Extracts from 33rd Congress, 1st Session, House of Representatives, Miscellaneous
SUPERINTENDENTS OF NATIONAL ARMORIES.
TESTIMONY AND DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
The management of the national armories, taken before the select committee
of the House of Representatives appointed February 13, 1854.
MAY 18, 1854. - Ordered to be printed.
SUPERINTENDENTS OF NATIONAL ARMORIES.
TESTIMONY AND DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
The management of the national armories, taken before the select committee of the House of Representatives appointed February 13, 1854.
MAY 18, 1854. - Ordered to be printed.
Journal of the select committee, of seven members, appointed by the Speaker in pursuance of the following resolution of the House of Representatives, passed February 13, 1854:
On motion of Mr. STANTON, of Kentucky,
Resolved, That a special committee of seven members be appointed by the Speaker, to inquire and report to this House whether the appointment of military officers to superintend the manufacture of firearms at the national armories, the construction of light-houses, works of river and harbor improvement, the building of custom-houses and post offices, the construction of water-works for the cities of Washington and Georgetown, the extension of the United States Capitol, and the survey and management of works of internal improvement by the States, is compatible with the public interest, and consistent with the nature and character of our civil government; that said committee also inquire, and report to this House, how many of these military officers in civil employment are intrusted with the disbursement of the public funds without bond and security, and to what extent they have been allowed to make contracts, and purchase materials for the public use, without the usual advertisement, and how their accounts are settled at the public treasury; that said committee further inquire whether the present embarrassment of the Engineer department, for want of officers, complained of in the annual report of the colonel of the corps, is not occasioned by the withdrawal of said officers from their proper duties and their employment in civil services, and whether it is expedient, under the circumstances, to grant an increase of said corps; and that said committee have power to send for persons and papers.
Ordered, That Mr. Stanton of Kentucky, Mr. Dawson of Pennsylvania, Mr. Dickinson of Massachusetts, Mr. Faulkner of Virginia, Mr. Vansant of Maryland, Mr. Sapp of Ohio, and Mr. Keitt of South Carolina constitute said committee.
J. W. FORNEY,
Clerk of the House of Representatives.
. . .
Colonel Benjamin Moore being duly sworn, testified as follows:
I was about nineteen years master-armorer at the Harper's Ferry armory - ten years and nine months under civil superintendence, the remainder of the time under military superintendence. Gen. George Rust and Colonel Edward Lucas were the civil and Major H. K. Craig and Major John Symington the military superintendents under whom served.
The duties of the master-armorer are defined in the 27th article of the Ordnance Regulations.
In my estimation, the superintendent of an armory should be acquainted with the manufacture of arms.
During the time I was under the civil system, the rules were printed and posted up in the shops. Under the military system, they were written in the beginning of the books of prices, kept in the hands of the inspectors. I think they were also hung up in the inspectors' rooms. They were not published. The books alluded to did not embrace every rule. There were unwritten rules: for instance, one against smoking, one for turning some visitors out, and several other rules. The rule turning persons of a certain kind out created a great deal of excitement; but Major Symington said if the inspectors did not turn them out "he would get inspectors that would." The Major tried to get a man out himself, but he did not succeed. He ordered another man out, who had homespun clothes on.
Under the civil system, on account of there being no market in Harper's Ferry, the countrymen were permitted to pass through the shops and strike a trade (without bringing their articles along) for their meat &c., with the men. The military system prohibited this privilege, and caused thereby a great deal of excitement at Harper's Ferry and in the country, particularly in the county of Westmoreland. This thing occurred so seldom, that it was not detrimental to the public interest.
The rules were as familiar to the men under the military as they were under the civil system.
The men executed more work under the civil than they did under the military system. They had some inducement to work under that system, and did work to the extent of their abilities.
The piece-work plan originated under the civil system, and was beneficial, because it influenced men to work the most in the least time; because they were paid for the work they did, without reference to the time they occupied in doing it.
Under the military system, men were often discharged because the money had run out. This was owing to the misjudgement of the superintendent in buying more materials than would last the year out, and in placing more men at work than was necessary. In Major Symington's time, the mismanagement was very apparent. A practical man would only buy sufficient material to last, and would only place as many men on the work as would consume the appropriation in a year. This would preclude the necessity of discharging men.
Military men could scarcely have practical knowledge. Major Craig went around and saw men make arms, but that would not suffice; a man must know how to work with the tools before he can be practical. A mechanic would be a better superintendent than a theoretical man, because he would see a great many little things going wrong about a shop that a scientific man would not see.
The scientific man, if not on good terms with his sub-superintendents would have to consult men outside upon matters he was not clear upon; whereas a practical man, knowing things himself, would have less reason to do so. If I were to examine a theorist - say the Secretary of War - to display his ignorance of the practical operations of the manufacture of arms, I would ask him what is the best material for making the barrel of a gun? He would answer, the best iron. I would then ask him, after a gun-barrel were made of the best iron and tested, how he knew it would stand; because I can take the best iron and anneal it so as to make it like cold, short iron, that would stand powder-proof, but with a little more strain would burst. In 1810, thirty guns were reported to have been tested at the Springfield armory, seven-tenths of which bursted at a subsequent test.
Question by Mr. Dickinson. What practical experience had General Rust and Colonel Lucas, the civil superintendents mentioned?
Answer. None; for they were not mechanics.
Question. Did they, then, have any advantage over military superintendents, so far as practical experience was concerned?
Answer. They had not.
Question by Mr. Stanton. What advantage would a practical man have over a merely scientific one, in the management of the men, and the proper execution of the work?
Answer. A very decided one, so far as regards the quality of the arms; whether they are well made or not, whether the material and workmanship are good, and whether the men in the shop are good workmen. An incident bearing on the question I will here relate. An officer, educated at West Point, had a truck with an iron axle-tree to move a cannon, but was unable to tell whether it would or not. He asked me, and I told him; he ought to have known himself.
Question by Mr. Dawson. Is it your experience that the best practical mechanic is the best manager of hands, and better qualified to superintend generally an establishment?
Answer. It is; provided he contains all the other essential qualities to make a good foreman.
Question by Mr. Dickinson. Is there any advantage in a civilian over a military man, independent of his being a mechanic?
Answer. There is; because the workmen do not feel well under a man with military command. To a civil superintendent he can speak as a fellow-citizen; to a military man he could not. But so far as judging of the work is concerned, unless the civilian has practical experience, he has no advantage over the military man. The civilian would save money; because, at Harper's Ferry, there were ten or twelve houses for the use of the men, as residences, under the civil system. The military men tore them down, and compelled the men to hire houses, some of them a mile and a half off. At Springfield the experience is the same.
The foregoing testimony was, until Monday, March 27, 1854, unrecorded, it having been determined by the committee to examine the witness upon certain written interrogatories, which was done, as will appear from his evidence. It was, however, ordered by the committee, on the day above mentioned, that the foregoing testimony should be entered on the record.
MICH. W. CLUSKEY,
Clerk to the Committee.
. . .
Col. Benjamin Moore, being duly sworn, testified as follows:
Question. How long have you been engaged in the government service in connexion with the national armories, and in what capacity?
Answer. I was master-armorer at Harper's Ferry for about nineteen years.
Question. During that time, how long were the armories under civil, and how long under military superintendence, and who were the officers in charge?
Answer. For ten years and nine months I was under civil superintendence; for the balance of the time under military. The civil superintendents were Gen. George Rust and Col. Edward Lucas. The military superintendents were Major H. K. Craig and Major John Symington.
Question. During the civil superintendency, was there as much order and regularity in the armory, and as much work executed, and executed as well, as under the military system?
Answer. There was very little difference, so far as the day-workmen were concerned, between the two sytems [sic], but there was a great difference in the piece-workers. Under the civil, when a piece-workman finished his day's work, which he would commence, sometimes, at 4 o'clock in the morning, he was allowed to go. Under the military system, if a piece-worker gets through with particular pieces of work until after the expiration of the regular fraction of the day, he is only allowed up to the expiration of the next fraction of the day. For instance, if he would finish his day's work five minutes after the half of a day had expired, he would have to wait until the end of the next quarter before he could leave the shop.
The civil had not the same facilities in point of machinery as the military.
The preparations for beginning a new model began under the civil, but the manufacture did not commence until the beginning of the military system.
I consider that the piece-work, as carried out under the civil, operated greatly to the advantage of the government, whilst under the military superintendency it did not, because men had not the same inducement to work when they knew they would be kept in the shop after they got through, and were fatigued with their day's labor.
Question. Were the workmen as cheerful and contented under one system as under the other? and state the effect of the two systems upon the workmen as citizens.
Answer. Under the civil system they were cheerful and contented, because they were permitted to exercise all their rights as citizens. Under the military they are not, because they dare not exercise all those rights, for fear of dismissal. As an evidence of this, Col. Craig dismissed men because they went to Washington to complain of the piece-workmen being placed upon the same level as day-workers, relative to time. He took some back, but not until they signed a solemn obligation not to hold any consultations or meetings relative to anything that might occur in the armory, or to sign any petitions to Congress relative thereto. This rule, I presume, can still be found at Harper's Ferry, though the enforcement of it gradually stopped. I saw men sign it myself.
