ROCK ISLAND AND THE ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL
BY IRA OLIVER NOTHSTEIN
JULY eleventh, 1940 marked the passage of seventy-eight years since Congress authorized the erection of "an arsenal for the deposit and repair of arms and other munitions of war'' on Rock Island in the Mississippi River, between the cities of Rock Island and Moline, on the Illinois side, and Davenport on the Iowa side. The ultimate beginnings of this great and important institution, however, go back much further.
Twenty-two years earlier (in 1840) Congress had in fact established an arms depot on the island, using buildings originally erected in 1816 for the use of Fort Armstrong, and had for five years maintained it as the distributing center of arms and ammunition for the military forces of the Northwest. This depot was discontinued with the outbreak of the war with Mexico and its supplies transferred to St. Louis; but the War Department kept in mind the necessity of having an extensive armory in the Middle West and well knew the appropriateness of Rock Island for this purpose.
In 1854 the Secretary of War in his annual message assured Congress that the time had come to move one of the eastern arsenals to the Middle West, stating that this matter had heretofore received attention and had been the subject of frequent inquiries and that it probably
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