Adjacent to Rock Island and connected with it by a dam is a small island known as Benham's Island, of which possession has not been taken. It appears to have been the intention of Congress in passing the act above referred to that the United States should have full and complete possession and control of Rock Island for military purposes. Should Benham's Island or any other small islands or accretions in the river lying between Rock Island and the shores of Illinois and Iowa be held by private parties, with the right of way across the island, as is now claimed by the owner of Benham's Island, the principal object of the law will be thereby defeated.
If additional legislation is necessary to give the United States full possession and control of the whole of Rock Island, including the adjacent island, I recommend that it be asked of Congress.
The buildings erected as a prison and barracks on Rock Island have been turned over to the Ordnance Department and are now used as store-houses, &c.
Several of the Southern arsenals have been reoccupied, and it is the intention of the department to reoccupy all of them, except the Fayetteville Arsenals, in North Carolina, which was destroyed.
An extensive powder mill at August, Ga., and a large armory (unfinished) and a laboratory at Macon, Ga., which were built by the rebel government, have fallen into possession of this department. The necessary measures for preserving the property have been taken.
The number of permanent U. S. arsenals and armories, exclusive of temporary depots established for war purposes, most of which have been and all of which will soon be discontinued, is now twenty- eight. In addition to the command and supervision of these, the officers of this department are charged with the inspection of materials and manufacture of ordnance, gunpowder, and such small- arms and equipments as are made for the Government at the foundries, powder mills, and other private establishments. These duties furnish constant employment for all the officers of the ordnance corps now authorized by law, the total number of which is sixty-four. The arsenals alone require, as a minimum number in time of peace, fifty-six, and the Bureau and inspection duties at least eight more. During the late rebellion the want of a great number of regular ordnance officers educated for and experienced in their peculiar duties was seriously felt; and the necessity, arising from the inadequate provision in this respect, of the frequent employment of acting ordnance officers caused much embarrassment and confusion, and was detrimental to the public service and interest. These now require that the additional offices of the Ordnance Department authorized temporarily by sections 4 and 12 of the act of March 3, 1863, shall be continued as part of the military peace establishment.
The tabular statement accompanying this report shows in detail the ordnance, arms, and other ordnance supplies which ave been procured and issued through this department during the past fiscal year. The armies in the field were amply and will supplies in this respect. The permanent fortifications have had their armaments kept in order, and strengthened and increased by the addition of guns of heavy caliber and great efficiency.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. B. DYER,
Brigadier-General and Chief of Ordnance.