Men's heads were cut off so suddenly, without any reason being given, that they became suspicious of each other, and were actually afraid to talk to men who had been discharged from the shop. Some of them were afraid to talk to me. Men were watched closely.
The military system decreased the value of real estate in Harper's Ferry. The tenure of employment was so uncertain in the armories, that men were afraid to invest. One woman has two stores: she used to get three hundred dollars each for them. Now she rents one for two hundred dollars, and can't rent the other.
(The government gave the privilege of purchasing their lots to the workmen, so much payable out of each month's wages. Some men who purchased these lots were dismissed by Col. Huger.) Major S. dismissed one man, a crippled soldier of the war of 1812, who was a good filer on springs. Many men were dropped, and promised that they would be taken back; but were never taken back.
Question. By whom were you removed, and was any cause assigned for your removal?
Answer. I was removed by General Taylor; but as I had, on several occasions previous, expressed a desire to the Ordnance department to resign my position, and was urged by General Cass, Col. Craig, and Col. Bomford not to resign, I became indignant at my removal, and would not ask for the cause of it.
Question. In the construction of houses and shops, and other structures for the use of the establishment, is there under the military system as much regard paid to economy as under the civil system?
Answer. No, there is not. The military superintendents spend money lavishly on their quarters. The comparison between their quarters and those occupied by the civil superintendents, is like the comparison between a palace and a cottage. Workshops were built, under the military system, beautiful in external appearance, but uncomfortable inside. They were constructed with too many windows, which made it uncomfortable to be working in them in summer-time. They were more like green-houses than workshops. One shop was built, and after it was done it was discovered to be too small for the machinery that was to go in it. I informed Major Symington that it would be too small, but he disregarded my suggestion.
Colonel Benjamin Moore's examination resumed.
Question. If the superintendent were a practical mechanic, with good executive qualities, would he have any advantage over a military officer of scientific requirements and experience in his profession, with like executive abilities in the management of labor, and the proper execution of the work?
Question objected to by Mr. Dickinson.
Mr. Faulkner asked for the yeas and nays on the motion, "Shall the question be put?" and it resulted as follows:
Yeas. - Messrs. R. H. Stanton, C. J. Faulkner, W. R. Sapp - 3.
Nays. - Messrs. E. Dickinson, L. M. Keitt, J. L. Dawson - 3.
So it was decided not to put the question.
Colonel Moore here begged leave to make an explanation in connexion with his testimony given on Monday, the 20th instant, heretofore not placed upon the record, but to-day ordered to be recorded. Leave being granted, he said:
I have worked under practical mechanics since 1816, at divers places, and under all circumstances; I have inspected arms made by private contractors, (practical mechanics,) and I can testify of the advantage they possess over men who are not mechanics, in the superintendency of armories. They are acquainted with matters in the preliminary manufacture of a musket, of which a man not a mechanic would know nothing: for instance, when a barrel was forged properly when springs were bent correctly, when a ramrod was tempered sufficiently to straighten it. He would also know the value of things. For instance, he would not have sold a hundred dozen files, which cost $4[.]50 per dozen, at $1[.]25 per dozen, as was done at Harper's Ferry.
Question. Have any improvements been made in the machinery under military, and any under civil superintendency? if so, state them.
Answer. There have been a great many improvements made under civil superintendency, most of which were, in anticipation of their usefulness, carried out after the military system obtained.
The inventive genius was more displayed under the civil than under the military superintendency, because there was more certainly in the tenure of their employment, and of their being benefited by the exercise of their genius under the civil than under the military superintendency. Men, in some instances, were compensated for their inventions under the civil; under the military superintendency they were not. The inventor of a patent bitt, a workman at the Springfield armory, under the military system, never got paid for the use of his invention, which was of the greatest benefit to the armory.
Hall, the inventor of the rifle to be loaded at the breech, and Greer made their inventions whilst they were workmen under the civil system. I am not certain as to King, the inventor. Hall died whilst he was on a furlough. He was a sub-superintendent.
Question. Have the improvements in the manufacture of arms at the armories kept pace with the improvements in private factories?
Answer. I can't answer as to private factories.
Question. Is the bearing of a military officer towards the workmen under his control such as, according to your experience and knowledge, the mechanics and workmen of the country are accustomed to in other employments?
Answer. It is not. It is quite different from the manner I have seen them treated at various places in private establishments. There they are recognised respectfully. The military treat them impolite and unkind. They are disrespectful, and sometimes repulse the men, especially when they state grievances. I have been repulsed by one military man more than I have ever been by all the civilians I ever worked under in my life put together. Major Symington has repulsed me in the most uncivil manner. He was in the habit of making a big fuss about things being done wrong, before he knew whether they were wrong or not. Sometimes there would be a necessity for a good blacksmith, but Major Symington would not employ one. He would declare that he could get workmen at $1[.]60, who were then getting $1[.]80 per day. I was dismissed by General Taylor. The repulsion of myself by Major Symington occurred in 1847 or 1848.
The examination of Colonel Moore was here concluded, and he was discharged.
It was ordered by the committee that the evidence of Colonel Moore, adduced on last Monday, be placed on record.
This is to certify that I have examined the evidence hereinbefore contained, and I find it to be the same testimony of which it purports to be a true record, said testimony having been given by me.
Mr. William H. Moore, being duly sworn, testified as follows:
Question. How long have you been engaged in the government service in connexion with the national armories, and in what capacity?
Answer. About nineteen years; eight years as a workman, and eleven years as an inspector of forged work.
Question. During that time, how long were the armories under civil, and how long under military superintendence, and who were the officers?
Answer. About eleven years under civil, and eight years under military superintendency. General George Rust and Colonel Lucas were the civil, and Major H. K. Craig and Major John Symington the military superintendents.
Question. During the civil superintendency, was there as much order and regularity in the armory, and as much work executed, and executed as well, as under the military system?
Answer. There was, though not apparently; still there was, actually. This apparent irregularity, under the civil, was owing to the piece-work system under the civil superintendency, which permitted the piece-workmen to commence work as early as they desired, (some of them went to work at four o'clock in the morning) so as to complete their day's work earlier, that they might devote the remainder of the day to their domestic or other requirements; or, as in summer time, to avoid working in the heat of the day. It is impossible for them to stand the heat of the fires in the heat of day, as every one knows the blacksmith has to strike while his iron is hot.
So far as the quantity of work done is concerned, the reports of the ordnance bureau will show that there was as much, if not more, work done under the civil than under the military superintendency. As to the quality of the arms under the civil, it is as good, according to the model then in use, as under the military superintendency. This system of piece-work, then in existence, was in accordance with the ordnance regulations. It was a good system, as it resulted in a continuation of progressive improvements.
Question. Were workmen as cheerful under one system as under the other? and state the effect of the two systems upon the workmen as citizens. Did the military superintendent always allow full amount of work done by piece-workmen?
Answer. They were not; first, on account of the change in the piece- work plan by the military superintendents, which prevented piece-workers from going to work early in the morning and completing their day's work as early as they pleased, but made them come to work at bell-ring and knock off at bell-ring, like day-workers, which was detrimental to the public interest, because, after the piece-worker had accomplished his day's work, say in six hours, he would consume the government coal keeping up fires, to make it appear that he was doing something, when he actually was doing nothing; whilst under the civil system they were more contented, because they were allowed to go to work as early as four o'clock, knock off as soon as they got through, and attend for the balance of the day to their gardens, and other domestic arrangements. The workmen generally were more contented under the civil system, because they looked upon their position as more permanent than under the military. Under the latter, they only considered themselves employed from day to day.
The superintendent under the military system did not allow, every month, the amount to the piece-workmen they were entitled to, under the tariff of prices.
It was my duty, in my department, as an inspector of forged work, to make out every month a roll containing the amount of work done by each workman, and the amount coming to him, according to tariff of prices fixed, and hand it to the master-armorer, and it would be handed by him to the superintendent. Major Symington would take the roll thus made out by me, alter the prices fixed by the tariff, and reduce considerably the amount coming to a man, and make it much lower than he had anticipated, calculating, as he naturally did upon getting the prices fixed by the regulations. This would be done without giving the man any notice. Of course, then, the next month he would only calculate upon getting as much as he was allowed the last, and would work to the extent of his energies to make up in quantity what he had lost by valuation. This effort would again be paralyzed by a further reduction some subsequent month, and thus the thing would go on reducing.
The rolls furnished by me, with the alterations of the superintendent upon their face, are in the Harper's Ferry armory. Those sent by the superintendent to the War Department did not refer to the alteration - they were mere copies of my bills, as altered. I cannot say what reason the superintendent had for altering the prices, unless it was because he thought the men were making too much. Some would make $45 per month, some $50, and others $60, if the change had not been made. This thing was done without the men being notified of it.
Major Symington had treated me with so much disrespect that I was afraid to ask him why he did it, notwithstanding some men would appeal to me, thinking I could remedy it. The system had not commenced thoroughly under Major Craig. The price-book, by which I was guided in making up my rolls, was given by me to my successor.
The names of the men who were sufferers from this system of cutting down, are Philip Ingle, Joseph McKee, John Marstellar, James O'Connor, and others whom I cannot now recollect.
