The 91st PA's early weapons

The 91st's early weapons

[source: Senate Executive Document 72, 'Letter of the Secretary of War, transmitting, in answer to a resolution of the Senate, a copy of the report of the commission on ordnance and ordnance stores made to the War Department. July 17, 1862'. Serial Set volume 1123, 37th Congress, 2nd session, session volume 6.]
[note: other documents are also relevant to the problems. See e.g. Justice's defense on pp.441 sqq]
[see weapons]

[page 445]
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 4, 1862.

GENERAL: In obedience to instructions of the Secretary of War, communicated from your office on the 28th ultimo, which, however, only reached me on the 2d instant, I yesterday inspected the arms of the 91st regiment of Pennsylvania volunteers, commanded by Colonel Gregory.

This regiment is now armed with the United States rifle musket, calibre .58, made at the Springfield armory in 1861. These arms, having been issued to the regiment on the 24th ultimo, are in fine order, and meet in all particulars the requirements of a good and serviceable weapon.

The "Justice musket" with which the 91st was, until recently, armed, having been inspected by Major Buford, assistant inspector general, and by him pronounced unserviceable, was returned into the Washington arsenal, and the regulation rifle musket issued in lieu thereof.

If the object of the inspection to be made by me was to determine whether or not payment should be made the contractor for the Justice musket, and I am led to infer that such was the object, would it not be advisable to have them inspected at the arsenal by a regularly appointed inspector?

As four-fifths of the 88th Pennsylvania volunteers were on detached service guarding the railroad to Manassas, I made no inspection of their arms yesterday, but will do so to-morrow, by which time the entire regiment will have returned to its encampment, near Cloud's mills.

I remain, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. JONES, Assistant Inspector General.

Brigadier General L. THOMAS,
Adjutant General U.S. Army, War Department, Washington.

[page 447]
Washington, May 23, 1862.

GENERAL: The commission request that Major Laidley may be instructed to inspect some few of the "Justice arms," if he has any on hand, comparing them with the sample arm stated to be at the Frankford arsenal, and making a report of the result to the commission. Please direct his attention to the rifling, malleable iron hammers, thin barrels, or those with bad flaws, the condition of the stocks as to shrinkage, and consequent looseness of the bands, &c.; the temper and strength of the ramrods and bayonets. A box or two will be sufficient to examine.

The commission also request that some of the arms returned by the 91st or 88th Pennsylvania volunteers to the Washington arsenal may be examined [page 448] there as to the rifling and any gross defects apparent, and report made. Please direct also that the sample gun may be sent here from the Frankford arsenal.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major of Ordnance

Brigadier General J. W. RIPLEY,
Chief of Ordnance.

[page 452 (part of the report of the Commission on Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, on Case no. 95--Philip S. Justice, of Philadelphia, dated 6 June 1862)]

It appears also that many varieties of pattern in both kinds ordered have been received, (five are now at the Washington arsenal,) and also that the pattern of the rifle musket deposited at the Frankford arsenal, and used as a standard for inspection, does not agree with the pattern shown to Lieutenant Treadwell by Mr. Justice, and described by him as having a "clasp bayonet." The standard has been examined by the commission, and has a bayonet of the model of 1822. These guns were issued, in part, to the 58th, 88th, and 91st Pennsylvania volunteers, and some remain in store at Fort Monroe and Frankford arsenal; all are stamped with Mr. Justice's name, as required by the Ordnance department, and can therefore be fully identified as those received under these orders.

Upon complaints of colonels of regiments and of department commanders, experienced officers, assistant inspectors Generals [sic] Jones and Buford, Colonel Doubleday, 4th New York artillery, and ordnance officers Lieutenants Hill and Harris, inspected with care and precision, at different times, the arms of the above-named regiments and others in the arsenal at Fort Monroe, and their reports before the commission concur in stating that they are unsafe and unserviceable, as well from special defects named as from the general character of the material and workmanship.

As these inspecting officers had no connexion with the regiments in whose hands the arms were, and as in two cases the arms were in store, not assigned to any regiment, the commission consider that the suggestion made by Mr. Justice that a desire for the new Springfield arms by the regiments caused a groundless prejudice against his arms, or produced the defects complained of by the bad treatment they received, cannot satisfactorily account for the defects reports.


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revised 23 Nov 08
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