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points growing in value as well as in number, there should arise & necessity for an increase in the number of the officers whose ordinary and most important function is to provide the defences for these coasts, and, in addition, for a long line of land frontier facing the possessions of a powerful nation.
In my annual report for this year, (printed among the documents accompanying the President's message, I have stated this question quite at large, and beg now to refer to that report for my deliberate views on the subject; merely adding, here, that for such a supervision as the public interests require of the works of fortification and other operations assigned by law to the corps of engineers, there is required, to meet an absolute and positive want, an addition of thirty officers to its members, as speedily as it can properly be made.
It appears, then, that the augmentation of the corps of engineers proposed in the bill is in exact accordance, as to numbers, with the present measure of our need.
Considering the grades proposed to be added by the bill, the result will be two colonels, two lieutenant colonels, and eight majors, as the field officers of the corps. I submit, however, that two colonels, four lieutenant colonels, and eight majors, would be a juster apportionment of the field officers—lessening the number of officers below the grade of major by the number (2) added to the field officers, and leaving the total proposed addition (30) unchanged. With an addition to the cost, as proposed in the bill, of $1,667 50 per annum, every expense included, this would be an important gratification in the line of promotion; and, as I sincerely believe that encouragement, good heart, and esprit du corps maintained by such an organization would, as a mere matter of economy, be a material gain, I earnestly recommend this modification of the bill to the committee. And this arrangement will accord much better with the practice of nations of larger military experience than ourselves. In the English service there are in the engineers fourteen colonels, seventeen lieutenant colonels, and seventeen majors; and in the very perfect military organization of the French service, where there are no unnecessary officers or grades, there are twenty-nine colonels, fifty-six lieutenant colonels, and fiftythree majors of engineers.
I have several times asked that another company of engineer soldiers might be provided. The one we have is very useful, but its numbers will not allow of the detachments from it that are desirable. A large part of the existing company is required to aid in giving instruction in practical engineering to the cadets of the Military Academy. Allowing, for the care of the engineer trains, for guards, drills, sick, occasional small detachments for special objects; bearing in mind that & company can never be kept up to its legal organization, and that some of its members are themselves learners, it will be seen that few or none can be left to serve “in overseeing and aiding laborers upon fortifications, &c," and "in supervising finished fortifications," as is provided for by the law establishing the company. (See law of May 15, 1846, vol. IX, page 12, Little & Brown's edition.) Hence, another company is required, on the grounds of efficiency and economy, in this branch of the public service.
On the proposition to place a brigadier general at the head of the corps under the contemplated reorganization I have nothing to say.
I come now to the second clause of the third section, which proposes to discontinue the corps of topographical engineers, and to transfer its officers to the corps of engineers, or other corps or regiments, as the President may see fit.
The corps of topographical engineers was first regularly organized in 1838, prior to which time its officers were taken from the regiments of the army, by selecting just as those of the Adjutant General's, Quartermaster General's, and Commissary's departments are now supplied. Whether injustice or undue hardship would result to such officers by returning them to regimental positions is not for me to say. Nor have I any doubt that the duties now pertaining to the corps of topographical engineers are appropriate to the officers of my own corps, who are now liable, under laws or regulations, to do all such duty, and who actually perform such duty from time to time. If, therefore, the question were now presented to me, whether it would be advantageous—supposing that no corps of topographical engineers were now in existence in our army—to make such separate organization, I should say that it was uncalled for, and contrary to the practice of other nations.
But the two corps now exist; and the question whether they can, with propriety, be now blended into one, is of very different import.
My opinion clearly is that they cannot, with propriety, be so blended, and for the following reasons:
Congress has thought proper to declare, in the 63d article of war, that the functions of the engineers are generally confined to the most elevated branches of military science, and, in accordance with that declaration, the Academic Board of the Military Academy are required to recommend the graduates for promotion in the following order: 1st. Only a few at the head of the class for the engineers, and all other arms of service: a few classes have not afforded any with this recommendation for the engineers. 2d. Others (next below those recommended for the corps of engineers) are recommended for the topographical engineers, and all other arms excepting the engineers. The promotions are made in accordance with these designations by the Academic Board.