There occurs to me an instance of the dissatisfaction that this system of cutting down occasioned: There was a desire to bring up the forging of the cocks, which were greatly behindhand. My father went to an excellent workman who was on that branch of the business, and tried to stimulate him to exert himself to bring the work up. He said, What is the use? as soon as my work is estimated at the end of the month, the value of it will be curtailed. My father promised him that it would not be curtailed. The end of the month came, and the amount he was stated on the pay-roll as having earned was cut down. He afterwards left the establishment.
Question. State what you know relative to the men coming to Washington to remonstrate against some change in the regulations, when Major Craig took charge.
Answer. The rule requiring piece-workmen to confine themselves to the shops from bell-ring to bell-ring, created a great deal of excitement, and caused the greater part of them to come to Washington to remonstrate. President Tyler promised that he would redress their grievance. Major Craig dismissed every man that came to Washington. They were kept out one or two weeks, when all those were taken back who would sign an obligation that they would not take exception to any regulation then in existence, or that may thereafter have been brought into existence, or hold any meeting or petition Congress relative thereto. I had to bring all the men up to sign this obligation myself, before they would be taken back.
Question. Are not most of the men who work in an armory, on account of their pursuing the execution of a particular branch of their trade, incapacitated for work generally at their trade when they leave the armory?
Answer. They are. For instance, a man works altogether at making a particular part of an arm, and knows nothing about making the balance. If, therefore, he was dismissed, he could not work at his trade, because he is only competent at a branch of it. He has, therefore, to stop at the armory, no matter how much he is cut down in the price of his work. Necessity compels him to do it.
Question. Does not the same custom prevail in private armories of one man only working on a particular branch?
Answer. I cannot say as to private factories.
Question. What effect did the military superintendency have on the workmen so far as investments in real estate were concerned?
Answer. Under the civil system, as it was the interest of the government to have it, the men looked upon their positions as permanent; under the military system they considered the tenure of their employment uncertain, and were afraid to invest. This uncertainty prevented them from buying property in Harper's Ferry, which they were in the habit of doing under the civil superintendency.
Question. Under which system were the regulations most strictly observed, the civil or the military?
Answer. They were carried out to their letter under the civil, whilst under the military system they were frequently violated.
Question. Were the regulations more rigidly observed under the civil than under the military system?
Answer. They were more rigidly observed under the civil system; I mean the printed ordnance regulations. It is true, arbitrary rules were made out by the officers, independent of the ordnance regulations, which were the cause of discipline being more rigid than under the civil system; but the ordnance regulations proper were never violated under the civil system, whilst they were frequently under the military by the superintendent himself. He had private work done for his own use, in violation of the ordnance rule. He (Major Symington) had a churn made, which he had ordered my father to have done. My father declined doing so, saying he had no authority to have a churn made in the public workshops. The churn was, however, made in one of the shops. This set a bad example to three hundred men in the shops who might, with the same propriety, make articles for their private use in the shops of the government out of government material. Major Symington had numerous articles of furniture, book-cases, clothes racks, &c., made out of government material in the government workshops, some of which articles were sold at the sale of his private furniture. Whether he ever accounted for them or not, I cannot say; but even if he did account for them to the department, the making of them was a gross violation of the regulations. Nothing of that kind was ever practised under the civil superintendency.
Question. Is the establishment managed with as much economy the government under the military superintendency as under the civil?
Answer. No, it is not. It was my duty to inspect iron and certify that I had found so much to be good, so much bad, &c. I have pronounced some iron bad, and refused to receive it, which Major Symington would afterwards receive, which would turn out to be of no use [t]he government, and would finally be sold for scraps. In building commanding officers' quarters a needless expense was incurred. Major Symington got an appropriation of $9,000 for superintendent's quarters, and $6,000 for paymaster's quarters.
The whole $15,000 was consumed upon the superintendent's quarters; in fact, more. The paymaster's quarters were also built; but how they were built, and where the money came from, I cannot say.
This new residence for the superintendent was unnecessary, as the old quarters were ample, commodious, and sufficient. In order to build the new quarters upon a certain locality, which Major Symington preferred, he pulled down Captain Hall's large, fine brick dwelling.
Under the civil system, there were about fifty houses contiguous to the armory owned by the government, which were rented to the workmen, and which brought in a large amount of money to the government. These houses were, without any sufficient reason, pulled down by the military superintendent, which compelled some of the men to go a good distance from the armory to obtain residences, and compelled them to get up before day to reach the armory at bell-ring.
The ground upon which these houses stood has not been made use of since they were pulled down. It is upon the hill-side.
The old superintendent's quarters were enclosed by a brickwall. They are not near to the site where these houses were pulled down. They had been pulled down when the new quarters were commenced.
In the building of the shops for the manufacture of arms, the superintendent would not consult the master-armorer and inspectors as to the manner in which they should be built. He would build according to his own ideas; and after he got through, the shops did not afford the same convenience as they would have done, had he taken the advice of practical men. He undertook, contrary to nature, to draw the smoke down from the smiths' fires, and centre the whole of it into a shaft, there to pass off. This would not work at all; it caused the smoke to come out in the shop. The cylindrical pipes were then put up by the superintendent to remedy the evil, but they would not answer. He then had the smiths' fire-places, which had been newly built, pulled out, and then built a separate flue to each double fire-place, running up through the roof, as was recommended in the first place. Thus three different expenditures of a large amount of money were incurred, when the necessity could have been obviated in the first place by taking advice relative to their construction. There was no examination made, as I know of, before the construction was commenced.
Under the military system, forced sales of materials were made, which caused great loss to the government. For instance. Major Symington wanted money, and forced the sale of one hundred dozen new files, which were needed for use at the armory, and which cost $4[.]50 per dozen according to the inventory, which he sold for $1[.]25 per dozen - a great sacrifice. Major Symington gave no justification for this sale.
Col. Benjamin Huger, being duly sworn, testified as follows.
Question. How long have you been engaged in the government service in connexion with the national armories, and in what capacity?
Answer. I have been commandant of the Harper's Ferry armory from October, 1851, to March, 1854 - 2 1/2 years.
Question. Have you any knowledge of the manner in which discipline was enforced under the civil superintendency?
Answer. As a member of the ordnance board, I knew something of the general management, but had no personal knowledge.
Question. Was the Harper's Ferry armory managed with as much economy under the civil as it was under the military superintendency?
Answer. It has been managed more economically under the military superintiendency, judging from the reports and the change in the rules.
Question. Were the rules in force during the civil superintendency approved by the ordnance board?
Answer . It is the chief of the ordnance bureau who makes the regulations. The ordnance board has only to examine and approve of the changes in the model of the arms, machinery, &c. so as to avoid continual changes in the model, arms, or other articles in the use of the service.
Question . Are the rules in regard to discipline now in force the same as under the civil system?
Answer . The rules now in force at Harper's Ferry are generally the same as obtained under the civil system, as the regulations, to which all rules must conform, are the same. Some slightly different rules, since officers have been in charge, have been made, which have been conducive to economy. The commandant must make rules, for general management, consistent with the regulations, as it is not to be presumed that the regulations would embrace every little rule.
Question . Are the rules in regard to discipline, made by the superintendent, submitted to the ordnance board for its approval or rejection?
Answer . They are not. The ordnance board have nothing to do with the administration of the armories.
Question . Can you say in what respect changes have been made conducive to the order and economy of the establishment?
Answer . The order requiring the men to furnish their own oil and files has produced that effect. Formerly, the government furnished the oil. Now, the men are charged with it. The consumption now, in comparison with what it was under the old plan, is small. It is the same way with the files. I cannot state exactly what the reduction amounted to, but I suppose some of the papers on file in the department will show it. The men became more careful in the use of the oil and files when they were aware they were charged to them. Notwithstanding this charge, owing to the exercise of care and more facilities, the workmen's pay amounts to more now than it did then.
Question . Were the rules printed and accessible to the workmen, and were any rules enforced which were merely verbal?
Answer . Major Symington had them written and posted up. I had them printed. Verbal orders, which may be construed into rules, were also made from time to time.
Question . What is the character of the buildings at Harper's Ferry, and are they constructed with an eye to economy and convenience?
Answer . They are well constructed, and are excellent shops. Only one shop built under the civil system remains, and that has been thoroughly repaired. The buildings under the civil system were very ordinary. Those now erected were built after the plan of the French arsenals, with plenty of light, the only expensive item about them being cast-iron window-frames.
Question . What changes have been made in any of the buildings since you took charge of them?
Answer . A machine-shop at the rifle-works has been built, and the machinery for the tilt-hammer shop at the musket factory has been erected. The bell-shop and boring-mill have been repaired. The rolling-mill has been nearly finished. Some new roofs have been put on the shops, and a blacksmith shop has been thoroughly rebuilt in the interior.
Question . Why was it that this blacksmith shop had to be rebuilt in the interior?
Answer . A tall shaft was made, as an experiment, to answer as a draught for all the forges. This plan, which succeeded very well in other places, failed there - owing, no doubt, to the fact of the place being surrounded by mountains. I remedied the failure by paving the floor all over, putting in new forges complete, with a sheet-iron stack to every two forges, and by building a ventilator above the whole roof. These improvements to remedy this defect cost several thousand dollars. It was somewhere between six and eight thousand dollars.
