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time, and yet make up a full month's work, without laboring longer than ten hours a day.
Secondly. It appears that an opinion prevails among the workmen that their monthly earnings ought not to appear too large on the pay roll, and, to avoid such a result, work is transferred from one to another, or kept back at the end of the month; and this has been done with the knowledge of the inspectors, though in direct violation of the regulations of the armory. These facts show a general looseness in the management of the armory, which could not exist in a private, and ought not to be permitted in a public establishment.
The board will now call your attention to the present tariff of prices. It is seen, from document E, that the cost of the labor on the musket has been increased within the last year from $6 50 to $8 27,, and for this increase the board can find no authority from the Secretary of War, while they find upon the records a positive order forbidding any change in the price of labor until such change shall be approved by him. The last change appears to have been made during the past winter, on the authority of the superintendent. It is understood to have been made at the suggestion of the workmen, and it is believed that the prices were mainly fixed by them. It was done in the absence of the master armorer, and without his concurrence or knowledge. Prices thus established would be likely to be exorbitant, and, when the present cost of the musket is compared with that of previous years, they are proved to be so.
Another subject to which we would invite your special attention is the loss which the Government has sustained in the manufacture of the gun barrel. During the administration of the late superintendent, the contracts for iron were confined to a few individuals. The late superintendent being absent, the board did not go into any of the reasons which led to this result; but they are clearly of opinion that the article furnished and used was of an inferior quality, and that the Government has thereby sustained a heavy loss. Within the last eight months, 4,102 barrels have been condemned, occasioning a loss to the Government of $9,784 07; while, with good material and proper workmanship, the loss ought not to have exceeded one-third of that amount. (See paper F.) This loss, however, is not wholly owing to the inferior material. The welding of the barrel is performed by the piece, and the workinen hurry so rapidly over their work as often to leave it in an imperfect state. If the defects are discovered by the inspector at the powder proof, the workman sustains the loss; but by far the greater portion of the defects remain undiscovered until the work has passed a certain stage, after which the loss falls upon the Government.
From the causes above named, the cost of the musket has been greatly increased within the last few years, as is shown in the paper marked Gthe lowest cost, in 1829, being $10 02; and the highest, in 1940, $17 40. The extraordinary cost in 1840 is, however, owing in part to the introduction of the new model, though mainly to bad material, imperfect work, and too high compensation for labor.
Without adverting further to particular facts, the board will express, their unanimous opinion derived from a full and careful examination of all the shops, from a close scrutiny into the books, from the testimony of the master armorer and the inspectors, and from the general aspect and appearance of the establishment, that there has been great looseness in the management of the armory; and although the machinery has been brought
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to a high degree of perfection, and the work done is generally creditable to the mechanics, yet these results have been attained by a lavish expenditure of the public money.
Supposing it to be the object of the Government to place the establishment on a permanent basis, and to make all the improvements which will conduce to the public interest, the board have the honor to make the following suggestions, which, if adopted by the Departınent, will, in their opinion, tend to accomplish these ends :
First. They deem it of priniary importance to have the armory under the direction of the Ordnance department. Such an arrangement will ensure a permanent and capable superintendent, over whom the department can exercise a military control, and who will be responsible in the penalty of his commission and his reputation as an officer for the faithful observance of all the regulations established by the department. It will also place the establishment beyond the control of local and political infuerices; give permanence and uniformity to all its operations, and ensure a just and impartial administration. It is of the first importance that the superintendent should be a man of science, well acquainted with the best models of the musket, versed in the construction and operation of machinery, educated in habits of punctuality and order, and accusiomed to control and direct the labor of others. These qualities, the board suppose, are more likely to be found in an Ordnance officer, who has attained sufficient rank in his corps to be intrusted with such important duties, than among the various applicants from civil life. Should the Department decide that existing laws require the appointment of a superintendent, not of the army, the board would suggest whether the interesi of the Government would not be best served by requiring him to perform all his duties under the direction of an officer of the ordnance corps. Had this corps been in existence at the time of the extablishment of the armories, there seems no reason to doubt that their entire direction would have been confided to it, as they were immediately transferred to it on its creation. This would have given their management to a military superintendent, and obviated the anomaly which has existed, of a military establishment under the direction of a military department, and yet subject to the superintendence of a civil head.
