From the Richmond Enquirer, 11/15/1864
NOV. 14, 1864.
The Ordnance Department of the Confederate States has
accomplished immense results of which the people are almost wholly ignorant. Its
results are daily seen, but by whom accomplished, by what means effects, by
whose skill directed, by whose talents guided, the people have not stopped to
inquire. Junction to a most useful department, to most industrious and
indefatigable officers, induces us to endeavor to point public attention more
particularly to this department.
When stating that the Richmond Arsenal has during the last
campaign, issued many millions of cartridges, it may be well to remind our
people that after the first battle of Manassas, there were not percussion caps
enough in the Confederacy for an ordinary skirmish of this campaign. Though rich
in material resources, the country had no experience in their collection or
manufacture, not skilled men to begin these necessary duties. And when it is
remembered that attended scientific knowledge, both in theory and in practice,
are required more in the Ordnance Department than in any other branch of the
service, the results of this corps will be more fully appreciated than the mere
statement in figures of its issues to the army. Of workshops and mechanics,
powder, nitre, saltpetre and caps, there were, practically none.
Whenever we have sought information from any of the
branches of this department, immediately they terrapinize, and, for fear of
information to the enemy, retire to their shells, keep their friends in total
ignorance; and as fire on their backs might produce an explosion, we must write
without specific knowledge.
The organization of the Nitre and Mining Corps was an
imperious necessity, and its successful operations have supplied the material
required for the immense issues of this Department. It has since swelled to a
separate Bureau, and is managed with consummate skill and talent. It was the
Ordnance Department which organized and directed the foreign importations of the
Government; which, under the fostering care and able management of this
Department, has also risen to a separate “Bureau of Foreign Supplies.”
The magnificent Power Mills at Augusta, the Arsenal there,
the National Armory and Central Laboratory at Macon, Ga., the arsenals at
Savannah, Columbus, Athens, Fayettesville, Raleigh, Salisbury and Richmond, all
attest the ability, skill, zeal and energy of the Chief of Ordnance and his
subordinate officers. The combination of private workshops, backed by the
immense resources of Tredegar, has made Richmond the great depot that supplied
the Army of Northern Virginia; and throughout all the difficulties that have
beset the Ordnance Department, in all the campaigns of this war, no disaster has
ever befallen our army from want of ordnance stores.
From the Richmond and the various other depots throughout
the States, come all the various grades of cannon, from the mountain howitzer to
the columbiad; all small arms; all cavalry equipment for man and horse; all
artillery equipments, and all ammunition for infantry, artillery and cavalry.
The industry and skill which have produced these results
deserve all praise and every reasonable reward which an appreciative Government
can bestow. And when to these are added a personal and professional courtesy,
after which many other departments might pattern, we have not said one word to
which every man will not assent who has transactions with this Department.
In point of numbers the Chief of Ordnance commands more men
than any division in the army. In point of scientific attainments his duties
require more knowledge than any branch of the service - and yet his rank is only
that or Colonel, while the Chiefs of the Conscript bureau and the
Quartermaster’s Department have been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
We hope it may be the pleasure of the Congress to examine into the Ordnance
Department, and where investigations to hunt out fraud and peculation are so
numerous, one may be instituted to promote and command the skill, energy, zeal
and faithfulness of the Chief of Ordnance and his subordinate officers.
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