Question . Under the military superintendence, have the improvements in the facilities of manufacturing arms kept pace with the improvements in private armories, and armories in other countries which you have visited?
Answer . They have. The improvements have been great, and have been assimilated, as far as we could, to the advance in machinery in the country generally. Whilst I was in charge, I visited manufactories at the north, and more than once sent a principal workman to do so, and to procure machinery. As far as the machinery is concerned, the establishment is far ahead of any I have seen in Europe.
I visited the royal manufactories at Enfield, England, the only government establishment in that country; the large contract factories at Birmingham, England, two of the French armories at Mulzig and Chattelraut, and the government manufactory at Potsdam, in Prussia. All of these establishments are under military superintendence, except the contract factories at Birmingham. These factories make for the government, by contract, the parts of an arm. The government has a small shop at Birmingham, where, under the supervision of a royal inspector, the parts made by contract are inspected and verified, and some of the minute work of an arm finished.
Question . Do the national armories of this country keep pace with best private manufactories?
Answer . I cannot say positively. The attempt has been to keep up to the best machinery, &c. Some of those establishments have the very best.
Question . Is not the machinery at Harper's Ferry more highly finished than that in private factories, and for that reason more expensive?
Answer . Of this I have no exact knowledge. I have purchased machinery of those establishments, which I have always understood to be the same as that used by them.
Question . Can you state whether arms are manufactured at our national armories as cheaply as they are furnished by contractors; and how do the two description of arms compare with each other?
Answer . Some years since, the private factories were permitted to furnish arms to the government at the same price per arm as it cost the government to make them in its own armories. Of late years the price has been so reduced in the national armories, that the private factories have not furnished any, because they could not do it so cheap. I think it was since the Mexican war that they stopped. The government has continued to procure rifles from those factories, which compare favorably with the rifles manufactured at the national armories, but for which they have to be paid more.
Colonel Benjamin Huger's examination resumed.
Question . What expenditures, in your judgment, rightly enter into the cost of arms at the armory?
Answer . In my judgment, all materials used in its construction, all the ordinary repairs of the buildings and machinery to keep them in good order, and the wages of labor used in their construction; that is, all the appropriations made by Congress for the manufacture of arms, and such portion of the appropriations for repairs and improvements as is actually applied to the repairs of the shops and machinery.
Question . What expenditures are directed by the ordnance regulations to be charged to the manufacture of arms?
Answer . I could not state in detail, as there are other items independent of those contained in the regulations, which are charged to the manufacture of arms: for instance, when I went to Harper's Ferry I ordered the grounds to be lit; the question arose as to whether the item of light should be charged to the cost of the arm. The department decided that it should be charged to the cost of the arm. The expense of warming the shops is also charged. In addition to this, the wages of foreman, expenses of office hire, of clerks, are charged to its cost; all of which expense amounts to the same, whether there is one gun made, or one hundred. We also debit the buildings and machinery, every year, with a depreciation, on account of their use.
Question . In your opinion, is the property, machinery, &c., at the armories, in such a condition as to make necessary a continuance of the usual special appropriations, made every year, to the extent they have been for the past few years?
Answer . I think not. So far as Harper's Ferry is concerned, appropriations for machinery will be wanted, but none for buildings, as they are all in the best condition. At Springfield there will be some wanted, as the shops are very narrow, and unfit for their purposes.
Question . With the present machinery and improvements, can you give an idea of the extreme capacity of the armories?
Answer . About 40,000 stand a year.
Question . State what is the usual number of arms made each year at the armories?
Answer . There have been made at Springfield 20,000 arms, and at Harper's Ferry 16,000 or 17,000 arms in a year; but without having papers before me, I think I can say the average at Springfield has been 16,000, and at Harper's Ferry 12,000 arms per year. The appropriation would only justify the manufacture at Harper's Ferry of 750 muskets and 250 rifles per month. These arms have been distributed mostly to the States; the army receives but a small portion of them; some are kept in store. There are now about half a million of arms on hand, to the best of my knowledge.
Question . Had you any difficulty in procuring a suitable supply of skilful [sic] and competent workmen for Harper's Ferry armory?
Answer . There were a great many workmen (but they were not very competent) constantly applying for situations. Competent men from abroad would not come there, because they did not like the place.
Question . Please state whether the workmen employed are cheerful and contented, and give ready obedience to the regulations and discipline of the establishment?
Answer . There has been a great deal of discontent evinced since the discussion of the proposed change in the system of superintendency; but it has been shown principally by those who have responsible duties to perform, and who, anticipating a change, are afraid that they might offend the men under them; not by open insubordination, because no man is permitted to remain in the armory who practises that.
Question . How frequent are the discharges of workmen, and generally for what causes?
Answer . The discharges were very few during the time I was superintendent, for any other cause than exhaustion of appropriations. I had the painful duty to discharge one-third of the men at one time on account of the appropriation having been reduced.
Question . Is the usual military education such as to give an officer practical knowledge of the qualities of the various materials which enter into the construction of an arm?
Answer . Not the military education at West Point; but the officer having charge of an armory, will soon acquire a knowledge to a sufficent extent. At West Point they learn the sciences, and receive a better theoretical education than a man outside of it could possibly acquire; but it is not necessary for the commandant of an armory to be acquainted with the particular branches of work there executed; he has officers under him that understand them. Even if he did, his military duties would consume too much of his time to enable him to look over all the various branches.
Question . What, in your judgment, should be the qualifications of a master-armorer, in view of his duties as prescribed by the ordnance regulations?
Answer . As his duties are to attend to all mechanical operations, and also to the inspection of the materials and finished work, as well as to distribute out all work, he should be a practical mechanic, capable of superintending all the operations; sufficiently informed of the working of machinery and its principles to be able to recommend the most suitable and best for the purposes required.
Question . What advantage, if any, does a military officer have, that a civilian would not have, in making improvements in arms, machinery, &c., and in the development of the inventive capacity of the workmen at the armories?
Answer . The advantage he has is, that his place is not dependent on the pleasure of those under him. The officers sent to those places have great experience, and understand the organization of men better than a civilian would. They have a practice in the use of arms, and on that account may know more about arms than a civilian would.
Mr. William H. Moore's examination resumed.
Question . In the construction of houses, shops, and other structures, for the use of the establishment, is there as much regard paid to economy as under the civil system?
Answer . There is not. The immense amount of materials that accrued from pulling down the old buildings, might have been used in the erection of the new structures; but, instead of that being done, they were sold for a mere nominal price to private individuals, who built nice dwellings out of them.
When the new rolling-mill was built, the old one - a substantial building made of stone - was pulled down, the new building erected on the old foundation, and of the same size as the old mill, and not a particle of the old material was used in its construction. The new mill is a plain brick structure.
Question . If the superintendent were a practical mechanic, with good executive qualities, would he have any advantage over a military officer of scientific acquirements, and experience in his profession, with like executive abilities, in the management of labor, and the proper execution of the work?
Answer . He would; because he would be a judge of the material used, by the application of the proper mechanical tests; he would be a judge of workmen, and therefore would only employ such as were good workmen; he would know how many men it would take to execute a certain number of pieces, so that there would be a regular, uniform, and uninterrupted system of operations in the armory. Military superintendents have frequently placed too many men on the work in the commencement, which, before they got through, would compel them to limit a man to a half day's work, which, would keep him idle half his time.
Question . Would a mere civilian, of good intelligence and proper executive talent, have any advantage over a military officer in the management of the armory? If so, state in what respect.
Answer . He would, because the men would feel satisfied under him. They could speak to him like a citizen, and not be treated as these men do treat them when they get on their military bearing.
Good men, who could get away, would not remain and work in the arsenal, under military superintendents, after they had felt their treatment. Others could not get away, because they had not the means, and were obliged to stay.
Question . Is the bearing of a military officer towards the workmen. under his control such as, according to your experience and knowledge, the mechanics and workmen of the country are accustomed to in other employments?
Answer . I do not know, but I should think not. The manner of the military superintendent under whom I served was exceedingly arbitrary and disagreeable. If any of the workmen would approach Major Symington in the yard, he would repulse them, saying he would listen to nothing except when he should be in his office.
It would be difficult for them to find him there, as whenever he did come down to his office, it would be about 11 o'clock a. m., and he would leave about 3 p. m.
Question . Has the capacity of the workmen, for skill and experience, employed under the military system, been equal to the capacity of those under the civil system? If not, can you assign a reason for it?
Answer . It has not; because, under the civil system, the men were permitted to do their work as quick as they could, and were obliged to make their own tools, which caused them to exercise their inventive genius to bring about improvements which would facilitate their work. Under the military system the tools are furnished already made, so that no matter what improvement might suggest itself to the workman, they being already made, he could not apply it.
Question . Was there any difficulty under the civil system in obtaining, at all times, skilful [sic] and competent workmen for all branches of business?
Answer . There never was any difficulty in getting skilful workmen under the civil system. Under the military system, as I said before, skilful [sic] workmen, who had the means, would quit the establishment, because they felt self-debased; others would feel the same way, but could not leave, because they had not the means.
Question . Did you ever see exhibited by the workmen, under the civil system, any disinclination to remain at Harper's Ferry upon the ground of want of schools, society, or anything else disagreeable or unpleasant in the situation of the place?
Answer . Never. On the contrary, the schools were sufficient. In fact, there was a general desire to get situations there.
Question . What has been the effect of the military system, upon the prosperity of Harper's Ferry?
Answer . The place has been ruined.. Property has depreciated thirty per cent. on account of the insecurity of the tenure of employment.
Question . What has been your observation of the difference among the workmen, under the two systems, as to the qualities of manliness, frankness, and independence of character, and the reasons for such difference, if any there be?
Answer . There is a very great difference under the military system. Men have become timid, and are afraid to approach anybody outside the armory. When I visited Harper's Ferry from Wheeling, in company with a Mr. Butt, one of the armorers was threatened with being overhauled because he was seen conversing with me and Mr. Butt. There is so much tale-bearing, &c., going on, that the men have lost all confidence in each other.
Question . Have there been frequent arbitrary dismissals under the military system?
Answer . There have been. All who were dismissed were in favor of the civil system. No cause would be given for these arbitrary dismissals.
Question . Did you ever have any difficulty with Major Symington?
Answer . I never had what could be called a difficulty. On one occasion he drew up some leases for the inspectors to sign for some houses, when we by act of Congress held our quarters free. I told the clerk to tell Major S. that I held my quarters by act of Congress, and that I did not recognise his right to charge me rent. He shortly afterwards sent for all the officers. As soon as we entered the room, he directed his observations to me, and said I had been consulting people outside of doors. I told him I had asked Colonel Lucas, the former superintendent, if there was any right in the commanding officer to do away with an act of Congress, and impose a rent upon sub-officers. Major S. said I had become troublesome, and that he would dismiss me. I told him he could do so, but that I recognised no right in him to change my pay and emoluments. I declined signing the leases, as did the others, and read to Major S. the law alluded to, when he acknowledged his error. He did not discharge me then; but when General Taylor came in power he did. I connect General Taylor with it because I asked Major Talcott relative to my removal, and he said that if he had been there he would not have done it. I then remonstrated with the Secretary of War, and he would do nothing in the matter. Major Symington had great influence with General Taylor's administration. The commandant would give no reasons for the dismissal.
Question . You stated in a part of your testimony that men had been docked, at the end of the month, of a part of the wages they had earned according to the regular prices, without previous notice. Can you state what amount, to your recollection, had ever been docked from any of the men's pay?
In one month, as near as I can recollect, there was $20 and $30 curtailment. The inspectors' rolls will show.
WASHINGTON, April 4,1854.
This is to certify that the record of evidence, preceding this, is a true record of the testimony given by me before the select committee of the House of Representatives on military superintendencies over civil works.
WM. H. MOORE.
Colonel Benjamin Huger's examination resumed.
Question . Was the office of master-armorer filled during the period of your superintendency at Harper's Ferry?
Answer . It was filled by an officer entitled the acting master-armorer. This was the case anterior to my incumbency.
Question . By whom was the appointment of acting master-armorer made, and from whom did he receive his appointment, and what was his pay?
Answer . He was appointed by the commandant, with the approval of the chief of the Ordnance department, no doubt with the consent of the Secretary. His compensation was fixed at $800 per annum, and was afterwards increased to $1,200 per annum.
Question . Were the offices of inspectors filled during your superintendency?
Answer . The offices entitled inspectors had been abolished, and in place of them were substituted foremen, some of whom received $2[.]50 per day, but most of them $2[.]25 per day. These foremen were employed on each practical branch of the work.
Question . Are there two qualities of rifles made at Harper's Ferry?
Answer . There are not, now. At one time a very small seam appeared on the outside of the rifle after it was browned, which caused a few of them to be laid aside at first for further examination.
Question . Did you, in making the workmen pay for their oil and files, increase their wages?
Answer . This new rule was introduced before my superintendency. I do not know that the price was specially raised to meet its introduction; but the improvements in machinery, and the increase of other facilities since then, have augmented the wages of workmen.
WASHINGTON, May 18, 1854.
This is to certify that all the evidence preceding this on this record, purporting to have been given by Colonel Benjamin Huger, is a true record of his testimony before the select committee of the House of Representatives on military superintendencies over civil works.
MICH. W. CLUSKEY,
Clerk to the Committee.
. . .
Mr. Adam Rhulman, being duly sworn, testified as follows:
Question . How long have you been engaged in the government service in connexion with the national armories, and in what capacity?
Answer . Nearly thirty years - about eight years of that time on the various components of the musket, a little over one year on tools and machinery, and about twenty-one years as inspector of finished muskets. Question . During that time, how long were the armories under civil and how long under military superintendence, and who were the officers in charge? Answer . The armory at Harper's Ferry, in which I worked, was more than seventeen years under civil, and over twelve years under military, superintendence. The civil superintendents were Col. Jas. Stubblefield, Thomas B. Dunn, Gen. George Rust, and Col. Edward Lucas. The military superintendents were Major H. K. Craig and Major John Symington, and Col. Benjamin Huger. During a portion of Colonel Stubblefield's tenure, when he was suspended on account of charges being preferred against him, Lieutenant Symington and Colonel Lee were there temporarily.
Question . During the civil superintendency, was there as much order and regularity in the armory, and as much work executed, and executed as well, as under the military system?
Answer . So far as the day workmen were concerned, there was more regularity, because they were required to be more promptly at work. As regards the piece-work system, owing to the fact of the piece-workers being allowed to go to work as early as four o'clock in the morning, they would finish their day's work before the expiration of the day, and would thereby give the shops an appearance of irregularity. This process, which was looked upon by the military as want of system, did not result in any disadvantage to the government, as the returns will show that there was as much work done, and, according to the model then in existence by the direction of the ordnance board, as good arms made, as there are now. In fact, but two of General Taylor's regiments - the 7th regiment of infantry and the 4th regiment artillery - used muskets made under the military system; the remainder of the muskets used by his troops were made under the civil system, and no complaints were made as to their efficiency.
Question : Were the workmen as cheerful and contented under one system as under the other? and state the effect of the two systems upon the workmen as citizens.
Answer . They were not. Under the civil system, they were as cheerful and contented as any body of men I ever saw. Their wages were never curtailed without at least one month's notice being given. A man was never discharged without being given the reason for it. If a charge was preferred against a man, he was always informed of it, and given a chance to rebut it, before he was discharged at all. They were encouraged to procure houses as near the armory as they could, that they might be as close to their work as possible; whilst under the military system the design of Major Symington seemed to be to have them live as far away from the armory as possible, which often prevented them from getting to work at bell-ring. Under the civil system, they were given to understand that, as long as they were steady, sober, and good workmen, they would be continued at the armory. Under the military, the tenure of employment was uncertain. Under the civil, they were not distrustful, but were as communicative to each other as any set of men I ever saw; whilst under the military system they became distrustful of each other, the social character they once had seemed to be entirely lost, and mutual distrust took the place of generous confidence. On one occasion Major Symington sent for me, and told me he was about to remove William H. Moore, one of the inspectors, and asked who I would recommend for his place. I asked why he wished to discharge him. He replied that Moore had been talking and writing letters about him. I told him he had better send for Moore and ask him if it were true, as I knew if Moore had said or written anything he would acknowledge it; and referred him to the master-armorer for a recommendation of some one to fill Mr. Moore's place. I then went and told Mr. Moore what Major S. had said, and advised him to go and see him. He did so, when Major S. informed him that he was satisfied the charges were untrue. He would not give the nature of the charges, or the author of them, to Mr. Moore. A few months after he discharged him, and would not assign a reason for doing so; notwithstanding, Mr. Moore came to Washington, and failed here to have a cause reassigned.
Question . State what you know in regard to the dismissal of work-men in 1842, and upon what terms they were subsequently reinstated?
Answer . In 1841, Major Craig issued an order requiring the piece-workers to work from bell to bell, the same as the day-workers. [At this time the machinery was not as extensive as it is now; it was worked by water-power, and seldom had to be kept going for the accommodation of a few men, because they generally made it a point to go to "work at the same time, and each one seemed to be ambitious not to let the others beat him. I have seen the machinery kept going oftener for one or two men under the military, than I ever did under the civil, though it is an occurrence that will happen under any system. On account of the water-power, there was very little fuel used, only for heating the shops.] This order was to go into effect upon the Monday following, upon which day the men turned out, and crowded in the street between the shops, when the bell rung. They marched up to the rifle factory, and by the time they came bad? Major Craig had issued an order that none of them should be permitted to go to work again. They then quietly and peaceably adjourned to a free church, had a consultation, and appointed a committee to go to Washington and obtain a redress of their grievances. About two hundred went to Washington, and returned home without accomplishing anything. Major Craig would not take one of them back to work until they signed an obligation to abide by all regulations then in existence, or that might thereafter be put into existence; that they would thereafter hold no meetings or consultations relative to any matters in the armory, and, I believe, sign any petitions relative thereto. Some men signed it immediately - others held out, but eventually signed it; finally they all signed it, though I believe there were a few who were taken back without being required to sign it.
Question . Is the establishment managed with as much economy to the government under the military superintendency as under the civil?
Answer . In my judgment, it is not, on account of the want of practical experience and knowledge in managing things generally in the superintendents. A great deal of money has been expended on the shops, machinery, &c., for show, without any practical utility. A number of cutting and milling machines have been purchased, and substituted for old ones, that were thrown out and sold at public auction, at prices from $12 to $20, which I would not give for the new ones, that cost $225 and $275. That is a part of the economy. In the construction of machinery, its efficiency and strength, particularly in the shafting, has been impaired for the purpose of show. The shafting of the machinery in the grinding mill has been made so small, that although it has been in use but two or three years, it has twisted off; and in the boring-mill it has been made so weak, that on one, in particular, they have had to put hangers between the journals, to keep it from swagging or breaking. In the arrangements of the blacksmith shop there has been, in my opinion, more than double the amount of money expended, to accomplish the object of show, than a civilian would have spent. The interior of the shop has been torn out three times. The last alteration could not have cost less than $8,000. In the tilt-hammer shop at the musket factory, the cast-iron frames purchased under the military system had to be thrown out, and wooden ones substituted. These frames, on account of there being no elasticity in them, had been proven to be unsuited for the purpose. Notwithstanding this, they would break, and new ones would immediately take their places, until seven had been tried. The machinery is not now such as should be in a government shop.
Mr. Adam Rhulman's examination continued.
Question . In the construction of houses, shops, and other structures, for the use of the establishment, is there, under the military system, as much regard paid to economy as under the civil system?
Answer . There were but two shops at the musket factory, and some four or five small shops at the rifle factory, put up under the civil system whilst I was there, but I am satisfied no civilian would have built such shops as were built under the military. The new shops put up under the military at the musket and rifle factories would probably suit in a northern latitude, but in our climate the large openings, thin walls, and sheet-iron roofs, make them very uncomfortable in the heat of summer. Colonel Craig, however, put up two shops, which were plain and substantial buildings. In the construction of the shops, the buildings were put up without seemingly any knowledge of the quantity of machinery to be placed in them; consequently, the boring-mill at the musket factory, and the large shop at the rifle, factory, have so much machinery in them, that the workmen are put to great inconvenience in performing their operations.
Question . Did your employment as inspector at the Harper's Ferry armory give you any knowledge of the quality of the arms manufactured at the Springfield armory? If yea, state it.
Answer . All the arms made at the Springfield manufactory, that I have ever seen for a number of years, are the samples required to be exchanged by the armories quarterly. For some four or five years prior to 1852, no samples had been received at the Harper's Ferry armory from Springfield. In the year 1852, we received from there ten muskets - two of the manufacture of each of the years, respectively, from 1848 to 1852, inclusive.
In the examination of these muskets, I found one of them very defective; the four lock-screws on it should never have been found anywhere but in a scrap-box; the tumbler was spoiled, because it had but three threads on the screw; the barrel was so badly breeched that I considered it dangerous to use, the thread in the barrel on the breech-screw being very defective; besides, the barrel was flawy to such an extent that it should never have been received. In the examination of this musket, Mr. Benjamin Wilson, one of the inspectors of block work, was present. I pronounced it a mass of scrap-iron. The balance were tolerably good, but deviated from the standard of gauges and sizes, and were not as good as those made at Harper's Ferry.
Question . Do you know of any of the acts of Congress relating to the armories, that have been set aside by the military superintendents, or ordnance boards? If yea, state them.
Answer . In 1849, Mr. Benjamin Moore, sen., master-armorer at Harper's Ferry armory, was dismissed from service, and an acting officer appointed by the commandant. About the 28th or latter part of November, 1849, Major Symington, commandant, sent for me to come to his office, and informed me that he had a very unpleasant duty to perform; that the ordnance board had decided that there should be no salaried officer at the armories; but not wishing to lose my services, he would give me the highest wages he could, which was $2[.]50 per day. I told him that I did not consider that any officer of the government had the authority to set aside the act of Congress fixing the pay of the master-armorer, inspectors, and clerk. He said he had nothing to do with it; that the ordnance board had decided that. I told him that I could not at that time leave the armory with convenience, but that I would endeavor to make the government pay me the amount of sal[a]ry and emoluments, for the time, I remained, that I was entitled to under the act of Congress, until that act was repealed.
So far as I know, the inspectors at the armories have not, from 1849 to the present time, received the amount of their salaries as fixed by law.
Question . Did you ever know of any difficulty being experienced in obtaining good workmen under the civil system at Harper's Ferry?
Answer . I never did know of any difficulty in obtaining workmen of skill and of good character.
Question . If the superintendent were a practical mechanic, of good executive qualities, would he have any advantage over a military officer of scientific acquirements and experience in his profession, with like executive qualities, in the management of labor and the proper execution of the work?
Answer . I have no doubt that he would have a decided advantage over a military commandant, from the fact that he would be a competent judge of all the materials necessary to enter into the manufacture of arms. From his own experience, he would be better qualified to fix a just and equitable compensation on the work to be performed; he would be more likely to have the confidence of the men under his employ, because he would not be educated expressly to command; the workmen under him could approach him on any business connected with their employment, and be satisfied that his decision would be just; whilst a military man, from his education and habits, cannot be properly qualified to manage such an establishment.
Question . Was it ever customary, when the inspectors' pay-rolls at the end of the month were reported to the commandant, to strike off any portion of the wages earner by the workmen? if so, explain how it occurred, and for what purpose.
Answer . It frequently has been done at Harper's Ferry. The first instance I recollect of, I believe was in 1844. Colonel H. K. Craig made several reductions in that way. It is customary for the inspector to be furnished with a list of prices by the master-armorer, according to which the pay-rolls of the men are made out. In one case an individual named Thomas Russell, without any notice being given him, had his wages curtailed $15 or more after his inspectors had out his pay-roll, and certified to the same. From that date up to 1852, such occurrences were frequent. I suppose the reason was to cheapen the cost of the gun. The regular way was to inform the inspectors of any change that was made in the prices, when they would inform the workmen of it. But these curtailments spoken of were arbitrarily made, without any notice being given, and created great dissatisfaction among the men.
Question . Which of the two systems is best calculated to promote and develop the inventive talent of the workmen?
Answer . My observation convinces me the civil system is the best. In working, the men will frequently see where an alteration in their tools would facilitate their work. Under the civil system, when a workman made such an improvement, they would suffer him to work at the prices then fixed, until he would receive in that way a compensation for his skill. Under the military system the workmen are afraid to point out, or make improvements, by which a much larger quantity of work could be done in the same time, for fear of a curtailment in their prices.
Archibald M. Kitzmiller, being duly sworn, testified as follows:
Question . Were the appropriations for repairs, improvements, and new machinery applied, under the military superintendency, to the objects estimated for, and upon which the appropriations were obtained?
Answer . They were not confined to the special objects for which they were obtained. Without having the books, I am unable to go into detail. We have always considered the appropriation for repairs, improvements, and new machinery, as giving latitude for expenditures, for purposes of like character, without reference to the specific objects mentioned in the estimate. We disburse the funds in the paymaster's hand without reference to the appropriations. The appropriation for national armories has advanced to that for repairs, improvements, and new machinery, at times, but the amount has always been paid back to it when new remittances of money came into the paymaster's hands. The last appropriation for repairs, improvements, and new machinery, has been entirely exhausted by the payment of charges upon it. Of the appropriation for arms, there was $45,000 on hand the 1st of March last.
Question . Did the military superintendents at Harper's Ferry, in the management of the armory ana the expenditure of appropriations, observe rigidly the regulations laid down by the Ordnance department?
Answer . There was, of course, a departure when they diverted funds from one appropriation to another.
Question . What improvements were made last year and year before, for which appropriations are asked the present year; and upon what authority were these improvements commenced?
Answer . The cistern, for which an appropriation of $1,000 is asked, the repairs to bell-shops and boring-mill, for which $1,800 is asked, and the tilt-hammer, for which $1,300 is asked, under the head of appropriations for repairs, improvements, and new machinery, for the fiscal year ending the 30th of June, 1855, have been already built, and paid for out of the appropriation for repairs, &c., for this year. In 1846 there was an appropriation made of $16,500 for building a new rolling-mill and forge, which was drawn at the time and used for other purposes, with that latitude, heretofore explained, and not for the purpose for which it was made. The rolling-mill and forge were not built until 1853, and the cost of them was taken from the appropriation for repairs, &c., for the present year. In 1848-9, an appropriation for the purchase of land and houses was made; but as they could not be bought at the time, that appropriation was expended for other purposes. The property was, however, bought, and paid for out of the appropriation for the present year.
If the appropriations had been applied for the purposes for which they were intended, there would be no money wanting now. I state these facts to explain the embarrassment of the funds of the appropriation for repairs, &c., at the present time.
Question . Was it ever customary, when the inspectors' pay-rolls at the end of the month were reported to the commanding officer, to strike off any portion of the wages earned by the workmen? if so, explain how it occurred, and for what purpose.
