aration for any contingency and for preserving the large and valuable munitions of war which the country now possesses.
The manufacturing capacity of the arsenals was steadily increased from the date of my last report until May, when the sudden termination of hostilities made it apparent that the immediate demand for munitions of war beyond the supply then on hand and contracted for had ceased.
Measures were promptly taken to reduce the manufacture and purchase of supplies, and to provide for necessary storage, and for preserving the vast quantities of ordnance and ordnance stores which had been issued to the armies and captured from the enemy. Extensive temporary buildings have been erected at some of the principal arsenals, and much of this property had already been received and securely stored in them.
Large and commodious fire-proof workshops are now being erected at Allegheny, Watervliet, and Frankford Arsenals; and so much of these buildings as will not be required in time of peace for manufacturing purposes can be advantageously used as store- houses, of which the want of an adequate supply is now manifest.
It is in contemplation to erect extensive fire-proof workshops at Washington Arsenal, which is considered an eligible position for a first-class arsenal. A portion of these shops can likewise be used for storing the large quantities of ordnance supplies which are now necessarily kept in insecure temporary buildings at that arsenal. Money for this object has already been appropriated by Congress.
The importance to the country of having the armaments placed in the forts as rapidly as they can be prepared to receive them is so evident that I have caused the manufacture of sea-coast gun carriages to be continued as rapidly as practicable at the two arsenals which possess the proper facilities for making them; and orders have been given to the several founders, who have been engaged in making heavy guns for this department, for as many guns as carriages can be made for.
I have been informed by the chief engineer that he will be prepared to receive guns in the forts faster than carriages can now be made, and it is in contemplation to increase the capacity for manufacturing sea-coast carriages.
Experimental wrought-iron field and siege gun carriages have also been made and tested, with results so satisfactory as to render it certain that these carriages may be advantageously substituted for the wooden carriages, and it is proposed to make no more gun carriages of wood. The smooth-bore cannon of large caliber, which have been used during the war, have given satisfaction, and are regarded as perfectly reliable. The great importance of having reliable rifled guns of large caliber is universally admitted, and the attention of this Government and of the nations of Europe has been directed to that object, but so far, it is believed, without entire success in its accomplishment.
The many failures, by bursting, of the celebrated Parrott guns in the land and naval service have weakened confidence in them, and make it the imperative duty of this department to seek elsewhere for a more reliable rifle gun.
Mr. Horatio Ames, of Falls Village, Conn., invented a plan of making wrought-iron guns, which many believe would possess those qualities which are so very desirable for guns of heavy caliber, and although the cost of these guns was necessarily very great in comparison with the coast of cast-iron guns, a conditional order was given