War of the Rebellion: Serial 127 Page 0494 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

demands of the Executive in the preparations which it has set on foot. These preparations the Confederate Government is determined to meet by equal preparations, and at whatever cost to stand ready to prosecute to a successful end the war that has been thus wickedly forced upon us. In view of the magnitude of this struggle and of the pressing exigencies which surround us, this Department deems it necessary to enlarge your powers and to press upon you with more earnestness than ever the necessity of procuring at once and by every means within your reach a supply farms and munitions of war for the Confederate Government. You are therefore hereby instructed to increase your exertions and enlarge your operations for this object to the utmost extent of your power. To his end you are authorized to depart, at your discretion, from the terms of your original instructions. You will purchase at the earliest possible moment all the arms suitable for our purposes which can be obtained, from whatever places and at whatever price; and if a sufficient quantit be purchased at once, you are authorized to enter into contracts at your discretion with manufacturers and to spare no expense or risk which may be necessary to secure the largest quantity of arms, of the best quality, at the earliest possible moment, sufficient to arm, if need be, not less than 500 regiments. To this end increased sums of money, to whatever amount may be necessary, will be placed or your disposal.

You are furthermore authorized and instructed to make purchases of powder in large quantities of the best qualities that can be obtained, both cannon-powder and musket and rifle powder, and to prepare the same for immediate shipment. This Department would again call your attention to its late letter of July 18, inclosing extracts from a communication from F. H. Hatch, the collector at New Orleans. To insure its reaching you a copy of this extract is again here inclosed. * But in view of the peculiar difficulties attending your shipments to America, the Department would ask your attention to another scheme for effecting this object. The Secretary of the Navy has placed at the disposal of this Department the armed vessel the McRae. This vessel will proceed at once to England to co-operate with you. A duplicate of this letter will be forwarded by her. It is suggested that if a number of smaller vessels could be secured under British colors and with British clearances and laden with our arms the McRae could convoy and protect them upon their voyage. These vessels might make the port of Nassay, New Providence, or some other port equally favorably situated. There they might clear with probable safety for the coast of Honduras or of Yucatan, and enter upon the coast either of Florida or Louisiana.

This scheme is submitted to your consideration, and you will decide, among such as have been presented or may have occurred to you, according to the best information you can obtain. More than one route might perhaps with advantage be attempted simultaneously. To meet this contingency or any other which may possibly arise an additional naval officer will be sent over in the McRae, who will either co-operate in the return voyage or, if deemed necessary, remain behind to take charge of any subsequent shipment.

Pressing once more the supreme importance of this subject upon your earnest attention and confiding in your unremitting efforts,

I am very respectfully,


Secretary of War.


* See p. 487.