The Ordnance Department




The letters below are between Chief of Ordnance Ripley, Assisstent Secretary of War Thomas Scott, and Pennsylvania Governor A. G. Curtin. They give insight on how difficult procuring weapons actually was.




The following letter demonstrates the Ordnance Department’s, and its contemporary leader’s, sentiment against carbines. Ripley used some practical excuses against breechloaders, such as the carbines being more expensive than muzzleloaders, and he limited breech-loading carbines to cavalry use only.

PHOTO: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Governor Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania c.1855-1865

And a Correspondence

PHOTO: AUTOBIOGRAPHY

OF ANDREW CARNEGIE; PROJECT GUTENBURG

Assistant Secretary of War Colonel Thomas A. Scott

 

ORDNANCE OFFICE,  1
Washington, August 17, 1861.

THOMAS A. SCOTT, Esq.,

Assistant Secretary of War:

SIR: I have carefully considered the proposition of Mr. T. Poultney to furnish 10,000 of Smith’s patent breech-loading carbines at $35 each. I would gladly avail myself of any opportunity of obtaining at this time, at any price not beyond reason, such arms as are required for the troops called into the service. The carbine is only, however, a cavalry arm. It is used only by dragoons when dismounted and fighting on foot, and the orders in the Division of the Potomac are to arm the cavalry with pistols and sabers only. There have been arrangements made already for procuring 17,000 carbines, which number will be sufficient to arm all the troops for which such an arm properly pertains. I do not think, therefore, that there is an exigency existing for arrangements to secure a larger supply, deliverable as Mr. Poultney proposes. The price I consider too high, and the fact that $35 each was agreed to be paid for a small parcel of 300 does not apply to an order for large quantities. In view of all these circumstances, it is submitted whether it will be advisable to accept a proposition involving so large an expenditure ($350,000) as that of Mr. Poultney does. I respectfully request instructions on the subject.

Respectfully, &c.,
JAS. W. RIPLEY,
Brigadier-General.



The following correspondences demonstrates the relationship between state and federal governments as well as the desperate need to have every soldier armed with a weapon before allowing the already equipped regiments another weapon.

 

​                                                                                         HARRISBURG, November 22, 1861 2

Col. T. A. SCOTT,
Assistant Secretary of War:



You gave Palmer an order for pistols and sabers, but not carbines, of which you are having over 100 per day made at Hartford. This company should by all means have the carbine, according to the request of General Anderson, appended to the original plan of organization. Pennsylvania has furnished 12,000 stand of arms for the service of the General Government, and asks as a matter of reciprocity that you should at least arm this company properly. Please answer saying that Palmer may make a requisition on General Ripley for the 100 carbines. They want to move very shortly.

A. G. CURTIN,
Governor.



                                                                                             HARRISBURG, November 26, 1861. 4 Hon. THOMAS A. SCOTT,
Assistant Secretary of War:


Captain Palmer is very anxious to get carbines. As you asked for the commission and appointed the officers, can you not give them to him? I have not purchased arms and the circular asks me not to purchase. Can you give them to him and charge them to the State? Answer, as captain is here.

                                                                                               A. G. CURTIN,
                                                                                                   Governor of Pennsylvania.



                                                                                                WAR DEPARTMENT,
  5
                                                                                                     
 November 26, 1861.


A. G. CURTIN,
Harrisburg:


Tell Mr. Palmer that we will give him the carbines as soon as we are able. Having swords and pistols, they must wait until others who have no arms are supplied.
 

THOMAS A. SCOTT.





                                                                                                                                                                  WAR DEPARTMENT, 3
                                                                                                                                                                        Washington City, November 23, 1861.


Governor CURTIN,
Harrisburg, Pa.:


The Government is in imperative need of all the arms it has. Mr. Palmer’s command already has pistols and sabers and cannot be given carbines also until others which have no arms are supplied.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                     THOMAS A. SCOTT.

PHOTO FOUND ON WIKIPEDIEA 

Chief of Ordnance James Wolfe Ripley

1 Chief of Ordnance Grig. Gen. James Ripley to Assistant Secretary of War Col. Thomas A. Scott, Aug. 17, 1861, quoted in Robert N. Scott, “Correspondence, Orders, Reports, and Returns of the Union Authorities from November 1, 1860 to March 31, 1862,” Series III, Vol I,The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington D.C.: Government Publishing Office, 1880-1901), 423, accessed through http://www.simmonsgames.com/research/authors/USWarDept/ORA/OR-S3-V1.html



2 Pennsylvania Gov. Andrew G. Curtin to Col. Thomas A. Scott, November 22, 1861, quoted in Robert N. Scott, “Correspondence, Orders, Reports, and Returns of the Union Authorities from November 1, 1860 to March 31, 1862,” Series III, Vol I,The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington D.C.: Government Publishing Office, 1880-1901), 669, accessed through http://www.simmonsgames.com/research/authors/USWarDept/ORA/OR-S3-V1.html



3  Assistant Secretary of War Col. Thomas A. Scott to Pennsylvania Gov. Andrew Curtin, November 23, 1861, quoted in Robert N. Scott, “Correspondence, Orders, Reports, and Returns of the Union Authorities from November 1, 1860 to March 31, 1862,” Series III, Vol I,The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington D.C.: Government Publishing Office, 1880-1901), 672, accessed through http://www.simmonsgames.com/research/authors/USWarDept/ORA/OR-S3-V1.html



4 Pennsylvania Gov. Andrew Curtin to Assistant Secretary of War Col. Thomas A. Scott, November 26, 1861, quoted in Robert N. Scott,“Correspondence, Orders, Reports, and Returns of the Union Authorities from November 1, 1860 to March 31, 1862,” Series III, Vol I,The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington D.C.: Government Publishing Office, 1880-1901), 678, accessed through http://www.simmonsgames.com/research/authors/USWarDept/ORA/OR-S3-V1.html



5 Assistant Secretary of War Col. Thomas A. Scott to Pennsylvania Gov. Andrew Curtin, November 26, 1861, quoted in Robert N. Scott, “Correspondence, Orders, Reports, and Returns of the Union Authorities from November 1, 1860 to March 31, 1862,” Series III, Vol I,The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington D.C.: Government Publishing Office, 1880-1901), 678, accessed through http://www.simmonsgames.com/research/authors/USWarDept/ORA/OR-S3-V1.html



The Ordnance
Department: