The following documents are monthly summaries of the work done by the various departments of the Macon Armory. The statements were forwarded to Chief of Ordnance Gorgas from Superintendent Burton. The summary statements are extracted from bound volumes at National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 109, Chapter IV. The following reports are included:
Summary Statement of Work Done at Macon Armory, August 23, 1862
In compliance with your instructions of the 14th inst., I have the honor to present for your information the following statement with reference to the progress of the work undertaken at this armory.
On the 1st of July ult. I made an agreement in writing with the representatives of the city of Macon, granting for the use of the C. S. Govt., the premises known as the "Old Depot" of the Macon & Western R. R., for such period as the Govt. may require them for temporary purposes at the rent of $lOOO per year. These premises include about 3 acres of land, graded perfectly level-one brick bldg., 130 X 33 feet, one story high, formerly used as offices, and one wood bldg., about 150 X 20 feet, formerly used as car shed, also the use of another brick bldg., about 100 X 33 feet one story high, formerly used as an Engine & car house, and distant from the before mentioned premises about one fourth of a mile. At the time of my making the arrangement for the use of these premises the old depot bldg., was occupied by Capt. R. M. Cuyler, Comdg., Macon Arsenal, as a magazine for powder and ammunition, and it was agreed between that officer and myself that he should have the use of the outer brick bldg. for his purposes in order that I might have the old depot bldg., for the purpose of erecting therein the set of stock machinery from the Richmond armory. In order to carry this arrangement into effect it was necessary to make considerable repairs to the outer bldg., requiring nearly three weeks to accomplish. This delay retarded my progress this length of time much to my regret, but it was unavoidable. Having obtained possession of the depot bldg., it became necessary to lower the entire floor two feet in order to obtain the requisite height inside, and also to replace the wide doors in the walls of the bldg. with suitable frames & windows. Also to erect a row of posts along the center of the length of the bldg., to carry the line of shafting all of which has been accomplished, and an excellent shop for the purpose is the result. The stock machinery has all been unboxed and so far as yet as contained, but one machine has been injured in transportation here and that one has been repaired. All these machines are now in place, and much of the driving shafting, etc., erected, inclusive of the mainline shafting and all will be ready to put into operation by the last of next week, or by the time I receive some gunstocks - none of which have yet reached here. The steam engine received from Knoxville, Tenn., along with Maxwell's machinery, has been put in complete order, and is now in place complete, ready for use. I have erected a new boiler from Vicksburg, Miss., selected from Reading's lot of machinery and have sunk a well 30 feet in depth from which I shall obtain a good supply of water for steam purposes. A brick boiler and engine house is now being erected to cover the above and will be complete in three days' time, I have also erected a brick chimney 61 feet high adjoining the boiler house. I shall get steam up as soon as the boiler house is completed say in 3 or 4 days from now, and will then be ready to go on regularly with the production of stocks in the machined state. The failure to receive the assistance of several of the workmen from Richmond accustomed to the use of the stock machines may retard my progress to some extent but I hope to soon educate others who will replace them. It is my purpose to commence as soon as possible, the manufacture of the machinery for the new Armory, and with this view I contemplate the erection of a frame bldg., 200 X 35 feet to be used as a forging shop and will contain 12 forges. A third bldg. will also be required 90 X 33 feet, one story high, to be used as a store house for gunstocks and other stores and materials not in current service. The timber for all these bldgs. is now on the ground here; the large bldg. for machine shop is nearly all framed and the brick foundation is laid ready for erection of frame which will commence in one week's time from now. I hope to have this bldg. ready to receive machinery in about 3 or 4 weeks' time from now. The other two bldgs. - being much smaller, and but one story high-will not require long to frame, and erect, and will be ready I expect about the same time as the large bldg. The whole of the premises have been enclosed with a strong vertical board fence 6 feet high. I have employed to a great extent, negro carpenters in the framing and erecting of the bldgs. and I am pleased to state that I have found their employment very satisfactory indeed. The machinery assigned to my use from Holly Springs, Miss., Richmond, Va., and Raleigh, N. C., has all arrived and a force is now unboxing it and cleaning and putting it in order. That from Holly Springs is in very bad condition owing to bad packing and rough usage in transportation, an inventory is being taken of everything received from Holly Springs on the completion of which I shall receipt for the property to Maj. W. L. Brown. I see no difficulty to be apprehended in the construction of the machinery for the new Armory, provided the mechanics can be obtained, many of whom are now in the army, and it will be necessary to resort to some ready means of selecting them and detailing them for special duty as mechanics in this armory. The present routine in force through the War Dept. at Richmond seems to be too slow and uncertain. Feeling the necessity of erecting the stock machiners in the shortest time possible, I directed all my energies and attention to that end, and now that this is about being accomplished, I shall at once take up the subject of the erection of the main works for the armory proper. I have requested the city to survey the site for the armory, which will be done as soon as an engineer can be found to do it on the completion of which, a plan will be forwarded to you. Also plans and elevations of the proposed buildings as soon as their character, etc., has been decided upon.
