders for taking them from the arsenals, it would not have been difficult to have made a prompt answer to your letter. As it was, immediate measures were taken to answer, which involved the necessity of a correspondence with the respective arsenals. Most of them have responded, and a tabular statement is in preparation, exhibiting in a concise form, convenient for easy reference, the facts called for by the first and fifth questions of your letter. There are still some blanks necessarily left in this statement, from the non-receipt of replies from some of the arsenals, which will be filled as fast as they come in, and the complete statement submitted to you. I ought not probably to have delayed an immediate answer to your letter, as far as was possible, but my desire to answer it in full has caused me to do so. I now reply to the second, third, and fourth questions, and will not defer answers to the others longer than is absolutely necessary to enable me to do so. The cost of manufacturing rifle muskets is $1.93 per arm, including appendages, such as screw-drivers, wipers, spring vices, and bullet-molds. The Government has no foundry and purchases its cannon. The prices heretofore paid have been 6 cents per pound for iron cannon unchambered, and 6 1/2 cents for chambered; for bronze cannon, 46 cents per pound, except the mountain howitzer, for which 75 cents per pound is paid. No muskets have been purchased. For cavalry carbines, which are patented arms, the price is $30 each; and for cavalry pistols, Colt revolvers of the latest pattern, $25. The only work for supplying arms owned by the Government is the armory at Springfield. The present capacity of that armory can give a product of about 2,500 arms a month. Measures are now in as rapid progress as possible to provide additional machinery, tools, and fixtures to double at least that capacity. The orders from this office to the superintendent give him full powers of increasing the product without limit. The service is now deficient in rifle muskets; in siege and field artillery, with carriages and harness; in some calibers of heavy artillery, and carriages for the same; in acounterments and horse equipments; in accouterments and horse equipments; in artillery horses, and in powder and lead. When I say deficient, I mean that the quantities of these articles on hand are not an adequate stock for the present contemplated military force in service. We have supplies of all to meet immediate exigencies, except of rifle muskets, and our supply of this arm, smooth-bored, of good and serviceable quality, will for the present meet this deficient. All these deficiencies must be supplied by manufacture at the U. S. Army and arsenals and by purchases from private establishments. These two sources will keep up our supply to meet immediate wants, and in one year, it is estimated, will afford a good stock in store. The estimates of this Bureau, which will be submitted in a few days, will exhibit this subject in full detail. These estimates will not be for less then $500,000 for the remainder of the present fiscal year, and $6,000,000 for the next year, to meet liabilities contracted for and probable future expenditures.
JAMES W. RIPLEY,
Lieutenant-Colonel of Ordnance.