From the Richmond Enquirer, 11/15/1864


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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