It gives me much pleasure to state that the utmost good feelings is manifested towards the enterprise. I am charged with by the citizens of this city generally, and my experience as far has been satisfactory, and I have every reason to believe that the selection of this point as a location for the armory will be attended with results satisfactory to the Govt.
I will report to you monthly the progress made at this Armory as instructed by you.
Summary Statement of Work Done at Macon Armory, October 16, 1862
I have the honor to transmit enclosed herewith, a copy of the Title Deed, conveying to the C. S., the ground donated by the City of Macon, for the purposes of an armory together with tracings of the map and profiles of the same as made and determined by the engineer employed by me to make the survey. Upon referring to the map, you will find the proposed site for the armory bldgs. indicated approximately by the outline in red ink, this being the most eligible spot for them-the ground being generally more or less "rolling" in character. The pile of bldgs. will cover an area of about 5 acres and on the spot indicated, I shall be able to secure the desired quantity of sufficiently level ground.
The branch represented as running parallel with Hazel St., is a never failing stream and from this branch I propose to derive the necessary supply of water for steam and other purposes. You will observe that I have so arranged it as to control this branch exclusively, as it is included in the ceded ground the whole length of that side of the tract, thus preventing any interference with the water supply by outside parties. The highest portion of the ground lies along the line of Calhoun St., and here will be the best site for Officers' Quarters. In this connection I respectfully suggest the desirableness of acquiring the Square numbered ~ on the map, which can be accomplished by purchase from the city, at a cost of $7000 to $8000. The Square contains 4 acres, and embraces the highest point of ground in the immediate vicinity, and is bounded on all sides by wide streets. This square would afford beautiful sites for quarters and were it purchased at the maximum price above quoted, the Govt. would be possessed of over 46 acres of valuable land for the purposes of the Armory at the very moderate cost of $8000, and which at present prices is worth at least 5 times that sum. I respectfully recommend that purchase of square ~ for the reasons stated and solicit your instructions at your earliest convenience in reference thereto. I am preparing to enclose the whole tract of 42 'A acres with a temporary but substantial board fence 8 feet high, and a portion of the lumber for that purpose is now on the ground ~ the balance is under contract and will be delivered in a week or two. As it will be necessary that some responsible person should reside upon the spot and take care of the Govt. property thereon, I propose to erect one or two frame cottages of 4 rooms each, at a cost not to exceed $1200 to $1500 each which may be rented to, say the foreman of labourers and the foreman of carpenters, at a moderate rent. There are at present no bldgs. of any description on the land herein referred to. At the present time I am considering the subject of the character and style of armory bldgs. to be erected. The difficulties of the present times will make it necessary to confine the style to one of a comparatively plain character. The supply of mechanics of the necessary high degree of skill, is so small that were bldgs. of an elaborate style attempted, I fear their erection would be entirely too slow an operation. I state this now in order to prepare you for the plans and drawings of the proposed bldgs. which I shall submit to you as soon as they can be completed, and which will exhibit a plain but bold style of architecture. I have made a contract for three millions of bricks at the price of $l1.00 per 1000 delivered at the Armory, and expect to have nearly one-third delivered this fall; the deliveries being already commenced.