It is deemed a matter of absolute importance to the public interest, that the question of a military or civil superintendency shall be at once decided for, until this is done, nothing but excitement and discord can exist at the armory. The board entertain no doubt that, if the Department shall decide that the military control is at all hazards to be permanent, every thing here will at once shape itself to that decision, and order will prevail in every branch of the establishment.
Secondly. The board would recommend that, instead of the four clerks now employed, the number be reduced to three, to be styled “armory clerks." "These, if placed under the general direction of the superintendeni, will, in the opinion of the board, be able to do all the duty now discharged by the four, and thus a saving of 25 per cent. will be effected in the item of clerk hire. Perhaps the number may hereafter be reduced to two.
Thirdly. The board would recommend to vacate the places of the four inspectors at the water shops. It will be seen from the proceedings of the board, and indeed from the testimony of the inspectors themselves, that this can be done without the slightest injustice to the present incumbents. It
has already been remarked that these shops are distant from the offices of the establishment, and cannot therefore be under the immediate observation of the superintendent. It is at these that irregularities are most likely to occur. The board, therefore, recommend that, instead of an inspector for each shop, there be appointed an inspector of the water shops, with a compensation 25 per cent. above that of the other inspectors, who shall be lield responsible to the superintendent of the armory for the management of these shops. A faithful officer at the water shops, with the aid of a skilful and judicious foreman in each shop, to be styled assistant inspector,” will be able to do all the duties now performed by the four inspectors. This change is deemed essential to the good order of the establishment, and there is no doubt in the minds of the board that it will be both economical and salutary.
Fourthly. The board recommend that all persons employed in the establishment, who work at the same branch, shall commence and leave off work at the same time. To ensure the observance of this regulation, it will be necessary for the foreman or inspector of each shop to keep a time book, in which daily entries should be made of the time actually employed in labor by each mechanic. This will afford to the superintendent a certain means of regulating the price of labor on each of the several parts of the musket, and will enable the Department to revise the tariff of prices recommended by the board, to correct any errors they may have made, and to adjust any irregularities that may yet remain in the prices affixed to the several branches.
In all the establishments visited by the board, regularity in the hours of labor, whether the men worked by the piece or by the day, was considered indispensable ; and, indeed, the board do not understand how any estab. lishment can be well managed, if the workmen commence and discontinue work at pleasure. The fact that the work of the day may, by great effort, be despatched in a few hours, holds out a strong inducement to hurry over it; and the board do not doubt that a considerable proportion of the loss on defective barrels is attributable to this cause. Besides, a certain number of the workmen must always be employed by tlie day; and if those who work by the piece do not observe the same hours, the machinery must be kept in motion without performing full work. These, together with other inconveniences which result from the present arrangement, have caused the board to consider a change in this respect among the most important improvements of which the establishment is susceptible.
The board is of opinion that the barrel welders and bayonet forgers should be einployed seven hours per day, and that all the other workmen should be employed ten hours per day. In many of the establishments visited by the board, the laborers are occupied twelve hours per day, and in none of them less than ten hours. The work, also, at these establishments, is quite as hard and exhausting as at the armory.
Fifthly. The board have deemed it necessary to make an entire alteration in the tariff of prices. This they have found by far the most difficult of their duties. The number of operations to which prices are fixed is very large, amounting to some hundreds. Some of these operations are performed by machinery, some by hand labor, and some by the union of hand labor with niachinery.
The board have no doubt that, taking into consideration the perfection of the machinery, the mechanics are paid nearly 50 per cent. higher than
is paid for the same work in private establishments. Under the impression that the Government should observe some consistency in its rates of compensation, they have adopted a scale of prices intermediate between those now paid and the wages paid elsewhere. The highest rates of wages, even in the city of New York, do not, for workmen of the first class, range but a fraction over $2 per day, while in few establishments elsewhere do they reach that sum, and in several instances were found not to exceed $1 75.
