I also have to acknowledge your letter of October 26, inclosing the proposition of Messrs. Mickles and Hopkins to deliver 60,000 new muskets in four months at the city of New York, to be paid for there, but to be inspected at Antwerp. I have not yet see Mr. Hopkins, but will arrange for the inspection, so that he shall have no delay whatever. I ought to go over to Birmingham to- night, but shall wait another day in the hope of seeing one or both of these gentlemen.
Respectfully, yours, &c.,
GEORGE L. SCHUYLER.
LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Paris, November 14, 1861.
Colonel THOMAS A. SCOTT,
Assistant Secretary of War, Washington:
DEAR SIR: I hope you will excuse me for the liberty I am taking in addressing you a private letter without having the honor of an acquaintance with you personally. I have just written an official letter to the Secretary of War respecting the contracts made with Messrs. Lee and Hopkins. In such a letter it would be unbecoming to make any comments, but I feel bound to inform you that the Government must place no reliance upon receiving those arms, for they do not exist. This same business has occupied my time for many months, and as the parties here have not been able to effect anything with me they are now transferring their operations to the United States. Such gentlemen as Mr. Lee and Mr. Hopkins of course are acting in perfect good faith upon the information given to them by their correspondents on this side, but when they arrive here they find that the proposition is made to them in the expectation that if accepted, and as there is no penalty attached to the contract, that somehow or other the guns will be found. I have written constantly to the Department to say that I was well informed of the different lots of guns to be bought in all Europe; that no first-class guns, except upon orders for the future, could be obtained except from Government arsenals, and that if they wished me to do so, or if they would send out an ordnance officer, any quantity of second-hand guns could be procured at very low prices.
The German and French and Austrian Governments are now selling the refuse of their arsenals to speculators. May of these old guns are sold so cheaply that they are bought solely to use the locks. A large quantity of Austrian guns are being transformed in Belgium and elsewhere, mostly, I fear, for our market. In all this there is no harm, provided the Government knows what it is buying and what the guns are worth. It is difficult to imagine, even, how various and skillful are the attempts at fraud in the trade in this country. I am very glad my purchases are finished, and I hope they will prove satisfactory.
I speak to the Secretary in my letter about money for Mr. Lee's contract, but really he need not take much care on the head; 30,000 rifles of the caliber of .58 do not exist in Europe out of England, and to get 30,000 first-quality French caliber by January 5 is also impossible, in my opinion. I also fear that Mr. Hopkins will find that his 60,000 new muskets will turn out to be transformed Austrians, and old.
I am now engaged in making some arrangements for a regular supply of rifles, if desired by the Government. I hope to report in person to you by the middle of next month. I am quite ready to return here again, if it be desired, with new and more explicit instructions, or to