Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 356
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James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
 
Page 356
 
 
gun. True policy requires that steps should be taken to introduce these arms gradually into our service.” But on October 22, 1864, the chief of ordnance reported to Stanton, “The use of breech-loading arms in our service has, with few exceptions, been confined to mounted troops,” and on December 5, 1864, he returned to the subject thus: “The experience of the war has shown that breech-loading arms are greatly superior to muzzle-loaders for infantry as well as for cavalry, and that measures should immediately be taken to substitute a suitable breech-loading musket in place of the rifle musket which is now manufactured at the National Armory and by private concerns for this department.” Some one ought to have known this at least three years earlier and to have made it his business to press the importance of it upon the President, the Secretary of War and Congress. The Prussians had used a breech-loading rifle in the Revolution of 1848 and again in the Schleswig-Holstein war of 1864 and the infantry of the Northern army ought to have been armed with a similar gun for their campaigns twelve months before Lee’s surrender. Our few regiments which had repeating and breech-loading rifles did such effective execution that the dramatic scene of Königgratz—a great battle between an army with breech-loaders and one with muzzle-loaders—ought to have been anticipated by two years and played upon the field of Virginia or in the mountains of Georgia. In the art of war we showed ourselves inferior to the Prussians but the fault was not with American inventive talent. Excellent arms were offered to the Government and it is safe to say that, had its administration of technical affairs equalled that of the Pennsylvania Railroad or some of our large manufacturing establishments, the army would have had the improved weapons.  20
 
 

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