The States Buy
The following excerpt from the May 6, 1861 issue of the Cincinnati Daily Gazette displays Ohio’s role in arming its troops. Governor Dennison sent representatives to New York to buy arms, as was a common practice among states. Enfield Rifles were one of the several foreign-made arms bought at the beginning of the war by the states. Unlike rifles, most carbines, such as the Sharps, were bought from companies within the United States.
"Arms at Columbus.
[From the Fact of the 4th.]
Yesterday 819 boxes of arms and ammunition arrived here per freight train, consigned
to Gov. Dennison; also four blankets per American Express Company. The American Express
Company also brought four boxes of arms this A.M., and the Adams Express Company eight
boxes of arms. Invoices were received here last evening of 7,000 more stand of arms from the
Westervleit Armory, N.Y. Quarter-Master Gen. Wood, on his recent visit to New York,
purchased for the use of the State of Ohio, 2,000 Enfield rifles; 1,000 Sharpe’s carbines, new
pattern; 2,000 Sharpe’s rifles with sword bayonets; 500 range rifles with sword bayonets, and
75 dragoon sabres. An order has been sent to Europe for one hundred thousand dollars;
worth of Enfield rifles, which are daily expected to arrive.”
In the above passage, Ohio and New York Armories are working with each other rather than competing. Also, above is an example of the lengths that the state was willing to go to obtain arms for their troops.
In the April 15, 1861 Special Edition of the Cincinnati Daily Gazette's, the following message updates the readers about Ohio’s war budget of $450,000 just for the arms and equipment. Governor Dennison worked with the Ohio legislature to declare a budget for Ohio’s procurement of arms.
“Message from GOV. DENNISON.
“The governor has transmitted the following message to both Houses:
“[… ]I earnestly recommend also, that an appropriation, of not less than four hundred and
fifty thousand dollars, be immediately made for the purchase of arms and equipments for
the use of the volunteer militia of the State. I need not remind you of the pressing exigency
for the prompt organization and arming the military force of the State. Accompanying this
communication, you will find a statement of the Quarter Master General relative to the
condition of the public arms.
[Signed.] W. Dennison.”
Along with laying out the state budget, Governor Dennison of Ohio stressed the urgency to provide arms to Ohio soldiers. Here, as governor, Dennison reflects the states’ feeling of duty to supply fully armed troops for service to the Union. As seen in the governor’s message to his state legislature, many states did not want to wait to arm troops. That enthusiasm was then adopted by the federal government, starting in 1862.
a Both of these articles can be found at the Cincinnati History Library located in the Cincinnati Museum Center.
A Look Through Newspapersa