I was shown this morning a new segment shell, invented by Mr. Breton. It appears to be possessed of all the advantages of the Armstrong against troops, and is much more simple and less expensive. The exterior is of cast-iron, of the shape of the projectiles used in the gun sent by Mr. Prioleau to Charleston, and which was used in the bombardment. It is made as thin as possible not to be broken in the gun. Inside the shell is a second shell, made in segments, also of cast-iron. There are nine of these segments, each of which consists of six parts, or rather each of which will easily break into six parts. Thus A* is one of the segments, made of brittle cast-iron; c, c, and c, are disks of sheet-iron, around which the cast-iron is poured. The cast-iron does not adhere to the cold wrought-iron, and the segment when taken from the mold is an arch, the voussoirs of which are of cast-iron. These voussoirs are connected at the back the wrought-iron partitions not coming quite through to the back of the arch.
Nine of these segments are placed together, forming a body, the exterior orifice of which is to fit the interior of the outer shell. The interior space is filled with sand. This mass of segments and sand forms the core of the shell. A mold is now made, and the shell completed as if an ordinary sand-core had been used. It is evident that the shells is very strong to resist pressure from the exterior, but very weak in the opposite direction. The principle may be applied to projectiles for either muzzle-loading or breech-loading guns. When used for muzzle-loaders, the same arrangement is adopted by Mr. Breton as in the case of the projectiles for the Blakely gun.
I have met Captain Blakely and have conversed with him about his gun. As yet I have failed to see anything in his principle which would cause me to purchase his cannon. He uses the same principle that Armstrong employs - of wrapping an interior core with wrought-iron spirals - and in fact he claims the merit of the invention. The chief difference appears to be that Captain Blakely uses a cast-iron core, while Sir William has a wrought-iron centerpiece. The Northern States have purchased some Clay breech-loaders, I am informed, at enormous prices. From the accounts I have received of them, and from a cursory inspection of one, I should think the men about the breech would stand a little better change than the enemy, but that the difference would be very slight. I am told that they were invoiced as Armstrong guns. The true Armstrong cannot be had. I think, however, that they can be manufactured from the drawings which I shall sent do the Department.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain, c. S. Army.
TALLAHASSEE, FLA., May 21, 1861.
Hon. L. P. WALKER:
DEAR SIR: As we are in want of arms and munitions of war, and cannot procure them from abroad through the usual channel of our own ports in consequence of the blockade, allow me to suggest to you the feasibility of making use of the neighboring Mexican port of Matamoras for that purpose. An agent in England might purchase all the articles required by us and them to a similar agent in Matamoras, whence they could be readily across the Rio Grande