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REPORT OF THE CHIEF OF ORDNANCE.
WAR DEPARTMENT, ORDNANCE OFFICE,
Washington, October 1, 1886. SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the principal operations of the Ordnance Department during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1886, with such remarks and recommendations as the interests of this branch of the military service seem to require.
The fiscal resources and expenditures of the Department during the year were as follows, viz: Amount in the Treasury to the credit of the appropriations on June 30, 1885....
$532, 693 92 Amount in the Treasury not reported to the credit of the appropriations on June 30, 1885....
6, 819 21 Amount in Government depositories to the credit of disbursing officers and others on June 30, 1885.......
233, 565 74 Amount of appropriations for the service of the fiscal year ended June 30, 1886.......
... 1,931, 525 20 Amount refunded to ordnance appropriations in settlement of accounts during the year ended June 30, 1886.......
11, 059 99 Gross amount received during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1886, from
sales to officers; from rents; from collections from troops on account of losses of, or damage to, ordnance stores; from Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company; from powder and projectiles (proceeds of sales); from sales of condemned stores; from testing machine, and from all other sources not before mentioned .
66,541 93 Total ....
2,782, 205 99 Amount of expenditures during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1886, in
cluding expenses attending sales of condemned stores, powder, and projectiles, &c
1,896, 862 92 Amount deposited in Treasury during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1886, as proceeds of sales of Government property...
43,687 10 Amount transferred from ordnance appropriations in settlement of accounts during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1886......
2,556 99 Amount turned in to the surplus fund on June 30, 1886...
65, 662 26 Amount in Government depositories to the credit of disbursing officers and others on June 30, 1886....
226, 835 90 Amount in the Treasury not reported to the credit of appropriations on June 30, 1886....
4,257 70 Amount in the Treasury to the credit of appropriations on June 30, 1886. 542, 343 12 Total..
2,782, 205 99 3
STATIONS AND DUTIES.
The stations and duties of the officers of the Ordnance Department are as follows: Four at the Ordnance Office; thirty-nine at the arsenals, armory, and powder depots; nine on the Ordnance Board and at the foundries; six at the several military headquarters and ordnance depots; four at the Military Academy; one under the orders of the Secretary the Interior; one in the Life-Saving Service, under the Secretary of the Treasury.
The Ordnance Department provides the armament for our sea-coast defenses, and arms and other ordnance stores for the Army, the militia, the Marine Corps, all other Executive Departments to protect public money and property, and the forty colleges authorized by law to receive them for instruction.
During the fiscal year ended June 30, 1886, 39,527 rifles, carbines, and shotguns have been manufactured at the National Armory. Repairing arms, providing spare parts, making swords, sabers, and miscellaneous articles must be mentioned as among its operations.
The Lee, Chaffee-Reece, and Hotchkiss magazine rifles had been in the hands of troops for trial during the previous year. In December last the reports of their trial baving been received and properly tabulated and digested, (Appendix 35), the following report was made by this Office to the honorable Secretary of War:
ORDNANCE OFFICE, WAR DEPARTMENT,
Washington, D. C., December 15, 1885. The honorable the SECRETARY OF WAR:
SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a tabular statement of the results reached in the trial of a number of each of the magazine rifles issued to the troops. These guns—the Lee, Chaffee-Reece, and Hotchkiss were recommended for trial, in the order named, by a board of officers convened in 1881 under authority of law, and were distributed to the Army for the purpose by the Lieutenant-General of the Army.
The reports from 149 companies have been received, examined and tabulated, and tbe results are as follows:
Comparing the three magazine guns with each other the reports are :
For the Lee 55, Chaffee-Reece 14, Hotchkiss 26. As magazine guns therefore the reports are largely in favor of the Lee.
Comparing the magazine guns with each other and with the Springfield service rifle as single loaders, the preference is for the Springfield, as follows: For the Lee 5, Chaffee-Reece 0, Hotchkiss 1, Springfield 21.
Comparing the magazine guns and the Springfield for all uses, the preference is for the Lee 10, Chaffee-Reece 3, Hotchkiss 4, and the Springfield 46-being largely in favor of the Springfield.
In the column of objections in the tabular statement, will be found a brief of the objections given in each report.
