Possible Replacement of Head of Army Ordnance

January 24, 1862

President Lincoln had a strong interest in science and engineering. As president, he applied that interest to the development of weapons for the Union Army and Navy – even testing weapons on the White House lawn or visiting the Navy Yard to watch ordnance tests. The head of army ordnance, James Wolfe Ripley, was obstreperous and short-sighted about implementing military innovations.

Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton suggested that a change was necessary. Lincoln endorsed his note: “The Secretary of War has my authority to exercise his discretion in the matter within mentioned.” Regrettably for the equipment of Union forces, Ripley would remain in office for more than a year. He opposed the production of breech-loading rifles – a position that ultimately led to his dismissal.

Lincoln’s mind must have been stimulated to consider other ordnance matters because he wrote Stanton: “On reflection, I think you better make a peremptory order on the ordnance officer at Pittsburg to ship the ten mortars and two beds to Cairo instantly, and all others as fast as finished, till ordered to stop, reporting each shipment to the department here.”

Published in: on January 24, 2012 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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