Now, I do not mean to say anything as to whether as large an amount of ability and acquirements are, or are not, desirable for the duties of a “topographical engineer” as for an "engineer;” but I think it is plain that the best graduates of the academy do, as a matter of fact, under the foregoing system of promotion, go into the "engineers,” and that only the next best go into the topographical engi
And the article of war referred to above states explicitly that the "engineers” belong to the most elevated branch of science in our army organization.
The actual class rank of the officers of the two corps is in accordance with the above. It will be seen by reference to the register of the graduates of the Military Academy, up to the year of publicationthat is, from 1819 to 1849—that the graduates appointed into the engineers varied from 1st to 7th, and that their average standing is
expressed by 21, (nearly;) some classes, as before said, not furnishing any officers to that corps. The class rank of the graduates appointed to the corps of topographical engineers, in the same time, varied from 1st through 7, 9, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, to 25, and in one instance to 55, the average being 111. Surely, injustice to the one corps, if not injury to the public service, would result from the transfer proposed to be made into the corps of engineers.
But I have thus far examined only the entrance of the graduates into service. Most of our officers have served for years—5, 10, 20, 40 years. The knowledge of his profession, requisite to fit the officer of the corps of engineers for the discharge of his duties, is not to be acquired from books alone, though books have closely to be studied. It is experience, constant and varied, in the application of scientific or technical principles to the endless variety of circumstances, geographical, topographical, and climatic, which gradually raises him, step by step, in the labors and responsibilities of his corps. His studies, which must be unremitting to maintain proper command of the various branches of science that he must make tributary to his wants, must be especially so in those that are peculiar to his profession—those that are exclusively his—those which, of themselves, occupy the mind for life, and suffice, alone, to give historic reputation to such as succeed in them.
The word "engineer"—the title of one of the corps, and part of the title of the other—must not mislead. The "civil engineer,” the “steam engineer,” the engineer-ship-builder of the French, &c., all have a common basis of pure science with the “topographical engiDeer" and the "engineer" of the engineer corps; and there are certain applications of science that are common; but it is not more so with these than with the other branches of military science-as, for instance, the ordnance and artillery. And it may, in my opinion, be said with perfect truth, that there is no greater fitness in a topographical engineer for the duties of the corps of engineers—for those duties, I mean, that are peculiar to the latter body, constituting its most important functions and characteristics-duties for which it was specially created, has been maintained, and which have yielded its most important fruits—than there is in any other officer whose studies have had a scientific basis. Of course, I am understood in all this to mean nothing like a boast–certainly nothing of the nature of a reproach or slur, for no one has a higher admiration than I have for the services and achievements of the corps of topographical engineers, in which there are several officers that I am proud to reckon as my friends. I mean, simply, that even those officers whose studies have been most severe, and success most brilliant, in the topographical ,corps, have not included those particular studies, nor had those peculiar applications of science, which are indispensable to the education and experience of the officer of engineers. The great body of the topographical officers are, and for years past have generally been, employed in surveys, in running boundary lines, in the prosecution of intricate and delicate astronomical observations, in works of geology, topography, and hydrography—very important branches, it is true, of the multifarious art of the engineer, but having no affinity
with planning and constructing systems and works of fortification. And it is no more a reproach to say that they are not prepared for the duties of the corps of engineers, than to say that they are not prepared to lay down the lines, to designate the proportions and details, and direct the construction of the hull, spars, rigging, and sails of a ship-of-war.
