A Western Armory.
From the notices of the press, in this and other western states, which we have published, it is plain that the wants of the great northwest demand an establishment in the valley of the Mississippi for the manufacture of arms, ambulances, wagons, camp equippage, etc., and that public sentiment points to the Island of Rock Island as the proper place for its location. That we need such an establishment is abundantly proved by the course of the war, by the great delays in arming troops, and consequently sending them to the field, and by the fact that should a sudden necessity arise there is no place in the west to which the soldiery of the country can resort for weapons to meet an enemy. If, by the mutations of the fortunes of war, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota or Wisconsin should be overrun by the rebels, where could our people procure arms to drive them back? Certainly it would be hazardous to wait until they could be transported from Pittsburgh, Watervliet, or other eastern armories. Yet we can literally do no better. The immense section of country which comprises the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas and Missouri, and all the great western territories, had absolutely no means of prompt and efficient armament. The statement of this fact is sufficient to prove the necessity for a remedy. The northwest will unite in declaring that it must be supplied with a national armory. The only question is where shall it be put?
It is well known to those familiar with the history of the west that the Island of Rock Island, containing about a thousand acres of land, nearly all the property of the United States, has been reserved by the government for more than twenty years, for this very purpose. It was a favorite project of the late Gen. Jessup to establish an armory and arsenal on this Island, and his influence was used for twenty years to keep the Island under the control of the war department for this purpose. It is known that Gen. Jefferson Davis, while secretary of war, urged its preservation for this purpose; and it is known that Gen. Scott was warmly in favor of the plan. Those who were intimate with Judge Douglas, during his lifetime, know that he was enthusiastic upon this point, and that it was a favorite idea with him, at a proper time, to bring forward this plan and urge its adoption. The editor of this paper has often heard him express these opinions, and strongly denounce the attempt to take the property out of the hands of the government by pretended preemption claims. There is no other place in all the west so central in its location, regarding the country to be supplied in the valley of the Mississippi and the great and rapidly growing territories of the west.
Besides the centrality of its location there is no other point possessing so many natural advantages for such an establishment, or a location so entirely safe from our enemies. It would be almost impossible for either a foreign foe, a domestic mob, or a traitorous rebellion to reach it. These considerations, which are ably set forth in our memorial to congress, designate Rock Island as the proper place for the location of such a government establishment. If plain facts and unanswerable arguments are to control the location, to place a copy of the memorial in the hands of the members of congress, and to solicit and secure a careful reading of it, is all that remains to be done. But he is a novice in the mysteries of Washington tactics who supposes that the plainest facts and the strongest arguments always govern the action of congress. Our own citizens and the leading men of the entire northwest should combine their influence and their energies, and they must work unceasingly until the bill establishing these important public works on the Island is passed, if they expect a measure so vital to our future safety to be adopted. The more pecuniary interest which our city has in securing the location is a small matter, compared with its importance to the safety of the entire northwest. On this point, the experience of the past few months is conclusive. Had an armory been located here, double the men from our own and adjoining states, all well equipped, would have been in the field fighting the battles of freedom. For all time to come the northwest has a right to expect that she will be spared the humiliation in which the want of arms and the impossibility to supply them have placed her.
What we need now is that every citizen of Rock Island, Davenport and Moline, and of the northwest, should at once bring all his influence to bear to secure a recognition of our claims at Washington. Let every man who knows a member of congress, whether from the east or west, write to him, setting forth the reasons for the location of an armory here. Let the memorial of the committee be placed in the hands of every man who can make any influence, with a personal request that he use the facts it contains where they will be most effective.
Our city council has appointed the mayor, Hon. Bailey Davenport, Judge Wilkinson, Judge Drury, Col. N. B. Buford and H. C. Connelly, Esq., to take charge of the matter for this city. The committee is composed of men distinguished for their integrity, shrewdness and tact, and they will (with the exception of Col. Buford who is now at the head of his regiment) devote their entire time to the subject, and be at Washington at the opening of congress. We hope Col. Buford may also get leave of absence long enough to be in Washington a portion of the winter. If not, we doubt not he will correspond largely with his acquaintances who will be there. Convincing arguments and undoubted facts are of no avail unless they are pressed upon the right men at the right time, and by persons whose sterling character will command respect. Such effects will be sure to win.
Let the proper efforts be made, now, and the location of the armory secured here, and this locality would soon become one of the most industrious, thriving, populous and important points in the west.