War of the Rebellion: Serial 122 Page 0264 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

I also propose to obtain from France, as samples and for the purpose of examination, one of each caliber, both rifled and smooth bore, of the field cannon known as the "Napoleon" gun.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

JAS. W. RIPLEY,

Lieutenant-Colonel, Ordnance.

ORDNANCE OFFICE,

June 11, 1861.

Notes on subject of contracting for small-arms.

A great will now specially prevalent in regard to arms for the military service is the vast variety of the new inventions, each having, of course, its advocates, insisting upon the superiority of his favorite arm over all others and urging its adoption by the Government.

The influence thus exercised has already introduced into the service many kinds and calibers and arms, some, in my opinion, unfit for use as military weapons, and none as good as the U. S. musket, producing confusion in the manufacture, the issue, and the use of ammunition, and very injurious to the efficiency of troops. This evil can only be stopped by positively refusing to answer any requisitions for or propositions to sell new and untried arms, and steadily adhering to the rule of uniformity of arms for all troops of the same kind, such as cavalry, artillery, infantry. The U. S. muskets as now made have no superior arms in the world. I say this with confidence, from my entire familiarity with the manufacture of these arms, and from the fact that the celebrated Enfield rifle of England is the result of a long visit and minute examination and close study of the arms made at Springfield Armory and of the machinery and tools and mode of conducting operations there, by three British officers, who were selected by their Government for the special service. They had the machinery for the Enfield Armory made in the vicinity of Springfield from U. S. patterns, and they engaged the services of several of the armory mechanics, one to take the general charge of the Enfield works as master-armorer, and others to take charge of the stocking, forging, and other principal departments of manufacture. It is, in my opinion, decidedly objectionable to enter into contracts for any other arms than those of the regular U. S. patterns. Although there are many persons urgent and clamorous for contracts, and ready to promise the delivery of any kind of arms, of any patterns, and in a short time, I know of none, and I do not believe there are any, who have the requisite machinery, tools, and fixtures for making such arms, and but few who can prepare them in less than one year's time. Even Mr. Colt. who has the most complete private armory in the United States or probably elsewhere, and greater means and facilities for commencing the fabrication of the Government pattern arms than any one else, states that it will require six months for him to make the first delivery. All who seek these contracts want orders for large quantities of arms, which I consider it certain they will not be able to deliver under many years' time, not probably until the present demand for them is over. The Government, however, will be bound to take and pay for all these arms. The best and only proper course to pursue in this matter is, in my opinion, to make no contract now for more than 25,000 arms, with a stringent condition in regard to the time of delivery-I should say