In this letter, Chief of Ordnance Brigadier General Ripley derides the new breech-loading arms and states that he is unconvinced that they are as effective for military use as the existing muzzle-loading rifle muskets
In this endorsement to a letter (not shown) offering to provide the government with breech-loaders, General Ripley lists his complaints about the new weapons due to their lack of field testing, special ammunition requirements, and cost.
In this letter to the Secretary of War, General Ripley describes the new repeating and breech-loading Henry and Spencer rifles, which he argues are no an important improvement over existing arms and which he does not recommend for purchase by the Army
In this excerpt from his Annual Report, the new Cheif of Ordnance, General Dyer recommends issuing breech-loaders to both Cavalry and Infantry
In this letter, General Dyer gives the Spencer Rifle a glowing review based on its wartime performance, much in contrast to General Ripley's earlier description
In this post war letter, General Dyer described the superiorty of breech-loaders over muzzle loaders that had became so apparent during the conduct of the Civil War
This exhibit explores the changing opinion of the U.S. Army Ordnance Department on the use of breech-loading arms during the Civil War using the official records and correspondence of the Department. While the conservative Chief of Ordnance, Brigadier General Ripley initially led the opposition to these weapons, the experience of the war gradually move opinion to greater favor for the tactical advantages provided by the new technology. This shift was greatly facilitated by the retirement of General Ripley and his replacement as Chief of Ordnance by General Dyer, who was much more positively disposed towards the new weapons. By the end of the war, the Ordance Department was calling for the establishment of breech-loaders as the standard issue arm for all troops, Cavalry and Infantry alike, and for the alteration of existing muzzle-loaders into breech-loaders.