« AnteriorContinua »
in such a manner as to secure them from enterprises in boats or small vessels. To that end $50,000 may be assigned to each.
St. Helena sound.—The proper defences cannot be pointed out till this sound shall have been surveyed.
Although there is supposed to be no great depth of water on the bar, it is known to be navigable by the smaller class of merchantmen, and to have a narigable communication with the head of Broad river or Port Royal, intersecting the interior navigation between Charleston and Savannah. l'his sound will require defence, even should it not be of much use as a harbor of refuge for exterior commerce. $150,000 may be the cost of the defences.
Broad river or Port Royal roads.—The value of this capacious roadstead. as a harbor of refuge, depends on the depth which can be carried over the bar, on the distance of this bar outside of the line of coast, and on the means which may be applicable of lessening the danger of crossing it. This is supposed to be the deepest bar of the southern coast. Should there prove to be water enough for frigates, and by light-houses on the shore, and lights, or other distinet guides, on the bar, should it be practicable to make the passage of the bar safe and easy, this road, situated within sixty miles of Charleston and twenty of Savannah river, intersecting the interior navigation between these great cities, thereby securing the arrival of supplies of every kind, would possess a very high degree of importance, not only as a harbor of refuge, but as a naval station also.
The survey of the exterior shoals, constituting the bar, should be made with the greatest care, and all possible minuteness. It is only when this shall have been done that the true relation of this inlet to the rest of the coast can be known, and on this relation the position and magnitude of the required defences will depend. For the present, the estimate made by the engineer department is adopted, namely, $300,000.
Savannah and mouth of Savannah river.-Mention has been made of the natural interior water communication along the coast of South Carolina. A similar communication extends south from the Savannah river, as far as St. John's, in East Florida. Owing to these passages, the city of Savannah, like Charleston, is liable to be approached by other avenues than the harber or river; and its defences must consequently have relation to these lesser as well as the principal channels.
The distance from the mouth of Wassaw sound, or even Ossabaw sound, (both to the southwest of Savannah river,) to the city, is not much greater than from the mouth of the river; and an enterprise may be conducted the whole distance by water, or part of the way by water and part by land, from either or both. As in the case of like channels in the neighborhood of Charleston, it cannot now be determined where they can be defended most advantageously. It is to be hoped, however, that the localities will permit the defences to be placed near the outlets of the sound; because the defences thus placed will serve the double purpose of guarding the city of Savannah and covering these harbors, which, in time of war, cannot but be very useful.
The defence of Savannah river is by no means difficult. A fort on Cockspur island, lying just within the mouth, and perhaps, for additional security, another on Tybee island, which forms the southern cape at the junction of the river with the ocean, would effectually prevent the passage of vessels up the channel, and cover the anchorage lying between Tybee and Cockspur. The existing Fort Jackson, standing about four miles below the city, should be maintained as a second barrier, both as respects the main channel and the passages which come into the river from the south; which last would not at all be controlled by works on Cockspur or Tybee. A fort projected for Cockspur island is estimated at $470,000. To defend Tybee island may require $150,000, and $50,000 would put Fort Jackson in an efficient state, making a total of $670,000. South of the Savannah are Wassaw sound, Ossabaw sound, St. Catharine's sound, at the mouth of the Medway river; Sapelo sound, Doboy inlet, Altamaha sound, at the mouth of the great river of the same name; St. Simon's sound, at the mouth of Buffalo creek; St. Andrew's sound, at the united mouths of the Scilla and Santilla rivers; and Cumberland sound, at the mouth of the St. Mary's river All these communications with the ocean are highly important, as regards the line of interior navigation, and several of them as affording access to excellent harbors. The last, especially, is known to be navigable by the largest sloops-of-war and merchantmen; and two or three of the others are believed to be but little, if at all inferior, either as regards depth of bar or safety of anchorage.
