the first enabled, with adequate appropriations, to commence operations for procuring arms and munitions of war on a scale at all commensurate with the urgent wants of the service and the vast forces to which we were opposed.
During the seven weeks which elapsed between the arrival of the Executive in Richmond and the meeting of Congress, every effort of the Department was directed to the re-enforcement of the armies of Generals Johnston and Beauregard, each confronted on the northern border with greatly superior numbers; but such was the absolute deficiency in supplies, arms, munitions, and means of transportation, and so short was the period for preparation, that the total effective force of the combined armies of our generals on the glorious 21st of July, 1861, was only 28,000 effective men, as shown by the official reports; and so thoroughly exhausted and prostrated was the army by the exertions and fatigue of that desperate struggle as to cause both its distinguished commanders to pronounce pursuit impossible and an aggressive movement totally impracticable. The President of the United States had, in his message addressed to the Congress of that nation prior to the battle of Manassas, avowed the purpose of making conquest of the Confederate States, and had succeeded in obtaining a grant of an army of 500,000 men and $500,000,000. In order to meet these vast preparations for our subjugation the act of the 8th of August, 1861, authorized the President to call for 400,000 volunteers, and on the 21st of the same month an additional appropriation of $57,000,000 was made for the public defense. Soon after the removal of the seat of government, however, the health of my predecessor had become impaired by the incessant labors and responsibilities of his office, and both from this cause and the want of adequate assistance the business of the Department was unavoidably in arrears when he felt compelled to resign his post in September last. The duties of his office were then temporarily performed, at the request of the President, by the undersigned, then the head of another Department, and the double duties of the Attorney-General and Secretary of War remained committed to his charge until the 15th of November, when he was relieved from the duties of Attorney-General and placed permanently in charge of the Department of War.
During this period of about five months the increases in the armies on both sides; the expansion of the area over which hostilities are conducted; the addition to the Confederacy of the States of Kentucky and Missouri while both were actually invaded by the enemy; the defense of the sea-coast, attacked by powerful naval expeditions at almost every assailable point; the desperate efforts of the enemy in putting forth the utmost of his gigantic strength and lavishing all his available resources in the vain hope of our speedy conquest, have combined to throw upon the Department a weight of responsibility and a burden of labor almost beyond human endurance. Even with adequate supplies and instructed officers the task would have been formidable in the extreme. But far different was our condition. We were without the means of manufacturing at home except in such establishments as private enterprise or Government patronage had called into existence since the commencement of the war; we were in many instances without even the raw material for manufacturing the needful supplies. We had no navy to protect our commerce abroad and our enemy steamed without opposition along the waters of our coast. Foreign nations acquiesced in the paper blockade proclaimed by the United States, and such arms and munitions as we could purchase