Answer . The testimony of Mr. Wm. H. Moore, recorded in your record of evidence, on that point, is in the main correct; as those changes, to my knowledge, were made arbitrarily. For a long series of years, after the getting up of the present percussion model, the foremen were required to estimate a fair day's work for a good, skilful [sic] workman, on his particular branch, and the prices were regulated so that the work a first class workman would do in a day would amount to $2 per diem. Thus, a man would mill 700 lock-plates in a day, the price for each of which was so fixed that the whole would amount to $2. If he milled more than that amount, so that his wages would exceed $2 per day, according to the prices then existing, a curtailment, as alluded to, would take place. The idea was that $2 per day was enough for their services. These curtailments were made without the assent, of the men, after the work was done. There was no distinction between the civil and military so far as the rules generally were concerned. They were not, under the civil, a subject of clamor. I never heard a single complaint uttered during the civil superintendency relative thereto Under the civil system, the master-armorer had exclusive control so as regulating the pay-roll of the workmen was concerned. Under military system the commandant takes cognizance of that branch of the business, and exercises a supervisory control over the master-armorer.
Question . Is there at present an officer known as the master-armorer, and officers with the title of inspectors, at the Harper's Ferry armory?
Answer . There has been no master-armorer, until the 14th of March last, since Mr. Moore's discharge. There is an officer who performs the functions of that position, entitled an acting master-armorer. There are now no inspectors. The duties precisely similar to those formerly performed by the inspectors, are now performed by officers under the title of foremen.
Question . Under which system did the superintendent have most to do with the operations of the armory, the civil or the military?
Answer . The civil superintendent had less to do with the details of the internal operations of the factories than the military.
Question . In the reports of the operations of the armory made to the Ordnance department, is it not exhibited, in detail, how the money appropriated by Congress is expended?
Answer . We don't return the amounts in detail. We only show the amount of money received, and the amount expended. We don't show for what specific improvement money has been expended, otherwise than on the books of the armory. The inventories now in the Ordnance department will not show the amount paid out for each improvement.
Question . What was the cost of the present quarters of the superintendent, and those of the paymaster?
Answer . I cannot state exactly. The superintendent's quarters cost about $20,000; those of the paymaster about $6,000.
Question . What salaries were paid to the acting master-armorer and inspectors during the military superintendency?
Answer . The acting master-armorer, for the first two or three months of his tenure, was only paid at the rate of $800 per annum, but he now receives $1,200 per annum.
The inspectors were paid $800 per annum, but the foremen who take their places, only receive $2[.]25 and $2[.]50 per day. The change was made in '49 or '50. The pay of inspectors was fixed by the law of August, 1842. I do not know the reasons for the change of name from that of the law to foremen - their functions are identical.
Archibald M. Kitzmiller's examination resumed.
Question . At what time did the practice commence of applying the appropriations differently from the specific purposes for which they were intended?
Answer . It originated since 1841. Prior to that time, the appropriations made by Congress designated specifically the objects for which they were made. After that, they were lumped under the general head of repairs, improvements, and new machinery.
Question . In the estimates made by the commandant for special appropriations each year, and sent to Congress, were not the several objects for which they were required enumerated, and brief reasons given why they were needed?
Answer . They were.
Question . Did it frequently occur, that works for which appropriations were asked had already been completed and paid for out of appropriations already made?
Answer . It has occurred.
Question . Whether the diversion of the fund appropriated for special objects, enumerated in the estimates sent to Congress, is or not a violation of any regulation of the Ordnance department?
Answer . I don't know of any ordnance regulation on the subject. It is the general understanding that they should not be diverted from the purposes for which they are asked. The commandant uses his discretion, without written regulations, and makes certain improvements which he deems absolutely necessary, and uses part of appropriations for other purposes to carry them out.
Question . Can you state what amount of appropriation has been made for the new arsenal, and how much for the lumber-shed, and what now is the condition of those works?
Answer . There have been two appropriations for the arsenal made by Congress - one of $15,000, and another of $13,700 - out of which the excavation for the foundations has been made. There has been nothing done on the lumber-shed, nor has there been an appropriation for it. The estimate asked for $6,000.
Question . To what purposes have the appropriations for the arsenal been applied?
Answer . It has been expended on the rolling-mill, and in the purchase of land, alluded to in a previous answer, for which appropriation had been made, 1846-8; but which had been previously expended for other purposes.
Question . What appropriations were asked for and obtained for the building of commandant's and paymaster's quarters?
Answer . The sum of $15,000 was asked for and obtained for the commandant's quarters, and $6,000 for the paymaster's and military storekeeper's quarters. I think an additional sum was obtained to complete the latter.
Question . Did the buildings cost more than was appropriated? and if so, from where was the balance obtained?
Answer . They did. I think the cost of the commandant's quarters was $20,000; that of the other, $6,000. At that time the lumping commenced, and the balance was taken from some other appropriation. No cash voucher will show the expenditures for specific purposes. They will appear in the margin of duplicate vouchers retained in the armory. The estimates are not, in my opinion, sufficiently regarded, after they are made, as a guide by the officer in charge. All that is required is, that expenditures shall be made under the head of appropriation for repairs, improvements, &c. We would use part of the appropriation of $39,500 asked for for the next fiscal year, if made, in the construction of the arsenal. This error commenced in 1846, under Major Symington, when he expended the $16,500 appropriated for the rolling-mill, and the balance of the appropriation for the purchase of land for other objects. Colonel Huger is in no way responsible for this system. The excess in expenditure for commandant's and paymaster's quarters, necessarily absorbed, in part, the appropriation for that year for other objects.
Question . Were the cash accounts of the armory settled each year, and will they show accurately the amount expended and remaining on hand at the end of the year, under each object for which estimates were made?
Answer . They were settled quarterly, and also at the end year; but they do not exhibit all the expenditures for each specific object estimated for.
Question . Are there any other objects for which estimates were made and appropriations obtained, since 1846, which have not been commenced?
Answer . For completing new arsenal and enclosing wall, $13,700; and for converting the present stock-house into a workshop, $7,000. These are two items that I now notice.
Question . Has the 52d article of the ordnance regulations been violated? and if so, how frequently, and to what extent, either under the civil or military superintendency?
Answer . It never has, to my personal knowledge.
Question . What position do you hold at the Harper's Ferry armory?
Answer . I have been, for the last eighteen years, chief clerk to the superintendent or commandant.
Archibald M. Kitzmiller's examination resumed.
Question . Can you inform the committee what number of the artisans employed in the public service became purchasers of the government lots at the sale ordered by the late Secretary of War, Mr. Conrad, and what number of them have since been dismissed from employment with their property still unpaid for?
Answer . About 125 of the armorers then engaged in the armory were purchasers, either at the appraised value or at public auction, of the houses and lots sold by the United States at the Harper's Ferry armory on the 1st of September, 1852; of whom about 25 are not now employed in the public service at the armory. Of these, a few voluntarily determined their service; the rest were either dismissed, or were not re-employed after the close of the suspension and resumption of the work on the 1st of July, 1853. They are all debtors still to the United States for the deferred payments of their purchases.
Archibald M. Kitzmiller's examination resumed and concluded.
Question . State if you know any instances where hired men, whose names appeared on the armory pay-rolls, and whose wages were paid out of the armory funds, were employed in attending to the horses and gardens of the commandant, or any other instances where hired men paid by the armory were employed in the private service of the commandant?
Answer . The instance to which my attention has been called may be termed such as the question refers to. Andrew Colgan was put on the pay-rolls of the armory as a laborer, and his wages paid from the public funds of the armory. He was exclusively employed in and about the grounds and premises of the commanding officer of the armory, and is still so employed, under some restrictions as to time actual1y engaged upon the grounds of the commanding officer's quarters, under the present commandant.
WASHINGTON, April 14, 1854.
This is to certify that the evidence contained on this record, preceding this, purporting to be my evidence, is a true record of the evidence given by me before the select committee of the House upon military superintendencies over civil works.
A. M. KITZMILLER.
Question . Were you a resident of Harper's Ferry when the civil superintendent, Thomas R. Dunn, was shot? if so, please state by whom he was murdered, whether the person who lulled him was an artisan in the employment of the government, or whether the mechanics of the national armory were implicated in the crime.
Answer . I was in the Harper's Ferry armory for some years previous to that occurrence. Mr. Dunn was shot by a young man by the name of Ebenezer Cox, who, if my memory serves me right, had not been in the employ of the government for a year previous. There was a judicial inquiry made at the time of the occurrence, which implicated no one in the murder but Cox himself. He was a young man who was raised at Harper's Ferry, of a very bad and desperate character, and who was a terror to his relations and family. His father, who was a cripple, had for his own safety to drive him from his house. He had made application, to Lieut. John Symington, who was a temporary superintendent, for an appointment, and also afterwards to Mr. Dunn, both of whom refused to give him work in the armory. The clerks, who occupied a room immediately above Mr. Dunn's, were the first to give the alarm. They heard the report of the pistol; and when they opened the door of the superintendent's office, they saw Mr. Dunn lying on the floor. Previous to this, they had noticed Cox running around the corner of the shops. The armorers, and every other individual, immediately commenced a search for Cox. It was some time before he could be found, when he was discovered by a party, of which I was one, secreted in the pit of the water-wheel. When brought out, he acknowledged that he had committed the murder, when Major Broadis, the paymaster, cried out to lynch him. There was a great deal of excitement; and this would have been done, had not wiser counsels prevailed. He was handed over to the civil authorities, and tried, convicted, and hung. Previous to the killing of Mr. Dunn, Cox had attempted to take his own life twice.
