been, as you must be aware, almost entirely cut off. I have felt the necessity of communicating, if such a thing were possible, but rather than have my letters fall into improper hands it has seemed to me better that I should defer writing till an opportunity offered of sending a letter through with safety. I learn that letters now pass from the United States to the Confederate States by way of Louisville, and I have decided to make use of that means of communication, by addressing my letter to a citizen of the Confederacy, with the request that he will forward it to the War Department.
Since I have been in Europe I have found my operations very much embarrassed from two causes. First, having but very limited means at my disposal, and the market being but poorly supplies with munitions of war, when at the same time their were several agents with large means at their command purchasing for other Governments, among which were the United States, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Peru. The U. S. agents and the agents of the individual Northern States were my most formidable competitors. Their orders appear to have been unlimited, both as regards price and quantity, and they paid cash in every instance. Under these circumstances I am certain that you cannot fail to appreciate the difficulties under which I have had to execute my orders. I should state, moreover, that the U. S. ministers to England, France, and Belgium have been very active in their endeavors to discover what the agents of the Confederacy are effecting. They have agents employed for no other purpose, and it is of the highest importance that these agents should be kept in ignorance of all the acts of any agent of the Confederacy. Any perso become acquainted with Europe from personal experience knows how difficult it is for a stranger to keep his actions secret when spies are on his path. The gentleman who left Montgomery in May with orders to co-operate with me has been with me since his arrival in England, and in everything that has been done he has cordially co-operated with me.
We have found it impossible to purchase any arms that in our opinion could be classed as coming within the description contained in my letter of instructions. In such a time as the present neither that gentleman nor myself would have hesitated to depart from the strict letter of the Department, if by so doing we could have secured arms that in our opinion would have been valuable to the Army. We have found, however, that nothing was to be had in all Europe approaching to the requirements of our instructions or to our own standard excellence. We have received communications form several parties that offered cannon, small-arms, accouterments, and, in fact, munitions of war of all kinds and of the best quality; but when we came to examine the samples we have found everything to be old and unserviceable, the small-arms either smooth-locks. We have decided that we ought not to purchase such arms without explicit orders to that effect. Besides being arms of an inferior quality, in which the soldiers of the Army would have little confidence, the adding of another caliber would give rise to great confusion, and might lead to very disastrous results. We are informed that the U. S. agent-in this case the minister, Mr. Dayton--has purchased within a few days 30,000 old flint-lock muskets, which are to be altered before they are sent to the United States.
There are other muskets here in France of a similar character, which it will probably be possible to purchase. They are not such as