After a careful consideration of these reports, I am satisfied that neither of these magazine guns should be adopted and substituted for the Springfield rifle as the arm for the service.
I have been and am an advocate for a magazine gun, but it would seem the part of wisdom to postpone for the present any further efforts towards the adoption of a suitable magazine arm for the service. The Springfield rifle gives such general satisfaction to the Army that we can safely wait a reasonable time for further developments of magazine systems. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. V. BENET,
Brigadier-General, Chief of Ordnance. The 1,000 rod-bayonet rifles, new model, and improved sights, which have been issued are still under trial by the troops.
The attention of the Department having been called to the occasional inaccurate shooting of the carbine cartridge through Lieut. Frank Baker, the officer in charge of the proof of ammunition at the Frankford Arsenal, a series of trials was ordered with a view to discover and correct the cause of the inaccuracy. An exhaustive report on the subject prepared by that officer (Appendix 34) has led to the omission of the wads from future manufacture. Provision has been made to meet the changes required in both bench and hand reloading tools for reloading this ammunition.
The Morse cartridge, which has been under consideration by the Department for a number of years, has recently been so far perfected through the efforts of Mr. Morse that it has been decided to issue a number for trial with the troops. The manufacture of a suitable number for this purpose is now in progress at the Frankford Arsenal and they will be ready for issue at an early date.
During the past year forty-eight sets of bench reloading tools for me. tallic ammunition have been issued to posts, comprising all those of five or more companies and including eight posts of four or a less number of companies.
The gold and silver medals offered as rewards for successful marksmanship in the annual department and division rifle contests have, as usual, been issued to the different headquarters in advance of the date of the contests, thus insuring their formal presentation to the fortunate competitors at the first parade after the conclusion of the competition.
During the year the new skirmish targets prescribed by Blunt's “ Rifle and Carbine Firing” have been manufactured at the Rock Island Arsenal and supplied to the Army. They have been very generally approved and are so carefully made that they will probably meet all requirements in this respect for several years to come.
In consequence of the growing interest taken by the Army in rifle firing and the more general belief as to its great importance and necessity which is now prevalent, the demand upon this Department for the different materials requisite for practice has greatly increased. The
work of manufacture has, however, been so systematized that the Department has been able to promptly meet all demands and furnish liberal supplies, and as a consequence the rifle ranges at the different posts are now better equipped generally than at any previous time.
There is little doubt that at the present time the facilities offered to the soldiers of our Army are greater and more perfect than those enjoyed by other armies, and the result of having practically an army of marksmen is due in a great degree to this liberal supply of all the material for this most important element of the soldier's education-the effective use of his rifle.
THE MILITIA. At the last session of Congress a bill increasing the annual appropriation for arming and equipping the militia to $600,000 passed the Senate, and is now pending in the House with an amendment fixing the amount at $400,000. This matter has been so often brought to the attention of Congress that the reiteration of the obvious reasons in fayor of a more liberal appropriation is unnecessary. It is hoped that the bill now pending, with or without amendment, may become a law.
ARMOR PLATE EXPERIMENTS AT SPEZIA. The necessary permission having been obtained from the Italian Government for representatives of the United States Government to be present at the trials, to take place at Spezia, of Gruson's chilled iron armor under the fire of the 100-ton gun, Capt. D. A. Lyle, Ordnance Department, was on the recommendation of this office, directed by the War Department to proceed to that place to witness the trials. These highly important trials occurred during the spring, and resulted in a success for the chilled iron armor against the forged steel projectiles from the 100 ton gun. Captain Lyle has submitted to the Department an interesting report on the trials, which will be published at an early day.
The aggregate amount appropriated for the past fiscal year under the heading “Ordnance, Ordnance Stores, &c.," was $400,000, and for some of the objects specified the amounts were found to be insufficient. The aggregate amount appropriated under this head for the present fiscal year is only $255,000—a reduction of about 40 per cent. from last year. I have stated in the estimates submitted for the next year that this sam is wholly inadequate, and needed work and manufactures cannot be undertaken in consequence.
Section 3709, Revised Statutes, requires all supplies to be procured after due advertisement and competitive bidding. This law enacted in 1861, when the contracts and purchases were of great magnitude, had