Saturday, May 7, 2011

May 4, 1861 (Saturday): The Not So Big Bang Theory


Maj. Gen. George Cadwalader:
          Dear Sir: An examination of the muskets furnished to my command by gunsmiths and machinists has demonstrated that a great proportion of them are defective and wholly unfit for use.  In tapping the nipples in they have not been inserted straight, and the iron forced around them split.  They will not bear a pressure of air, which escapes around the nipple.  Numbers of the locks are insecurely fastened, and many of the barrels have flaws and holes in them one-sixteenth of an inch deep.  They are also filled in around the nipple with some soft metal.  The number thus defective and useless are two hundred and forty-six.  The balance are reported to be only in tolerable condition, and if taken apart and critically examined would no doubt be found to unsafe and useless.
       Very truly, yours,
                                                      P.LYLE, Colonel

Early on the need for weapons and material resulted in the acquisition of much defective equipmentFor example, the term "shoddy" refers to the practice of using swept up cloth scraps mixed with a paste to make uniforms.  One union regiment, thus attired at Fort Monroe, saw their uniforms come apart in a mild rainstorm.

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