The charges against General Dyer were strongly urged, and have attracted much attention. Many who felt themselves much aggrieved by the treatment they had received from the Ordnance Department, were extremely bitter in their accusations, and vindictive in feeling toward the Chief of Ordnance. A brief summary of the principal charges preferred may be necessary to give our readers a full understanding of the merits of the case. It was charged against General Dyer, that he was himself an inventor, and that he took advantage of his position to advance his personal interests, regardless of the interests of the Government or the merits of inventions submitted to the De. partment. It was further charged that byjintrigue, in which he was assisted by other officers of the Department, he indirectly obtained the removal of Gen. Ramsey, and obtained his own appointment, in order to further the interests of certain contractors in whose transactions he was interested. He was also charged with sending in an insufficient report, ?when the Congressional Committee made requisition for it, and willful suppression of important facts. He was further charged with instituting what has been known as the " Rifle Projectile Branch," entailing thereby a heavy expense upon the Government; that he exposed official matters to subordinates; that he denied the claims of Mr. Wall, the inventor of the " Springfield Alteration," etc., etc. But the charge which seemed to imply the greatest dereliction of duty on the part of Gen. Dyer was, that he refused to purchase and introduce certain projectiles which it is alleged he ought to have purchased. A great deal of rancor has been displayed, and the prosecution have said many hard things during the course of the trial, but it has resulted in the entire acquittal of Gen. Dyer and the confirmation by President Grant of the finding of the court. Notwithstanding there are many throughout the country who will remain unconvinced of the justice of the decision, we think no other could have been expected from the evidence produced, and we should be most loth to assent to the charge of unfairness on the part of the officers who composed the court, which has been made from some sources. We have not space to give a synopsis of the evidence taken, which was very voluminous, but the opinion of the court upon the charge of not purchasing projectiles, which, as we have intimated, seemed to be the gravest charge preferred, gives a summary of the testimony upon this point. The court said that " the question, according to the evidence presented, appears to be narrowed down to the inquiry, whether or not he was derelict in his duty in not purchasing, at an earlier date, a supply of the Eureka projectiles for service in the field ; for, it appears by the evidence that full supplies were at all times in store for issue, either manufactured at the arsenals or procured through purchase—by General Dyer or his predecessors in office—of the Hotchkiss and Par-rott and other proj ectiles, which previous to that time had been, or afterward were, considered valuable for service. " Previous to the order of the 27th of February, 1865, the date of the order to Clifford Arrick, for 5,000 Eureka projectiles for experimental purposes in the field, it does not appear to the court that the Eureka had shown itself superior to some others of the most approved projectiles. Therefore, 3teneral Dyer, in not purchasing them to the exclusion of others, or in larger quantities than he did, only exercised such latitude of judgment as must always be permitted to officers in such official position. Nor is there any evidence to sustain a belief that he was governed at any time by improper or corrupt motives in not making earlier or larger purchases of the Eureka projectiles. The court believes that the relative merits of the Eureka, the so-called Taylor-Dyer, the Abgterdam of the latest pattern, and possibly others, have not yet been fully established. The Eureka, from the evidence, appears to have qualities which make it the equal of the best, and it is believed thai further trials, such as were recommended by the Ordnance Board of 1868 for the Taylor-Dyer and Eureka, will determine which projectile or projectiles of those now most approved should be adopted hereafter for services in the field." We shall give on another page some oi the conclusions of the Joint Committee on Ordnance on experiments with heavy ordnance, of interest to inventors, as showing the views of the Committee upon the requirements of modern ordnance. It is a fact of great significance that this Committee believes the Ordnance Department of the Army may be entirely abolished without detriment to the good of the service, and with great economy to the Government.
This article was originally published with the title "General Dyer's Vindication" in Scientific American 20, 24, 377-378 (June 1869)