All these inlets are yet to be surveyed. Some of them are probably easily defensible by forts, and other may require the aid of floating defences. An important principle in relation to the defensive system of the whole southern coast, namely, that, on a coast possessing a few harbors, it is at the same time the more necessary to preserve them all for our own use, and the more easy to deprive an enemy of that shelter which is nearly indispensable to a continuous and close blockade. This principle is enforced as touching this particular part of the southern coast by the two following weighty considerations: its remoteness from the nearest naval rendezvous, the Chesapeake, which is on a mean 600 miles distant, and to leeward, both as to wind and current; and its being close upon the larboard hand, as they enter the Atlantic, of the great concourse of vessels passing at all seasons through the Florida channel.
While, therefore, this part of the coast, from the concentration of vessels here, is in great need of protection of some sort, naval aid can be extended to it only with difficulty, and at the risk of being cut off from all retreat by a superior enemy.
Accurate and minute surveys which will enable our vessels, whether driven by an enemy or by stress of weather, to shun the dangers which beset the navigation of these harbors, and properly arranged defences to cover them when arrived, seem to be indispensable. It is worthy of remark, besides, that when these harbors shall be fortified the operation of visiting the coast and watching the great outlet of commerce through Florida passage will be a difficult and hazardous one to an enemy, on whose part no perseverance or skill can avail to maintain an uninterrupted blockade, or to avoid the occasional shipwreck of his cruisers; while on the part of our small vessels-of-war and privateers the same sort of supervision will at all times be easy and safe.
Nothing better can be now done than to assume $200,000 as the average cost of defending each of the nine entrances, giving a total of $1,800,000.
The board of engineers have not examined the coast from the mouth of the St. Mary's to Pensacola, but in order that the chain of defence for the coast may be here exhibited unbroken, the estimates of the engineer department for the places and positions intermediate between Cumberland sound and Pensacola will be inserted. St. Augustine, $50,000; Key West and Tortugas, $3,000,000; Charlotte harbor, Espiritu Santa bay, Apalachicola, Apalache bay, St. Joseph's bay, St. Rosa bay, together, $1,000,000.
GULF OF MEXICO FRONTIER. The resemblance of this part of the coast to that which we have denominated the southern section is striking. We may, indeed, refer to the description herein given of the principal features of the latter as a true delineation of this. In respect to the relation of the coast to the interior, there is, however, the greatest difference between these two portions of the maritime frontier ; for while about eight-tenths of the whole territory of the United States is in one sense tributary to a part only of the Gulf of řexico portion, in the southern section of the coast not more than one-tenth is connected with the seaboard by any natural ties. This fact, which shows the very deep interest which a large portion of the people and the government have in the security of this portion, is related to other facts which hardly leave an alternative as to the mode of attaining that security.
From the relative geographical position of this part of the coast, and the country interested in its safety ; from the unhealthiness of the climate, nature of the adjacent country, and mixed character of the inhabitants, it will be some time before that portion, within supporting distance, whose welfare may be endangered by an enemy will, from peculiar circumstances, be competent of itself to sustain the assaults of an exterior foe. Upon the Atlantic seaboard the Alleghanies crowd the people upon the coast, and surround every alarm post of the frontier with a more and more dense population; and the ocean and the interior parallel communication transmit rapid aid to the right and left, while the coast of the Gulf, weak in itself and remote from succor from behind, is almost inaccessible to lateral assistance.
Those reasons, therefore, which tend to establish the necessity of an organized, a permanent, and a timely system of defence for the whole seaboard of the United States (some of which were advanced in the commencement of this communication) will apply to this part of it with a peculiar force so long as any portion of its system of defence is incomplete.
It has already been observed that the board of engineers have made no examination between Cumberland sound, in Georgia, and Pensacola. There are, however, along that shore and in the Florida reef several very important harbors which must be accurately surveyed.
Pensacola bay.—The upper arms of this considerable bay receive the Yellowwater or Pea river, Middle river, and Escambia river; and while the tributaries of the last, interlocking with branches of the Alabama and the Chattahoochie, seem to mark the courses whereby, at some future day, canals will convey a part of the products of these rivers to Pensacola, the face of the whole region is remarkably adapted to the application of railroads.
