The estimates for the next year are for objects not confined to a state of war, but for such as are required to keep up a proper state of preparation, and to reserve the large and valuable munitions of war now on hand. On the termination of the war measures were promptly taken to reduce the procurement of supplies and to provide storage for the munitions returned to the arsenals from the armies and captured from the enemy. Commodious fireproof workshops are being erected at Allegheny, Watervliet, and Frankford Arsenals, and it is contemplated to erect similar stops at Washington Arsenal, for which there is an appropriation. These shops can be advantageously used for storage when their entire capacity for manufacturing purposes is not needed.
From the evident importance of arming the permanent fortifications as fast as they are built, the construction of cannon and carriages for this purpose, so far as existing appropriations warrant, has not been intermitted. It is contemplated to increase the capacity of manufacturing sea-coast carriages in proportion to the readiness of the forts to receive them, and to discontinue the fabrication of wooden carriages for field and siege guns in favor and iron carriages, which experiments have shown are preferable for that service. Cast-iron smooth-bore cannon, of large caliber, as now made, are found to be entirely reliable; but not so the heavy rifled cannon, as theretofore made and tried. The failures on trial of the wrought- iron guns made by Mr. Horation Ames indicate that these guns cannot be relied upon, and that no more of them ought to be made for this department. Two experimental cast-iron 8-inch rifle guns have been made of the model and weight supposed to render them reliable for service. They are now undergoing extreme proof to test hem thoroughly.
The manufacture of arms at the National Armory was reduced at the conclusion of hostilities as rapidly as could be done with economy, and at present no new muskets are being made there. With a view to change the model of small-arms from muzzle-loaders to breech-loaders, extensive experiments have been made; but they have not yet resulted in the selection of a model of such decided excellency as to render its adoption for the service advisable. It is hoped that such a model may soon be found. A plan for altering the musket of the present pattern into efficient breech- loaders has been devised, and 5,000 of them are being so altered for issue to troops for practical test. There are nearly 1,000,000 good Springfield muskets on hand, and upward of 500,000 foreign and captured muskets. The latter will be sold whenever suitable prices can be obtained for them, and also other ordnance stores of a perishable nature which are in excess of the wants of the service.
The necessity of providing a suitable depository for gunpowder, with proper magazines for its storage and preservation, which was stated in the last annual report, is again mentioned, and the requisite legislation is urged.
A partial provision for this object, as far as respects a supply for the Mississippi Valley, has been made on the military reserve at Jefferson Barracks.
The Government has not yet acquired a title of the property on Rock Island, taken possession of under the act of July 19, 1864. It is important that this be done with as little delay as practicable. The importance of having full possession and control of Rock Island, including the adjacent islands, and the right of way is stated in the report of the Chief of Ordnance, and additional legislation therefor, if necessary, is recommended.