It may be proper to remark here, that, owing to the high wages and the indulgence of the Government, there are in some of the shops men of advanced age, whose places could perhaps be better filled by younger and more active mechanics. If the Government consider only its pecuniary interests, several changes would probably be made. How far a long service, that has been amply paid, constitutes a claim for further employment, is a question which the board does not assume to decide.
After much consultation with the officers of the armory, and careful comparison of all the previous tariffs of prices, the board came unanimously to the conclusion to recommend the adoption of the tariff of prices herewith, (marked H.)
By reference to this tariff, it will be seen that the board has fixed the price of the labor on a musket at six dollars and fifty cents; and, while it is helieved that this is a very liberal allowance-much above that accorded to the workmen in private armories--still, to ensure stability in the operations of the armory, and to give the workmen an assurance that no sudden change will be made in their compensation, the board recommend that the tariff be permanently adopted, subject only to such alterations, if any, as may be found necessary to equalise the different branches with each other, leaving the aggregate cost of the labor $6 50 In case further laborsaving machinery is introduced, to give perfection to the work and assistance to the workiner, the prices of labor should be proportionably reduced.
It will be seen that the board has not recommended any reduction in the pay of the ivspectors. These officers should, in all cases, be taken from the most intelligent and industrious of the mechanics. It is deemeil desirable, by the board, to hold out to the workmen every inducement to perfect themselves as skilful mechanics; and the hope of being advanced to the grade of inspector, with a liberal compensation, cannot fail to operate as a powerful motive.
Sixthly. The board deem it to be essential to the good order of the establishment that no man who is employed by the day shall be permitted to work at the same time by the piece; and that no work done by one man shall be turned in in the name of another.
Seventhly. As the Government is very likely to sustain a heavy loss in the manufacture of the gun barrel, owing to defective iron and a want of fidelity in the workmanship, the board are of opinion that the interest of the Government would be promoted by procuring the barrels in a finished state. This, it is believed, can be done to any desirable extent, and on terms more favorable than they can be manufactured on public account.
Eighthly. As stocking the musket is by far the most difficult branch of its manufacture, and cannot be well done at the private armories, the board, would recommend an addition of two new stocking machines. With this addition to the armory, and the farming out of the barrels and some other
parts of the work, fifty thousand muskets per annum could be made, of a perfect and uniform model.
Ninthly. If it is not desirable to produce over thirteen thousand stand of arms a year, which is a little above the average of former years, the establishment will bear a considerable reduction from its present numbers. Two hundred men, including the inspectors, are sufficient for the manufacture of that number, and the surplus hands now employed may be discharged.
The board feel that they ought not to withhold their testimony to the valuable services rendered by the present master armorer. The improved machinery, which has contributed so much to perfect the musket, has been gotten up chiefly by him; and his mechanical skill and ingenuity may yet be of great service to the establishment.
The board have witnessed with regret the exercise of a strong local influerice, by the citizens and press of this place, in the affairs and management of the armory. It is an influence growing out of thļe feeling that the éstablishment is a local one, and should be managed with reference to the interests of the town. Such an influence will always be adverse to the interests of the Government, which can only be properly protected by regarding the establishment in its national character, and keeping it under the immediate control of the War Department.
In conclusion, the board would add, that every means of information has been afforded them by the superintendent; that all their conclusions have been formed after mature deliberation; and that they have recommended no changes about which there has been any difference of. opinion, or which, in their judgment, are not demanded by the public interest. All which is respectfully submitted.
SPRINGFIELD, (Mass.,) MONDAY, AUGUST 30, 1841. Under instructions from the Secretary of War, the board, composed of Charles Davies, Daniel Tyler, and John Chase, Esqs., met, for the purpose of examining into and reporting upon the condition and ma.agement of the United States armory at this place, and organized by electing Charles Davies, Esq., president, and receiving J. D. McPherson as secretary. In the absence of Major J. W. Ripley, commanding the armory,
with whom they were directed to put themselves in communication, the board adjourned from day to day until Thursday.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 1841. The board met, and, in compliance with their request, were furnished by Major Ripley with the paper here with, (marked A,) containing the points to which the attention of the board should be directed. The notice here. with, (marked B,) was ordered to be conspicuously posted in the six principal workshops of the armory, to visiting which the remainder of the day was devoted.