Santa Rosa sound extends eastward from the lower part of this bay into Santa Rosa bay. On the west the lagoons of Pensacola, Perdido, and Mobile bays, respectively, interlock in such a manner as to require but a few miles of cutting to complete a navigable channel from the first to the last-named bay, and thence through an existing interior water communication to the city of New Orleans.
Pensacola bay has rare properties as a harbor. It is accessible to the largest class of sloops-of-war and to small frigates, and under favorable circumstances will admit even large frigates; and there is reason to hope that the bar may be permanently deepened.
The bar is near the coast, and the channel through it is straight and easily hit.
The harbor is perfectly land-locked, and the roadstead very capacious. There are excellent positions within it for repairing, building, and launching vessels, and for docks and dock-yards, in healthy situations. The supply of good water is abundant. It is perfectly defensible. These properties, in connexion with the position of the harbor as regards the coast, have induced the government to fix upon it as a naval station and place of rendezvous and repairs.
An excellent survey has been made of the bay of Pensacola, sufficing to form the scheme of defence, while no other objects were sought than the security of the town and harbor. Regarded, however, as a naval station and place of rendezvous and repairs, further surveys, extending a greater distance from the shores, delineating accurately the face of the country and showing the several avenues by land and water are found to be necessary.
The defences of the water passage, as projected, are nearly completed, $210,000 being asked to finish them. A further water defence at the position of the Barrancas, and the works that are indispensable to cover the navy yard from & lateral attack through the western bays—the latter requiring the further surveys
above mentioned-are not yet planned. The Barrancas work may be taken at $100,000, and the others at $300,000, making a total for Pensacola of $610,000.
Perdido bay.—This bay is intimately related to Pensacola and to Mobile bars, both as regards security and intercommunication, and should be carefully surveyed, with a view to these objects. It must be forfeited, and the cost may be $200,000.
Mobile bay.- The plan of defence for this bay comprised a fort at Mobile Point, which has been finished ; another on Dauphin island, and a tower at the Pass an Heron. The estimates for the two last named amount to $905,000.
New Orleans and the delta of the Mississippi.—The most northern water communication between the Mississippi and the Gulf is by the passage called the Rigolets, connecting Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain. The next is by the pass of Chef Menteur, also connecting these lakes. Through these passages an enemy entering Lake Pontchartrain would, at the same time that he intercepted all water communication with Mobile and Pensacola, be able to reach New Orleans from the southern shore of the lake, or might continue onward through Lake Maurepas, Amite river, and Iberville river, thereby reaching the Mississippi at the head of the delta ; or, landing within the mouths of Chef Menteur, he might move against the city along the ridge of the Gentilly road.
To the southwest of Chef Menteur, and at the head of Lake Borgne, is Bayou Bienvenu, a navigable channel, (the one pursued by the English army in the last war,) not running into the Mississippi, but possessing shores of such a nature as to enable troops to march from the point of debarkation to the city. A little to the south of this is Bayou Dupre, also affording easy access to the city. The avenues just named are defended by a fort at the Rigolets; another at Chef Menteur; another at Bayou Bienvenu, and a tower at Bayou Dupre.
The defences of the river are placed at the Plaquemine turn, the lowest position which can be occupied. Fort Jackson is on the right shore, and Fort St. Philip a little lower down, on the left: this last work must be repaired or renewed. The expense is estimated at $117,000.
The only permanent work required at present, west of the Mississippi, is a fort to occupy Grand Terre island, for the purpose of defending the entrance to Barrataria bay, an excellent harbor for a floating force guarding the coasting trade on that side, and whence there are several passages leading to the Mississippi, near New Orleans. The estimate for this work is $400,000.
Before leaving this part of the subject, it is necessary to advert to the important uses which may be made of movable floating defences in aid of fortifications.