To transfer them, then, will be to put them in positions for which they are prepared neither by study nor practice. It would be placing them, moreover, above officers who do possess these qualifications, and whose zealous devotion and efficient service will, I must hope, secure them from such injustice. It will, moreover, be doing the great personal injustice, in several instances, of depressing officers of the highest merit-officers who have rendered most important services, and to whom all the promotion that our army grades could supply would be no more than just acknowledgment—below others who were junior graduates, and who certainly cannot compare with them as to qualification for the duties of the corps. To illustrate this last point, let me add, that it would entitle to the place of second major a transferred officer who was 19 in his class of twenty-three members, at the same time making seventh major of the officer of engineers who not only was at the head of the same class, but who is universally reckoned as one of the ablest men in the army. Again: the senior captain of engineers entered the army in 1819; the junior major of topographical engineers was his classmate, but graduated four files lower; and I could adduce many other cases that would work grievous injustice.
The union of the two corps, then, at this day, will, in my judgment, work a breach of faith to the officers of my corps, to whom the great stimulus to exertion, while at the Military Academy, was the assurance that if they could enter the corps, their relative position there should be determined by the class standing; while it will not facilitate, but positively impede, the discharge of their respective duties, and will work an amount of bitter feeling among officers who, fostered by a common alma mater, have heretofore entertained towards each other none but friendly regards, neither justified nor compensated by any advantage to the public interest.
But aside from these considerations, I desire to press upon the committee the urgent necessity for an increase of the corps of engineers by a different process—that, I mean, before mentioned, which is to be found in my annual report. The proposed addition, by the transfer of topographical officers, will not afford the needed relief, for the general reasons stated above; and because they would necessarily bring with them all their present duties, which, I have no doubt, occupy them fully. That corps now consists of forty members; and should thirty of these be transferred, on this latter number would fall all the duties of the forty, which, instead of affording relief, would obviously and very materially add to the present burden of the now overloaded corps.
Called upon to express my views, I could not do otherwise than state them freely when I saw impending over the corps of engineers 80 serious an infliction. In my desire not to extend these remarks
beyond the point whither I might hope the patience of the committee would attend me, I have omitted several remarks that might have given weight to the general purpose of my argument. The main points are
1. That the proposed enlargement of the corps of engineers is necessary to the public service, should be entered upon without delay, and can be safely accomplished only by additions to the bottom of the corps of qualified graduates.
2. That the mode of enlargement by transferring into it a portion of the topographical corps, as proposed in the bill—or a portion of any other corps—would not afford the relief contemplated by the bill, but would augment the present excess of duty, would work detriment to the public service, injustice to the corps of engineers, and serious injury to individual officers.
Section 4. All that I have said respecting the transfer of topographical officers to the corps of engineers, applies with at least equal force to such a transfer of ordnance officers. I cannot suppose that this is intended; but the language of the section would authorize it, and should, therefore, be corrected.
My opinion has always been, that, under the present organization, there is too wide a separation of the ordnance from the artillery. If the details for ordnance duties shall generally be supplied by the artil-. lery, it is my opinion it will be better for both, as well as for the general military service.
Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. I have not studied these sections with the care and attention that would justify my occu-pying the time of the committee with remarks. Most of them, however, have my entire concurrence; and it is only the contemplated change in the mode of providing for staff duties, on which, before I can form decided opinions, I need better opportunities than I have yet had for examination. The routine of my duties has seldom brought me into situations for judging critically of the working of the present system. But on all such points, reliable information will no doubt be communicated by the high officers connected with the several staff departments.
The act authorizing the existing company of engineer soldiers, has recently been so construed as to deprive its members of the benefit of the per diem given by law to all soldiers when at constant labor for ten days or more. The effect of this is, that the engineer soldiers when at such work receive less pay than any other soldiers; in some cases less than half as much. The engineer soldiers are enlisted with the understanding and expectation that they are to receive higher pay than those of other arms. It is so provided by the law; and for the reason that none but superior men, men of athletic bodies, mechanics, and educated men, will answer the requirement of engineer duty. But now they lose this advantage whenever they have to be set to work. Thus, suppose a private of engineers and one of dragoons are employedtoge ther “as laborers or teamsters'' in California: the former will be paid at the rate of $13 per month, the latter at the rate of $22 50. If they work together as “mechanics,” the engineer will get $13, and the dragoon $27. I do not interpret the law in this way, I
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