They Had Been So Sold,
And Then, In April, 1861, They Had Been Bought Again For The
Government By The Indefatigable Cummings For 3l. Each.
were again sold as useless for 14s. each to Eastman, and instantly
rebought on behalf of the government for 4l. 8s. each!
war purposes they may have been, but as articles of commerce it must
be confessed that they were very serviceable.
This last purchase was made by a man named Stevens on behalf of
General Fremont, who at that time commanded the army of the United
States in Missouri. Stevens had been employed by General Fremont as
an agent on the behalf of government, as is shown with clearness in
the report, and on hearing of these muskets telegraphed to the
general at once: "I have 5000 Hall's rifled cast-steel muskets,
breach-loading, new, at 22 dollars." General Fremont telegraphed
back instantly: "I will take the whole 5000 carbines. . . . I will
pay all extra charges." . . . . And so the purchase was made. The
muskets, it seems, were not absolutely useless even as weapons of
war. "Considering the emergency of the times?" a competent witness
considered them to be worth "10 or 12 dollars." The government had
been as much cheated in selling them as it had in buying them. But
the nature of the latter transaction is shown by the facts that
Stevens was employed, though irresponsibly employed, as a government
agent by General Fremont; that he bought the muskets in that
character himself, making on the transaction 1l. 18s. on each
musket; and that the same man afterward appeared as an aid-de-camp
on General Fremont's staff.
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