The applications of this auxiliary force along the coast of the United States may be very numerous, and, as has been before remarked, would, in certain cases, be requisite to attain full security for all the objects needing protection. In the case we have just been considering, for example, fortifications will enable us to protect New Orleans, even from the most serious and determined efforts of an enemy; but, owing to the great width of the passages, we cannot, by fortifications alone, deprive an enemy of good exterior anchorages, especially the very excellent one west of Chandeleur island, nor entirely cover the interior water communications between the Rigolets and Mobile. We must, therefore, either quietly submit to all the annoyance and injury which an enemy in possession of these passages may inflict, or avert them by the timely preparation of a floating force
, adapted to their peculiar navigation, and capable, under the favorable shelter of the forts, of being always on the alert, and of assuming an offensive or defensive attitude, according to the designs, conduct, or situation of the enemy. As these means of defence are, however, secondary to fortifications, in every sense; as the extent to which they may be needed must depend on the relation of our naval force to that of other powers—a relation continually varying as the shapes which these auxiliaries are to assume—the materials of which they are to be formed, the weapons they are to use, the agent which is to give them power, are points on which every ten years of this age of rapid improvement in the arts may effect complete revolutions, it is considered premature to go into details, and premature to go into expense.
From the preceding sketch of the system projected for the defence of the seaboard of the United States, it appears that all the fortifications proposed are not of the same pressing necessity, nor of like importance. Some are required immediately, while the commencement of others may be postponed. In proceeding to class them, it must be observed that the works of the first class are those destined to prevent an enemy from forming a permanent or even a momentary establishment in the country, those which will defend the great naval arsenals, and those which will cover the chief cities and towns.
In the second class will be placed the works which are to defend those naval stations and those cities of a secondary rank, which, either from natural or artificial defences, existing works, &c., are not entirely without protection, and may, therefore, wait until the more important points are secured against a first attack; and in the third class will we arrayed the works which complete the defensive system in all its parts, but of which the construction may, without great danger, be deferred until the frontier shall have received all the successive degrees of strength resulting from a gradual erection of the forts of the first and second classes. A fourth class is added, containing such works as will be necessary only conditionally.
Table A, joined to this report, contains the first class, and shows that the works of this class will cost $11,609,444; will require 2,585 men to garrison them in time of peace, and 30,966 in case of siege.
Table B contains the works of the second class, showing that they will cost $5,873,000; will require 975 men to garrison them in time of peace, and 10,680 in case of siege.
Table C contains works belonging to the third class, showing that their cost will be $14,078,824; that their garrisons in time of peace will amount to 2,380 men, and in time of siege to 21,745 men; showing, also, that the total future expense of fortifying the maritime frontier will amount to $31,561,268; the troops necessary to guard these fortifications in time of peace to 5,940 men, and 63,391 men in time of war, supposing them all (which cannot happen) besieged at once.
The time required to construct the whole system must depend upon the annual appropriation which the nation may grant to this branch of the public service. All that need be said on the subject is, that in an undertaking necessarily involving so much time, and of such vital importance to the safety, prosperity, and greatness of the Union, there should be no relaxation of effort and perseverance. An undertaking of such magnitude must, with every effort, be the work of years. But it may be too much hurried as well as too much delayed. There is a rate of progress at which it will be executed in the best manner and at the minimum cost. If more hurried, it will be defective in quality and more costly if delayed
France was, at least, fifty years completing her maritime and interior defences.
Some remarks will now be offered on the subject of the expense of erecting a system of defensive works, and garrisoning them for war, comparing it with the expense of defending the coast without fortifications. To simplify the proposition, the defence of Portsmouth, Boston, Narraganset roads, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans, only, will be taken.
Supposing an enemy had concentrated 20,000 men at Halifax or Bermuda ; the government must, on hearing of this force, at once prepare to resist it at all the points mentioned above. As it will be impossible to foresee on which the first blow will be struck, it will be necessary to have troops encamped at each; and to meet the attack with a force not less numerically than that of the assail