Question . State if you know any instances where hired men, whose names appeared on the armory pay-rolls, and whose wages were paid out of the armory funds, were employed in attending to the horses and gardens of the commandant, or any other instances where hired men paid by the armory were employed in the private service of the commandant? Answer . I know that Andrew Colgan has been employed as hostler and servant at the commandant's quarters from October, 1851, to September 1, 1853, and that he received his pay monthly on the armory pay-rolls; also, a man named O'Brien has been employed, with others of the laborers in the employment of the government at the armory, as gardeners in the garden at the commandant's quarters, and received their pay on the armory pay-rolls.
WASHINGTON, April 19,1854.
I certify that all the evidence preceding this, on this record, purporting to be my evidence, is a true record of the evidence testified to by me before the select committee of the House on military superintendencies over civil works.
. . .
1. The superintendent will purchase all stock, tools, materials, and all articles, of every description, necessary for every part of the armory, agreeably to the regulations of the War Department for the administration of the national armories. He will also hire all the hands, determine their wages, and perform all the duties therein contained and assigned to him.
2. All stock, tools, and materials, and all articles necessary for carrying on the works of the armory, will be placed in charge of the master- armorer, who will register them, and give receipts for the articles. He will be made debtor therefor, and held responsible for the same. He will make out monthly returns, to the superintendent, of all public property received.
3. He will deliver to the assistant master-armorers all such articles, tools, materials, &c., as may be necessary for the various parts of the muskets in their respective branches, they making returns therefore. The property delivered as above, will be charged to the assistant master-armorers in a book kept for that purpose.
4. The assistant master-armorers will severally be held responsible for all public property received by them; they will deliver to each hand such articles as may be necessary for his particular branch; they will keep accurate accounts with each individual workman under their charge, who will be held strictly accountable for every article of public property delivered them respectively.
5. Regular accounts will be made out monthly by the assistant master-armorers of all the work executed by the men under their charge, which bears inspection, and handed into the superintendent's office as soon after the close of the month as practicable, noting particularly against each man's name the quantity of work condemned, and, as far as practicable, briefly state the causes.
6. They will make out quarterly returns of all stock, tools, materials, and machinery, within their respective departments, at the end of each quarter, and hand to the master-armorer.
7. The master-armorer will make out at the end of each quarter, to the superintendent, a return, embracing the amount of public property on hand at the first of the quarter, the amount received and expended during, and the balance on hand at the close of, the quarter.
8. He will be responsible that the arms manufactured, in all their parts, are made conformable to the established model; shall have undergone the proofs and inspection required by the Ordnance department, and are complete for service; and he will hold his assistants responsible for the faithful execution of the several parts of the work with which they are respectively charged.
9. The superintendent being responsible for all expenditures of the armory, he holds it as his prerogative that no expenses be incurred without his knowledge and approbation, further than the ordinary repairs of tools, machinery, or the other fixtures about the works.
10. In the absence of the superintendent from the place, his duties will be devolved on the master-armorer for the time being, and he is to be obeyed and respected accordingly.
11. It is required of the workmen that they conduct themselves with good order and propriety, and not begin, excite, or join in any mutinous, riotous, or seditious conduct, against the regulations of the armory, or oppose the officers in the execution of their duty, nor refuse to observe the lawful directions of the officers of the armory, nor enter into any combination against them. (See the law of Congress below.)
12. Work for individual purposes is expressly prohibited in the public workshops, nor is public property to be applied to private uses.
13. No fighting, scuffling, or unnecessary noise, nor any other proceeding that has a tendency to create disorder or impede the regular progress of the work, will be allowed in or about the workshops.
14. Gambling of every description, and the conveying or drinking rum, gin, brandy, whiskey, or any kind of ardent spirits, in or about the shops belonging to the United States, are forbidden.
15. Public or individual property located on the United States land, is not to be wantonly, maliciously, nor carelessly injured or destroyed, nor are the trees to be cut down, or the fences or other articles of wood to be taken clandestinely, and used for fuel or any other purpose.
16. As the good order of every community depends upon the strict observance and execution of good and wholesome laws, it is therefore required that due attention and respect be paid to the laws of the United States, and those of the State of Virginia, the violation of which, or the opposition or resistance against the legal officers of justice, will be noticed in the most exemplary manner.
17. Any workmen calculating to leave the armory, are requested to give thirty days' notice previous to their quitting the branch at which they are engaged, that their places may be filled without inconvenience to the public interest; and the same notice will be given to the workmen whose services are not wanted, previous to their being discharged, (except in case of improper conduct.)
18. As the absence of some particular hand may very materially intercept or impede the regular advancement of the work, it is hereby required, that whenever any of the workmen wish to be absent from their business in the armory for more than two days in succession, or four days in a month, they will make known their wishes to the inspector under whom they work, (or in his absence the master-armorer; in the absence of both, to the superintendent,) and if the service will not suffer for their branch of work, no objection will be made to their absence.
19. No building whatever is to be erected on the United States land at this place by individuals, nor shall any additions to buildings be made without application being made to the superintendent, who will apply (if deemed expedient) to the Ordnance department, and if approved, will give directions relative to its location; nor is any of the public houses or other buildings to be occupied or repaired, except by the consent and on the authority of the superintendent.
20. In relation to all ordinary concerns of the work in the shops, all applications of the workmen will be made to the assistant master-armorers under whom they severally perform their duties, who will, if the case requires it, report the same to the master-armorer; and if he deems it necessary, he will submit the case to the superintendent for his decision.
21. Persons living on public land will be held responsible for the good conduct of their minor children living with them, and their apprentices and servants.
22. The rooms in the workshops, where there are floors, will be thoroughly swept and cleaned every morning or evening, and it is desired that every officer and workman pay particular attention to keeping their tools and parts of work in their proper places, and have their benches and everything about them in as good order as circumstances and the nature of their business will permit.
23. It is enjoined upon every officer and workman to be careful of every species of public property under their charge, or in their possession, and not suffer any loss or waste to take place by carelessness or neglect.
SUPERINTENDENT'S OFFICE U. S. ARMORY,
Harper's Ferry, Va., February , 1827.
No persons, other than those employed, are admitted into the workshops, except visitors desiring to see the works.
Persons wishing to do so will please mention the object of their visit to the watchman at the gate, who will show them the way.
All others having business at the armory are requested to call at the commanding officer's office.
COMMANDING OFFICER'S OFFICE,
Rules and Regulations for the Workshops of the United States Armory
1. All persons who engage themselves as workmen in the armory bind themselves, by so doing, to obey the rules and regulations established by proper authority, and the orders and directions of the foremen, or other persons authorized to give such directions.
2. As prescribed by the ordnance. regulations, all workmen are engaged by the day. Every one employed can leave when he pleases, and the commanding officer can cease to employ any one when he pleases. A month's notice will always be given, when possible, if persons are to be stopped for want of work, and workmen intending to leave for other employment are expected, when they can do so, to give a like notice.
3. Punctual attendance is required at bell-ring; all persons who are not: present then will be allowed to work but three-fourths of that day.
4. All workmen are required to occupy themselves during working hours with their work ; and will not be permitted to break off until the bell rings for ceasing work, without first notifying their foreman, and getting his consent to their leaving.
5. If any person wishes to be absent more than a day, after obtaining the consent of his foreman he will apply to the master-armorer, who will authorize his absence for such time as he can be spared. Persons who absent themselves without giving this notice will be considered as having left the employment.
6. Visitors who are desirous of seeing the works will be allowed to pass through all the shops, and the foremen in charge will show them any attention in their power, and will direct the shop-tenders to accompany them if necessary.
7. No persons are permitted to visit the shops for the purpose of transacting private business of any kind, or to interfere with or interrupt the workmen during working hours.
Extracts from the regulations for the government of the Ordnance department:
"Whenever at national armories, arsenals, or ordnance depots, any hired workman shall, through incompetency, carelessness, or design, spoil any piece of work in the execution of which he may be engaged, it shall be the duty of the commanding officer to cause the amount of injury to be estimated, and give the necessary orders to the paymaster to stop the same from the pay of such workman."
"Workmen or others employed by hire in the Ordnance department shall be paid only for such days, or parts of days, as they may actually labor in the service of said department."
"The working hours for hired men at ordnance establishments shall be so arranged as to average ten hours a day throughout the year, working by day-light only."
"The public workshops, tools and materials, must be used solely for purposes of public benefit, and all private work in the public buildings, and all other application of public means to any other than public purposes, is expressly prohibited."
The above is published for the information of all concerned.
Each foreman is specially charged to see that these rules are strictly observed by all under his control.
Colonel United States Army
COMMANDING OFFICER'S OFFICE, June 20, 1853.
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