The principal temporary bldg., erected upon the ground rented from the city of Macon is about completed and the lines of shafting are now being erected in it ~ and the removal of machinery into it is in progress. In a week or ten days' time I hope to have some of the machines running. The framing of the two minor bldgs. (Smith's shop and storehouse) is in progress, and will not require long to complete being but one story high. I have received what portion of Reading's Machinery I desired but I shall be much inconvenienced in consequence of numerous and important parts of some of the machines being lost. The machines are useless until these parts can be replaced. I have also received some machinery from Knoxville, Tenn. (Maxwell's), most of which is in the same condition as Reading's. I have received but a small portion of the machines, etc., etc., enumerated in the list I received from you before I left Richmond, being that which was turned over to the Govt., from Knoxville.
Capt. Wright states that he has, however, forwarded all the machinery he received from that source.
The mfgr. of gun stocks at the armory progresses currently, and satisfactorily and in order to secure a supply for the Richmond Armory as early as possible, I am running that dept. extra hours, but morning & evening. I shall soon forward 1000 stocks in charge of special messenger.
I experience much difficulty in obtaining the mechanics I desire (smiths & machinists) and the effect of this difficulty upon my future operations I shall make the subject of a future letter to be addressed to you at an early day, and in which I shall take occasion to offer some suggestions by which the difficulty may be possibly overcome.
Summary Statement of Work Done at Macon Armory, January 10, 1863
I have the honor to present the following statement of work done at this Armory since my last report of Oct. 16th, 1862. The temporary bldgs., erected on the ground rented from the city of Macon, has been quite completed, and all the machinery has been repaired, put in working order, and erected, ready for use. The machine-shop, 200 X 25 feet, 2 stories high, is now full of excellent machinery, propelled by 400 ft. of main line shafting & pullies. This shop is capable of employing 150 machinists. The smith's shop has also been completed, 100 X 35 ft., 1 story high, fan blast, and blast pipe of wood laid down, and 8 cast iron forges of a new pattern gotten up at this Armory, erected, and ready for use. A store house for stocks, and other stores & materials, has been erected & is now occupied. All of these bldgs. being of frame have been well whitewashed, & present a neat appearance. The stock machinery is kept steadily at work early & late, and regular monthly supplies of stocks have been, and will continue to be forwarded on to Richmond. A messenger will leave on Monday evening next, in charge of 1008 stocks, for rifled musket, and 432 for Razeed carbine for the Richmond Armory. The fabrication of machinery has been commenced, and will be pushed forward as rapidly as the limited force at my command will permit. In pursuance of your authority as contained in your letter of the 26th Oct., I have purchased block ~ plan of the city of Macon, containing 4 acres at the price of $8010, and have rec'd. title deed for the same, a copy of which I enclose herewith for your information. It will afford an excellent site on which to erect officers' quarters. In accordance with the conditions of the grant of land for Armory purposes by the city of Macon, I have constructed a good road along the line of the Macon & West. Rwy., in order to divert the travel of vehicles which previously was immediately across the armory grounds. This enables me to enclose the grounds which is now in progress, the posts being nearly all planted for the temporary fence. The whole fence will be completed in a few weeks. Permanent corner stones of granite properly marked with sunk letters have been planted at the angles of the armory grounds. The work of grading the ground for the site of the armory bldgs. has been commenced but a sufficiently large force cannot be employed for the want of tools (shovels & picks) which I have not yet been able to procure. A contract has been entered into for the stone work, of the foundations of the armory bldgs., and the blasting of the necessary stone has been commenced. A contract has also been made for the supply of 5000 barrels best quality lime at a reasonable price to be delivered as required. The framing of two cottages to be erected on the armory grounds has been commenced and is well advanced. Preparations are in progress for the introduction into the Armory grounds of a siding from the M. & W. Rwy., which will greatly facilitate the delivery of materials for bldg., etc. At the present time, I am receiving proposals for the supply of bricks but I find parties unwilling to contract for articles to be delivered next summer, except on such terms as amount almost to extortion. If I find that I can not make satisfactory contracts for bricks I must again make an effort to arrange to make them myself. I much prefer to have them supplied by contract, however, for several reasons. A conditional contract has been entered into for the supply of roofing slate, the condition being that the Govt. will detail four men from the army whose services are necessary to the contractor.
At the present time I find it impossible to get supplies of coal from Chattanooga in consequence of the difficulties of transportation. I have orders there now for 2500 bushels of coal, none of which I can get, and I am compelled to borrow from Major Cuyler, Comdg. Macon Arsenal, who is also running short of coal. I shall be glad if this difficulty can be removed so that supplies of coal can be obtained, at least sufficient to keep us going.
In my report to you of the 16th Oct., last, I referred to the great difficulty experienced in the effort to obtain the services of competent machinists, and blacksmiths, in sufficient numbers. I regret to have to state that the same difficulty continues to exist to the great detriment of the progress of the work I am charged with in part viz: the construction of the necessary machinery for this armory. I have feared this difficulty from the beginning as being one entirely out of my power to overcome. I could now employ 170 machinists, and smiths. I have but about 35, and cannot obtain more and the Sec. of War, declines to grant details of men from the Army when confronting the enemy, under which circumstances, the greater portion of our Army is now placed. If I could command the workmen, the machinery can be constructed here. If the workmen can not be had the machinery can not be made here. The question which suggests itself then is, how can it be obtained? I have given this subject much thought and the result is my conviction that it can be obtained from England. I know of large machine shops in England in which I had much of the machinery for the Enfield Armory constructed, and I have no doubt but that contracts could be entered into with the proprietors of these shops for the construction of much of the machinery required for this armory. I regard it as absolutely necessary to go to England for the large steam engines required for propelling the armory machinery as there are no shops now in the Confederacy capable of constructmg such as are required, except the Tredegar Iron Works at Richmond, which are necessarily otherwise employed. The machinery for barrel rolling and welding would also have to be obtained from England as it has never been made in this country. Looking at the question in all its bearing, I am of the opinion that the best course to pursue will be to send out to Europe some thoroughly competent person with power to enter into contracts for the machinery required and also to obtain glass, hardware and other materials required for building purposes, not now to be had in the Confederacy. In the meantime, the machine shop of this armory can be kept employed in the construction of such machines as can be made here such as tilt hammers, power punches, etc. the machinery constructed abroad can be run thru the blockade with as much facility as other goods and with as little risk of loss, or it can remain in Europe until peace is declared when it will be at once available. In this way the construction of the machinery abroad would be contemporaneous with the erection of the bldgs. here, which will require at least one year to erect under the most favorable circumstances. I may add that I have consulted with several prominent officers of the Ordnance Dept., on the necessary of adopting this policy, among whom I name Col. Rains, Gen. Huger, & Major Cuyler, and they all agree with me in the views herein expressed.
Respectfully requesting your earnest consideration of these recommendations.
Summary Statement of Work Done at Macon Armory, October 23, 1863
I have the honor to present for your information the following statement of progress at this armory as I find it on resuming my command on my return from Europe.
The erection of the New Armory bldgs has not progressed as rapidly during the past summer as I had hoped. It was my expectation that the main centre building (2 stories) would have been ready for the roof by this time, but I find that only one half of the length has been raised to the height of the 1st story ready to receive the joists and girders for the 2nd floor-the laying of which will be commenced almost immediately. In the meantime the workmen have cominenced the laying of brick on the other half of the building, which will be pushed as rapidly as the limited force of bricklayers will permit. The delay is due for the most part I find to the non-delivery of bricks by the contractors in time to allow of the laying of them early in the past summer as designed. The bricks are now being delivered however more rapidly, than they can be laid and there is great difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of bricklayers. There are now employed only 13 bricklayers whilst thrice that number could be employed to advantage. I am now making every effort to increase the number but as yet without much success.
Good progress has been made with the carpenters work for these bldgs., which is much in advance of the brickwork. All the window frames required for both stories of the large bldg. in hand are completed, ready for setting in place, much of the framing is done for floors etc., and the sash and doors will be made this fall and winter, quite in time for the other work to receive them.
The progress of the stone foundations has been very satisfactory, and the contractors for this part of the work has done well. The entire foundation walls of the main centre building have been completed in good time, and good progress has been made with the laying of the foundation walls of the rear range of buildings for smithy etc., the erection of the super structures of which must be deferred until next year. Considerable grading and filling has been done around the buildings and at other points on the grounds.
The contractors for lumber have generally fulfilled their contracts and so far, there has been no delay resulting from this cause. The contractor for slate for roofing is much behind in his deliveries but I have reason to believe he has done the best he could with the limited number of slate quarriers he has been able to secure. The Govt., has not assisted him with detailed men as stipulated in the contract with him to comply with his engagements under it. At the present time, there is some difficulty in obtaining cars to transport the slate in consequence of the great demand for transportation of quartermasters and other stores for the supply of Gen. Bragg's Army. This difficulty must continue to exist as these supplies are required from this direction, which will probably be during the whole of the coming winter.
The plant of wood working machinery erected and put in operation during the past summer has been productive of much saving in the cost of the work done, and the work has been greatly facilitated. This machinery has been temporarily erected in the new Proof House, and is driven by a 15 HP steam engine purchased for the purpose. The whole of this arrangement and its results have been very satisfactory. During the current year the negro mechanics and laborers employed at this Armory have been in all cases hired by the day, but from present indications it is not probably that they can be hired next year. I have therefore determined to erect temporary negro quarters in order to be prepared to accommodate such negroes as I may be compelled to hire by the month year after Jan. 1st, 1864, and who will have to be provided with food and lodgings. I understand from Col. Cuyler that you have already granted authority for the employment of negroes this way.
The erection of a frame house of 8 rooms for the accommodation of the Master Machinist and his family is about being commenced. I believe by your authority.
It will be impossible to complete the main Armory Bldg., now in progress before next Spring, for the additional reason that the materials-glass, sheet copper, hardware, slating nails, etc which I expected to procure in England have not been supplied in consequence of the inability of Major Huse to furnish the necessary funds for this purpose.
The fabrication of the machinery reserved to be made at this Armory has likewise progressed slowly: partly in consequence of the small number of machinists, available, and partly in consequence of a portion of them having been employed in the mfgr of projectiles for Charleston.
During the past summer, the following machines have been completed and partly finished, viz:
4 machines for the 1st boring barrels, completed.
6 machines for the 1st boring barrels, partly completed.
6 machines for the 2nd boring barrels, partly completed.
3 punching presses (geared), completed.
1 cast iron trough etc., for small grindstone, completed.
2 upright jig saws and frames, completed.
Iron work for 4 trip hammers, completed.
6 spindles & pulleys for large grindstones, completed.
40 pairs hangers for counter shafts, partly completed.
1 machine for making function tubes nearly done.
Patterns for furnaces for annealing and casehardening.
Forges, stock machines, pulleys etc. etc.
In consequence of the high rate of wages now paid to machinists the fabrication of machinery is very expensive indeed, so much so as to induce me to recommend its mfgr in England, as being the cheapest means of providing it. Before my late visit to England I was not aware that the machines required for the mfgr of the gun stock were made in that country ~ but I found that the mfgr of these machines had also been introduced there, and I saw some in process of fabrication for a private concern, the workmanship of which appeared excellent. I am of the opinion that the machines of this class required for this Armory can be procured from England at less cost than they can be made for here, and with your consent I will request tenders for them by the mfgrs. I am decidedly in favor of limiting operations at this Armory to the production of such tools, fixtures, etc., as from their special character cannot be obtained from abroad-the difficulty and expense of the mfgr of everything has become so great as to strongly recommend this course to me. I respectfully request your opinion and instructions on this question. If the funds derived from the sale of cotton sent out in the vessels belonging to the Ordnance Dept., were confined to the purchase of such articles and materials as are required by the Ordnance Dept., they would be ample in my opinion for all the required purchases abroad. But I was informed in England that this had not been the case, and hence the want of funds for the purchase of materials required for this Armory.
The difficulty of doing mechanical work of any kind has become so great as to make even ordinary progress in any department impossible, and at this Armory, it pains me to have to report such slow progress. But this slow progress is inseperable from the present unfortunate condition of the whole country and hence it is almost vain to strive against it. We can only do the best we can the face of the difficulties and rest content with the result.
I append hereto for your information a statement of the number of workmen of each class at present employed at this Armory, and the rates of wages paid to each. The wages seem high but if the cost of the necessities of life continues to increase ~ as is probable, the present rates of wages will have to be increased also. This might be avoided however to a certain at least if an arrangement could be made by which the workmen could have the privilege of purchasing of the commissary; provisions at Govt. prices. I am told that this is pracised at some of the Arsenals, and I respectfully recommend to your favorable consideration the application of the same system to this armory.
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